The total value of all the houses in the UK has passed the £6tn mark for the first time, according to research by Halifax which also highlights the vast concentration of property wealth in London and the south-east.
The value of homes in London is now more than all the houses in Scotland, Wales and the north of England combined. The research also reveals how property values in the south have escalated since the financial crash of 2007-08, despite incomes remaining relatively flat.
In 2007 Halifax estimated that the UK’s housing stock was worth a total of £4,077bn, but over the past 10 years the figure has risen to £6,015bn.
To put the £6tn figure into context, it is nearly four times the size of the UK’s national debt, which is currently just over £1.8tn, and three times our total national output in 2016 (around £2tn). But even if every house in Britain was sold, the money raised would pay off less than half of the US’s national debt.
The big rises in the value of the UK’s housing stock have mostly taken place in the south. In 2007, the value of housing in the north-east was estimated at £114bn, but today it stands at £136bn – an increase of £22bn.
But in London, houses have jumped in value from £718bn in 2007 to £1,338bn today, a gain of £620bn. Over the same period the value of properties in Northern Ireland actually fell.
In total, 68% of private property wealth, amounting to £3.8tn, is concentrated in the south, up from 62% in 2007.
The stock of privately owned homes in Britain also increased in number from 21.5m to 23.4m.
Among the biggest gainers of property wealth in the south have been landlords and second home owners. Halifax said that while the average rate of owner-occupation in the UK was 63%, it stands at just 48% in London.
The vast majority of housing wealth is owned by the over-55s. Halifax estimated that under 35-year-olds own just 3.3% of the UK’s net property wealth, while the over-55s hold 63.3%.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “The value of housing stock has grown by close to £2tn in the past decade, and with the equity rich regions of London and the south-east largely responsible, it highlights a considerable regional imbalance in the distribution of housing wealth.
“Within the capital there is also a mix of fortunes. While more than a fifth of total property wealth is in London, lower levels of owner-occupation reflect a major barrier to the property ladder with a far greater number of people renting where house prices are at their highest.”
The property market has bestowed much higher levels of housing equity – the difference between the value of a home and the outstanding mortgage – on people living in the south. Halifax estimated that the average homeowner in London has net equity worth £360,193, compared to £134,273 in the north-west of England.
How housing stock values have changed – 2007-2017
North-east £114bn to £136bn
North-west £355bn to £469bn
Yorkshire and the Humber £262bn to £341bn
East Midlands £244bn to £327bn
West Midlands £294bn to £361bn
East £421bn to £688bn
London £718bn to £1,270bn
South-east £732bn to £1,089bn
South-west £401bn to £554bn
Scotland £257bn to £349bn
Wales £161bn to £183bn
Northern Ireland £121bn to £92bn
UK as a whole £4,077bn to £6015bn
Source: The Guardian