As far back as August 2010, commentators were heralding the end of the "golden age of home-ownership". It is now becoming more noticeable that the allure of owning one's own home is no longer as popular a sentiment as it once was.
In 2010, ownership levels fell to a 20 year low of 68% in the UK. As a direct result, the private rental market has been bolstered in this example of property market schadenfreude. It is expected that 2011 will be a pivotal year for the private rental market, which is predicted to experience increased growth at the expense of the shrinking property market.
For as long as many can remember, buying one's own home was the prospect to aspire to, and has become a more and more common state of affairs as the years have gone by. In fact, the decision to buy rather than rent has become an expectation rather than a dream.
However, this has changed in recent times, with the economic downturn and consequent rise of house prices resulting in a stagnation of market activity. Perhaps the logical conclusion of this shift will be a more pronounced similarity to the markets of Germany and Sweden, where a booming private rental market has been the norm for some time.
In Germany, home ownership levels are at 47%, a staggering figure from a British point of view. The difference between the two countries however is the proportional perceptions and experiences of renting. Britons have a deep-seated repulsion of the idea of renting as something sub-standard and not at al preferential. On the continent however, it is and always has been far more popular. This may be in part down to the systems such European countries have in place to cater for and protect tenants.
In Britain, one constantly hears of tenants being harassed, cajoled and generally buggered about by incompetent or downright crooked landlords. It seems that until we provide an accommodating system which empowers tenants and provides them with a higher level of legal protection, as well as ensuring that landlords maintain a strict standard of decency and fairness in their dealings, us Britons may come round to the prospect of rent en masse.
Whilst the future of the domestic property market appears quite grim, that of commercial property appears rather bright. In fact, it has been reported that the commercial property market ended the year on a high with a 20% increase on 2009 figures. Good news then for commercial property consultants , whose expertise will be in high demand in the coming months, unlike their domestic counterparts it looks. There's no other word for it, the property market is just full of schadenfreude at the moment.