The fading dream of home ownership

With unapproachable and expensive housing markets around the world, many young people are giving up on ever owning a house. Alice Capelle explores a theoretical system that rethinks the inheritance, owning, and buying of homes.


Young people are feeling anxiety about the housing crisis. Prices are high, affordable housing is limited, and the market is hard to break into. We’ve seen how housing prices in Auckland have many paying large amounts of their income on rent and believing they’ll never be able to buy a home there. And this is far from a New Zealand-exclusive issue.

In this video, Alice Capelle discusses young people’s views on home ownership, a 2019 report on first-time buyers, and one potential way out of this crisis.

After asking her students based in Ireland and her audience, who are an international mix of mostly young people, she found many wanted to own a house one day yet did not believe they’d ever be able to afford one. Again, her respondents mentioned anxiety around the housing market and a feeling that there’s no way out of this daunting reality.

You can see it in her comment section as well. People are lamenting the thought of a gigantic mortgage hanging over them for their entire lives. People from Ireland to Mexico to Australia to Canada remarked that house prices are growing exponentially and they can’t see themselves owning a property where they live.

Some of this anxiety also comes down to the pressure to achieve this ageing narrative of moving out, having a job, buying a home and starting a family.

A recent report suggests the dream of home ownership is fading among young people. Image credit: cottonbro via Pexels

Capelle relays some results from a 2019 report by Santander on first-time buyers and home ownership. This study surveyed people under 40 years old in the UK.

According to the study, only 51% of young people have the goal of owning a home one day. The main reason given was the sense of security a house gives you. However, raising enough for a deposit remains the biggest barrier.

With the housing climate as it is, 70% of respondents said they believe the dream of home ownership is already over for young people. 73% said the government should be doing more to help first-time buyers.

However, as Shamubeel and Selena Eaqub say in Generation Rent, this can’t be fixed with one little law change. It will require long-term shifts in our systems, protections, and how we think about renters, rented properties, and what makes a home.

Capelle closes her video by creating a dialogue that explores and critiques a theoretical system suggested by Emmanuel Dockès.

In this system “whoever uses owns.” A “transitional fund” oversees the buying and selling of homes. Any money they make through this process is fed back into housing development and repair. Through accessible, long-term, interest-free loans, first-time buyers would find it easier to secure a deposit without the fear of an ever-growing debt. Plus, as you age, your property rights diminish which disincentivises inheritance and generational wealth through property.

The system recognises that home ownership brings stability, dignity and autonomy and that these are rights that should not be reserved for the richest of a population.

But for all the details, we recommend checking out her video below.


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