The rapid rise in house prices in the 1990s and early 2000s resulted in a £2.3 trillion windfall for homeowners – but how much you profited from the boom depends on when you were born.
New research by the think tank Resolution Foundation found that 82% of the growth in property wealth since the 1990s has been driven by rising house prices, rather than active savings decisions (such as buying, selling and paying off mortgages).
But the data also found that the wealth has not been shared evenly, with the decade you were born having a huge influence on how much money you made. Which generations profited the most from price growth – and which are falling behind?
Don’t call me baby: younger boomers worse off
The biggest share of the spoils went to baby boomers born before 1955, the Resolution Foundation found.
As well as being too young to fully enjoy the rise of Rock ‘n’ Roll and England’s victory in the 1966 World Cup, baby boomers born after 1955 made less out of their properties than their older brothers and sisters.
Older baby boomers born between 1946 and 1955 enjoyed 7% more wealth by the time they reached the age of 55 than those born five years later.
Average property wealth in middle age
The chart below shows the average property wealth enjoyed by people born in different decades when they reached the age of 48.
Fabulous fifties the best time to be born
The 1990s and early 2000s saw house prices increase at remarkable levels, explaining the prosperity enjoyed by baby boomers in the property market.
Between 1995 and 2005, mean net property wealth increased by 205% – and one in six homeowners earned more from their properties than their jobs.
As the chart below shows, older homeowners who bought their properties well in advance of the boom enjoyed the best returns.
Housing bubble bursts for millennials
It’s well documented how difficult it is to get on to the housing ladder – and it’s not just a problem for the youngest aspiring homebuyers.
The oldest millennials (born in the first half of the 1980s) have only half the wealth that people born five years earlier enjoyed at the same age.
As the graph below shows, baby boomers were 50% more likely to own a home at the age of 30 than millennials.
Young people priced out of home ownership are increasingly looking to the private rented sector – which profits baby boomers with housing portfolios, who received £4bn in rent on their buy-to-let properties between 2012 and 2014.
What help is there for first-time buyers?
With today’s first-time buyers arguably face tougher market conditions than previous generations, there are still options for gaining a foothold on the property ladder.
The various strands of the government’s Help to Buy scheme have given thousands of buyers a boost – be it through Help to Buy equity loans, shared ownership, or for those just starting to save for a deposit, the Help to Buy Isa.
If your parents are willing and able, you could also see if you can get some help from your family members to secure a mortgage. Parents can give their children a leg up in various ways, from gifted deposits to more formal arrangements such as guarantor or joint mortgages.