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Britain's Housing Conundrum: A Path from Crisis to Opportunity

Ana Maria

Ana Maria


pitcure of Julian Richer
Industry Insights


*Photograph taken by David Levene from The Guardian*
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are intended for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. This article aims to present an unbiased overview of Britain's housing market challenges and potential policy implications. The publisher maintains a stance of neutrality regarding political matters and seeks to inform readers without advocating for any specific political agenda. 

The British dream of homeownership, once within easy reach, now eludes many. Julian Richer’s eye-opening analysis in "Our Housing Disaster – and what we can do about it" reveals a stark reality: only 7% of local areas in England and Wales offer homes considered “affordable”. This is a steep decline from the 88% seen in 1997, underscoring a grim trajectory where homeownership escapes millions. 

Over decades, we've witnessed soaring house prices, stagnant wages, and a glaring lack of new housing, both private and social. This crisis has eroded homeownership among under-35s since 1989, ballooned private renting, swelled social housing waiting lists beyond 1.2m households, and exacerbated inequality and homelessness. 

As an election looms, the incumbent government’s complacency over the housing crisis is alarming. Despite 14 years of unfulfilled promises and policy misfires, the situation has worsened, pushing housing further down the agenda. Recently, Michael Gove’s capitulation to Conservative backbenchers, weakening essential renter reforms, illustrates the diminishing political focus on housing. 

Labour, under Keir Starmer, pledges to spearhead homeownership through a “planning revolution”, yet faces scrutiny over the promise’s financial viability. Richer, a significant landlord and the entrepreneur behind Richer Sounds, champions a dramatic shift towards social housing, advocating for government intervention beyond market forces to address the crisis. 

Immediate measures to protect renters and a long-term vision for a social housing renaissance form the crux of Richer’s manifesto. He suggests dismantling the right-to-buy scheme and embarking on a vast social housing construction program, reminiscent of post-war rebuilding efforts, to genuinely tackle the housing shortfall. 

Labour's commitment to delivering 1.5 million homes over five years by tightening developer regulations and overhauling planning rules hints at potential relief. However, Richer argues for a focused strategy on truly affordable, social housing to address the crisis fundamentally. 

For Estate and Letting Agents: A Roadmap Forward 

This crisis offers estate and letting agents a unique opportunity to navigate through a tumultuous market, get ahead on these now and you could set yourself up for stability: 

  • Advisory Excellence: Establish yourself as a trusted advisor, helping clients understand the market's intricacies and the impact of impending policy shifts. 

  • Market Insight: Maintain a pulse on developments in affordable and social housing to offer clients a diverse portfolio. 

  • Innovation in Service: Adopt innovative approaches like virtual tours and digital contracts, catering to a market that values efficiency. 

  • Community Engagement: Get involved with community housing projects, showcasing your agency as socially responsible. 


In the midst of Britain’s housing crisis and on the brink of policy reform, estate and letting agents face challenges but also opportunities. By adapting, innovating, and prioritising exemplary service, professionals can guide their clients through these uncertain times, contributing to a future where the dream of homeownership is once again attainable for the many. 


If you would like to make a difference in the world, GNB proudly run a Moving Mountains Campaign, where we encourage people to give just £1 per month to put towards meaningful change. This is maintained by the GNB Charitable Foundation. Learn more about it here. 

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