Martin Eaglestone has asked for an honest debate about housing, here is my contribution to that debate.
The first thing that must be recognised is that there is not a single housing market. There are two housing markets. There is the market in homes (people who buy a house in which to live), and the housing investment market(people who buy a house in order to make proffit).
The dividing line between these two markets is often blurred, most people who buy a home hope that there is an investment potential in their purchase, but their primary purpose in buying a house is as a place in which to live.
At the other extreme are the people who buy surplus houses to rent as permanent or holiday lets purely to make a profit.
In the middle ground are those who by design, or more often by accident, have purchased a house that they can sell on retirement, or earlier, and buy a property more suitable for their home needs cheaper elsewhere, releasing equity for a retirement income or a business investment.
The problem with any intervention in the housing market from government is that it will p***s everybody off. From those who just live in hope, through the accidentals, and without a shadow of doubt the positive investors.
The problem with every party's attitudes towards housing is that they are all trying to tackle the problem from the wrong end.
Build a thousand new council houses in Wales and you take a thousand first time buyers out of the housing market, hitting the lowest rung owners who are trying to sell (and forcing their houses into the holiday homes / rental market).
Any help to buy policy, such as Plaid Cymru's £5K grant, or Labour's buy and rent schemes just inflate the first rung market (and every step above it), and wipe out the value of the grant / rent portion of the scheme.
Both socialists and conservatives will hate me for saying this, but the only way of resolving the home ownership / housing crisis is by offering tax brakes and grants to the upper end of the market for selling their houses at less than market value thus allowing a deflationary effect to trickle down to benefit the lower end.
Investment in the housing market has created untold harm to the home buying market; there is no other way of making homes affordable to working and middle class people, than by compensating those who have invested in houses in order to release those houses as nothing but homes