Minister Grant Shapps wants 'stable' house prices

Housing Minister Grant Shapps
Image caption Mr Shapps said house prices had gone through a "crazy period" from 1997 to 2007

People should no longer see property as an investment for retirement, Housing Minister Grant Shapps has said.

In an interview with the Observer, the Conservative minister said he wanted government policies to usher in a new age of "house price stability".

He suggests the government could help limit further house price rises by encouraging the building of more homes.

Mr Shapps said it was "horrendous" that house price growth had outstripped earnings since the 1990s.

"This government absolutely supports peoples' aspiration to own a home," he said.

"But we also believe that (property) should be primarily thought of as a place to be your home."

The MP for Welwyn Hatfield told the paper he wanted people to look to investments that are supposed to offer security in old age, rather than rely on housing.

'Basic need'

He described the rise in prices between 1997 and 2007 as a "crazy period", which had left many younger people struggling to buy a home.

"I think it is horrendous that a first-time buyer would need to be 36 on average if they do not have the support of mum and dad," he told the paper.

"The main thing everyone requires for their subsistence is a roof over their head and when that basic human need becomes too expensive for average citizens to afford, something is out of kilter.

"I think the answer is house-price stability."

He spoke of a "rational" market in which house prices fell in real terms, by increasing by less than earnings.

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