Is Norfolk’s housing market in crisis?

Norfolk's housing market could be in crisis after a new study shows home owner occupation rates have fallen and house prices and private rent has soared in the region.

New figures out today show home ownership in the East of England will drop to under 65pc by 2021, and house prices will rise more than anywhere in the country in the next five years.

The study from the National Housing Federation highlights growing fears that an entire generation may be locked out of the housing market but Eastern Daily Press property editor Caroline Culot, believes that Norfolk is not at crisis point yet.

'The reports are saying house prices and rents are going up but I myself would be fairly cautious in looking at these reports,' she said.

'I would be very reluctant to use the word crisis. It is very challenging at the moment but the housing market is not in crisis.

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'Summer is not a good time for house sales and I would expect the market to improve and pick-up in September. In Norfolk it is the top end of the market that seems to be suffering the most, so estate agents are telling me. There is still a lot of choice, but people are just not prepared to bring their house prices down enough.'

The study revealed that the number of owner occupiers in the East of England will fall from its current rate of 71.9pc in 2010 to 64.2pc by 2021, according to Oxford Economics, who were commissioned to produce the forecasts. The average house price meanwhile will rise by 25.6pc over the next five years from �221,800 in 2011 to �278,500 in 2016. The average rent in the private sector is also forecast to increase by 21.4pc over the next five years from an average of �458 a month in 2011 to �556 a month in 2016. This would mean tenants would be paying around �1,200 more a year in total.

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The Federation, which represents England's housing associations, predicts that the downward trend will continue and warns that the housing market will experience an unprecedented crisis as it forecast steep rises in the private rental sector, huge social housing waiting lists, and a house price boom.

Samantha West, 26, from Old Catton, Norwich, currently rents. She said: 'The government has made it really impossible for people to get on the housing market. It will be impossible to ever give our son a home because we simply cannot afford to buy. Rent is so high but it's our only option. We will never have the luxury of owning our own home.

'Also with bills becoming higher and rent increasing how is a family meant to save up the thousands of pounds needed for a deposit? I'd advise also renting privately too as agents charge extortionate fees. We've just paid �300 for a credit check.

'I do think the housing market in Norfolk is in crisis because there is not enough help out there for first time buyers and there are no incentives like there used to be.'

The Federation said that more government investment in affordable housing would stimulate a wider, faster economic recovery and help fix the housing market. It also called for suitable surplus public land to be made available for the building of affordable homes, for local authorities to regularly assess housing needs and for ministers to make a renewed commitment to building the homes the country needs.

Federation assistant director Kate Dodsworth said: 'Like the rest of the country, the East of England is paying a high price for our totally dysfunctional housing market. It's clear that home ownership is increasingly becoming the preserve of the wealthy. And for the millions locked out of the property market the options are becoming increasingly limited as demand sends rents rising sharply and social homes waiting lists remain at record levels.

'At the heart of this crisis is a chronic shortage of new homes. Ministers need to make unused public land available to housing associations, local authorities must assess the level of housing need in their area, and housing has to be finally treated as a top political priority.'

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