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Safe as Houses?

There can be few everyday financial issues more vital than the price of houses. Whether we own one and worry about its value or aspire to own one and are frustrated by their stubbornly high prices, nobody can avoid the issue. In the UK, while prices have fluctuated during our lifetimes, overall they have risen steadily and sometimes spectacularly. The accepted wisdom is that houses are a safe and excellent investment for the long term. But are they really as good an investment as we believe? Might the future be different from the past? Are houses really so safe? This book looks at house prices over the long term (centuries in some cases) in several countries, including the UK, the USA, France, Holland, Norway, Germany and Australia, to find out what has happened to house prices and why. The author illustrates his findings with authoritative data on trends and provides intriguing details such as an analysis of the real value of the White House and the fascinating four-hundred-year story of a single house in Amsterdam. He concludes that a steady rise in house prices is not the norm and that prices can move through a much wider range than we are used to. At times prices have risen for decades only to subsequently fall for a generation or more. If house prices are more variable than we have experienced in our lives, what does the future hold? If prices rise further, will houses become unaffordable for many young people? Is that good for our society? If they crash, will that endanger our banks once more? Are politicians, policymakers and regulators prepared for the true range of possibilities? Anybody who owns a house, wants to own a house or who follows the economics of housing will find this book an accessible, fascinating and door-opening read.
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About the Author

Neil Monnery studied at Exeter College, Oxford before attending Harvard Business School as a Harkness Fellow. He worked for many years at The Boston Consulting Group where he was a Director and Senior Vice President. He was head of their UK retail and consumer practice, and of their European corporate development practice. He is now active in business, investing and research.

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