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Midlifers own 80pc of housing wealth in the South West

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Lawrence Bowles, of Savills, said: “Particularly over the last decade, falling interest rates have let older households continue to upsize, while tighter mortgage regulation pushed the first rung of the housing ladder out of reach for many younger households unable to benefit from family help.”

The generation gap was biggest in the South West. Here, over 50s owned 80pc of property wealth in 2021. Half of all housing equity in the region was owned by people aged over 65.

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport in Cornwall, said: “Local people are trying to save to buy a home but they are being trumped and outbid by cash buyers, especially from the South East. People are being utterly priced out from the places where they live and work.”

The post-lockdown race for space and the shift to homeworking brought huge demand for property in the South West. Mortgage-free cash buyers who could move fast gained serious power in negotiations.

This means that older buyers who have been able to build up wealth in their properties over time have been able to outbid younger homemovers.

The problem is most acute in the family home market. “Companies are now advertising specifically that they want to hire single people, not people with families, because if they need to relocate workers here it is not possible to find them family homes to live in, or if they can find properties they can’t afford them,” said Mr Pollard.

Out of town cash buyers purchasing holiday homes are a particular problem. “People are struggling to find somewhere to buy but at night there are no lights on in these houses. They are giant piggy banks depriving people of housing,” said Mr Pollard.

Mr Pollard is campaigning for a “First Homes, not Second Homes” manifesto for the South West. This includes calls on the Government to grant local authorities power to quadruple council tax on homes that are empty for most of the year and a licensing scheme for holiday lets.

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