How property fared under Queen Elizabeth II

windsor castle during celebrationsLefteris Pitarakis/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Jubilee is a great time for a spot of nostalgia - looking back to the golden days, and just how far the country has gone to hell in a handcart in the last 60 years.

Property seems to have been through a tricky 60 years. So have we ever known things so bad before?

Price rises

According to a report by Halifax, house prices have gone through a dramatic rise, increasing an incredible 186% even when you account for inflation - which works out as a 1.8% rise every year (slightly ahead of wage increases). If you don't take inflation out, the rise is 7,278% from £2,200 in 1951 to £162,338 in 2011.

Your view of this will depend entirely on whether you can afford the property your family needs, or whether these rises have pushed you out of the market or down the ladder.
Houses are definitely less affordable than they were. In the whole period since 1951, house prices have been on average 3.9 times earnings. However, in the last ten years they have averaged 4.8 and in 2007 they hit a shocking 5.8.

The north-south house price divide has widened since 1971. The average house price in the south has risen by 164% in real terms; greater than the real increase in the north (130%).

Since 1971, London has seen the biggest increase in house prices with a real rise of 189%, at an average annual rate of 2.7%. The South West recorded the second biggest increase (163%), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (159%).


However, things have got strikingly less stable in this time. House prices were relatively calm in the 20 years to 1971 with annual growth averaging just below 1%. There have since been four periods of rapid house price growth: 1971-73, 1977-80, 1985-89 and 1998-2007. Each period was succeeded by a substantial drop in real house prices. The most recent housing boom - which lasted ten years - was by far the longest period of rapidly rising house prices.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "House prices have become prone to pronounced swings over the past 40 years and the rapid decline in the number of homes being built since the 1950s has contributed to the demand-supply imbalance that has characterised the UK housing market in recent years. This is likely to continue to play an important role in determining the landscape of the UK housing market over the coming years."


Yet still there are some definite positives - the houses themselves have improved. In 1947, more than four in ten (42%) households lacked a fixed bath or shower. By 1991, this proportion had fallen to just three in a thousand. Nearly two in three households (64%) were without a basic hot water supply in 1947. In 1991, this proportion had fallen to 1%. Meanwhile, households in England with a second toilet have increased from 31% in 1996 to 41% in 2007.

That said, the homes we live in are getting smaller. There has been a marked reduction in the size of properties constructed during the last 60 years. Homes of less than 50m2 accounted for 9% all homes built before 1980. This proportion doubles for homes built after 1980 (18%).

Changing families

Interestingly, life within the four walls has changed dramatically too. Home ownership has more than doubled over the past 60 years from 32% of all households in England in 1953 to 66% in 2010-11. The introduction of the Right to Buy scheme in the 1980s was a key driver of the rise.

There has been a pronounced decline in the 'traditional' family unit over the last 60 years. The proportion of households in England occupied by married couples has nearly halved since the 1970s from 70% in 1971 to 40% in 2011. Over the same period, the proportion of single person households in England has risen from 19% in 1971 to 33% in 2011. Single person households are projected to replace married households as the single most common form of household over the next decade.

Average house price-earnings ratio

1951-1961 3.5
1961-1971 3.6
1971-1981 3.9
1981-1991 4.0
1991-2001 3.4
2001-2011 4.8
1951-2011 3.9

Sources: Halifax, Communities and Local Government, ONS

Total percentage price rise (after discounting inflation)

Greater London 189%
South West 163%
Yorkshire and the Humber 159%
East Anglia 157%
East Midlands 151%
South East 146%
Wales 143%
North West 138%
West Midlands 135%
North 128%
Northern Ireland 105%
Scotland 91%
United Kingdom 144%

Percentage of households in England by composition

1971 Married couple 70%, Cohabiting couple 1%, One person 19%
1981 Married couple 63%, Cohabiting couple 3%, One person 23%
1991 Married couple 55%, Cohabiting couple 6%, One person 27%
2001 Married couple 47%, Cohabiting couple 9%, One person 30%
2011 Married couple 40%, Cohabiting couple 12%, One person33%
Source: Communities and Local Government
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