A helping hand

164113230Despite the family being down one key member – since the demise of Doughnut – the house is still comfortably full now that Ella is home for the holidays and, if I’m honest, I do prefer it that way. I’m in no hurry to see either of the girls fly the coop just yet, especially as they’re in and out so much we might as well get a revolving door fitted. Last night Ella crept in about one from a “roller disco” (I know!) and slipped the chain on the door not realising Cleo was still out. She and a friend crept in three hours later, cold kebab in hand, having stayed out to “watch the sun come up”.

I was already up, which was just as well, as she tried – unsuccessfully – to undo the chain with her unkebab-ed hand. It was like being burgled by Thing from The Addams Family. I tried and failed to guilt trip her into thinking that I’d been up all night “worried sick”.

“Right mum,” she said, patting me on the head as she headed for bed.

At the moment having all four of the kids home is lovely – but how will we all feel in five, ten, 15 years’ time if we are all still sharing the same roof – not through choice, but because they can’t afford to either rent or buy a place of their own?

If recent news is anything to go by we’ll soon find out. Fewer 20 somethings than ever are able to afford a place of their own.

According to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies released this week, the number of people able to afford their own home by the age of 25 has halved over the last 20 years. Only 21% of people born in the 1980s had bought their own house by the age of 25, compared with 34% of those born in the 70s and 45% of those born in the 60s. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28305804)

So what’s the answer? Cleo seems to be finding her own solution by taking herself off to back-to-back festivals between now and September, pausing only to join us for a family holiday in Spain, but I think even she will find the attraction of a life under canvas paling somewhat come October.

One mortgage company has come up with a wizard whizz of an idea to get the whole family to chip in to help grown-up children on to the housing ladder. The so-called “Family Mortgage” allows parents and grandparents to contribute towards a child or grandchild’s deposit with either cash or a percentage of the equity in their own home, to enable them to raise a 25% deposit and they would then be guaranteed a 5% mortgage. The idea is that after the initial push the younger members of the family gradually “buy out” their parents and grandparents over ten years.

It might work, but it does remind me of a family I met, years ago, when I was living in Japan for a bit. They had the most beautiful, ancient traditional Japanese house, sliding paper doors, tatami mats, all built round a fabulous central courtyard. It was straight out of a Samurai movie, and so was the mortgage, which the current family – a secondary school teacher and his wife and two children – had inherited from his grandfather. Three generations in and they were still paying off the mortgage!

I’ve got a better idea – Sainsbury’s has just slashed the interest rate on loans of up to £15,000 to 4.1%. I reckon if you could persuade parents and both sets of grandparents to take out one £10,000 loan each that would add up to a deposit of £30,000, which they could pay off at around £300 a month each for three years, leaving their child or grandchild free to apply for cheaper mortgage – say 3.18% fixed for five years from the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society.

Of course how you decide family members are to be reimbursed – or whether you decide to write off the debt as a gift – is up to you.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn


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