In the run-up to the 2015 General Election, the state of Britain's residential property market has become something of a bone of contention among the major parties.
While all acknowledge the UK's woeful under-supply of housing stock, each has different solutions for solving it. But just what is the state of Britain's residential property market and what do the experts forecast for the coming years?
In this guide, we'll take a look at some key statistics and studies, as well as predictions on how Britain's house-building sector is expected to perform in the coming years.
An Englishman's home is his castle and the aspirational goal of owning a property is something political parties across the board have aimed to cater for.
However, in spite of the growth in the private rental sector, research from Savills indicates that most UK households currently reside in their own property – whether they're still paying off a mortgage or own the home outright.
Its analysis from March this year found that, despite signs of an early recovery from the market dip during 2009, the number of transactions has remained sluggish. These exceeded 97,000 as of the start of this year, but still remain markedly below peak historic levels.
And in terms of available housing stock, the latest government estimates state there were around 23.4 million dwellings in England as of March last year, which marks an increase of 137,000 properties on the previous year.
Despite the dire warnings of the Barker Review of Housing Supply in 2004, successive governments have failed to generate anywhere near the ~250,000 homes a year needed to keep the market steady and ensure a healthy supply of affordable homes.
In the aftermath of World War II, Britain was building close to 300,000 residential properties a year, but in 2012-13, didn't even manage half that number.
However, it's not all doom and gloom – and the fermenting housing crisis seems to have spurred action in the sector. According to statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 2013-14 saw a 31 per cent rise in the number of new houses being built.
Similarly, the DCLG found that the last quarter of 2014 saw a nine percent year-on-year increase in the number of house building starts, as well as an eight per cent gain on completions in the same period in 2013.
What's the hold-up?
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has laid the blame at the feet of the UK's planning system, complaining that in spite of recent improvements, it remains "slow, bureaucratic and expensive".
"The major long-term constraint on house-building over the last two decades has been the lack of land with viable and deliverable planning permission," said the organisation in a recent press release.
The HBF conceded that the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework has helped, but warned that burdensome pre-commencement planning conditions had resulted in numerous delays for its members.
However, the government's reforms – and particularly its focus on local decision-making – have also come under fire for encouraging resistance to residential development in the form of so-called 'NIMBYism' (not in my back yard).