If you wanted to show, in just one graph, that England has a housing crisis then, well, your choices are pretty much infinite. Seriously, I see like five of these things a week. You have options, that’s all I’m saying.
If you wanted to show, in one graph, that England has more than one housing crises – well, then your options are rather more limited. But this, from planning consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP), is as good a shout as any. It shows house prices in real terms (that is, taking account of inflation), relative to their 2008 pre-crisis peak:
Click to expand.
In London, prices are in real terms 42 per cent higher than their pre-crisis peak (so rather more when you include inflation). This is brilliant if you happen to own one of them, but not so great if you’re basically anyone else.
In the South East and East of England regions, that figure is 16 and 15 per cent respectively. Since these regions border London and include its commuter belt – in fact, each of them has several actual tube stations – their boom is at least partly explained by the fact that large chunks of their homes are located in places that are functionally, if not administratively, a part of London.
Elsewhere in the country, though, it's a very different story. In the South West and Midlands, house prices are still a few points lower than in 2008. In the north, they're lower still: prices in the North East have basically been flat-lining for years.
It's probably not quite true to say that there are parts of the country where the problem is negative equity. Over eight years, people will have paid down their mortgages, and inflation means that absolute prices, at least, have increased.
But nonetheless it's clear that England doesn't really have a single housing market. If you've ever wondered one half of the country seems a lot more concerned about the housing crisis than the other, then this is as good an explanation as any.
Here's the chart again, with commentary courtesy of NLP:
Click to expand.
Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.