Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications House-buyer time machine

House-buyer time machine

Newspaper article

Charlie Chatwood and Tacita French met on dating app Tinder two years ago and now want to buy a house.

Together they earn £43,500 - just above the average (median) for a couple in their mid-20s. They could get a joint mortgage of about £160,000 - between three and four times their gross income. But even with a hefty deposit, they would struggle to buy anything.

They live in West Sussex where - according to property websites - average homes sell for about £375,000. And while they would love to live in nearby Brighton, they know that’s just not possible in 2019. But could they have bought there in years gone by?

With an economist, historian and personal finance expert guiding them, Charlie and Tacita travelled back in time to five Friday paydays from the past.

How far would our couple’s money have stretched?


IFS researcher Jonathan Cribb worked alongside historian Claire Langhamer, personal finance expert Sharon Collard and the BBC to analyse the shift in wages, house prices and property ownership over time. You can read the full article here and listen to the audio version here.

More on this topic

IFS Working Paper W20/2
Household borrowing and spending rise with house prices, particularly for leveraged households, but household spending is not consumption.
Newspaper article
If there’s one thing that everyone in politics seems to agree on, it’s that we need to solve the housing crisis. But there "really aren’t easy solutions here."
IFS Working Paper W19/18
The vast majority of household wealth in the U.S. is held in illiquid assets, primarily housing, making households vulnerable to unexpected income shocks. To rationalize this preference for illiquidity, we build a life-cycle model where households are tempted to consume their liquid wealth but can ...