Star comment: Winners and losers in the housing market

There are winners and losers. And we're not talking football – we're talking about the housing market.

You get the impression that the stamp duty holiday, which is progressively being lifted, has sent things a bit crazy.

The most depressing time to try to get a bargain is just after the bargain has ended. There has been a surge in activity and a surge in prices.

This tends to get reported in positive and upbeat terms as being a sign of a vibrant economy.

It is true that the haves have the satisfaction of sitting on an appreciating asset. But there is an army of have-nots who share that dream of owning a home, they scrimp and save as they try to get in a position to get a foot on the housing ladder, and find they are locked in one of those bad dreams where you are always trying to get closer to something and yet never do.

There are schemes which aim to help young prospective home buyers but still the reality for many is crushed hopes, or a temptation to make a financial stretch which, if and when interest rates rise, will really bite back.

Among the ways to offer a helping hand is an aspiration to build "affordable housing" and of course more housing, to try to meet demand. The trouble is, when market forces let rip, there is no sentiment or consideration to it. It is all about money. Or lack of it.

In getting a mortgage, there are pitfalls to avoid, as explained today by Kevin Roberts, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club.

It is 40 years now since the Margaret Thatcher-inspired drive to encourage home ownership in Britain began in earnest. In the decades since then it has risen to as much as 71 per cent, but has fallen back, which is hardly surprising when younger age groups are facing a brick wall and a shut door, which means they have to continue renting, paying money to somebody else which could otherwise be invested in bricks and mortar.

For those who are in the fortunate position of being able to buy, the general picture is that you should seek advice, shop around, compare deals, and make sure you understand your options.

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