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Comment: ‘singles are locked out of London home ownership and it’s not just a lonely hearts problem’


I

doubt any single people were surprised by the revelation that flying solo was more expensive than coupledom. But £860 — per month! – is a pretty jaw-dropping penalty for being single.

The figure was totted up by Hargreaves Lansdown who calculated how paying alone for everything from tax and household bills to gym memberships and train fares was leaving singles with less financial resilience than couples, as well as significantly lower saving power.

So it’s hardly a shock to see new Halifax research showing almost two thirds of first-time buyers are now buying jointly, compared with just 43 per cent in 2014.

Sure, this doesn’t automatically mean all 63 per cent of them are romantically linked – plenty of people buy with siblings or friends – but I suspect the bulk of them are.

With the average price of a first home in London hitting £518,900 in 2022 (up nine per cent in a year), and the typical deposit £125,400, I’m astounded there are any people going it alone.

In Camden and Westminster, homes now cost 10 times average earnings, the research found while in Harrow, Barnet, Brent, Islington and Haringey they are more than eight times higher.

Given the limits on mortgage lending, pooling resources is clearly the only option for most Londoners.

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Of course, for many people, buying a home together is a symbol of commitment and a crucial milestone in a relationship. The problem comes when it’s the only option – who wants to feel trapped with the wrong partner just to keep a roof over their head?

We need only go back a generation to find many women legally and financially dependent on men, with damaging consequences. The gender balance may have shifted now, but as long as housing costs continue to spiral, the social costs remain dangerously high too.

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