As I sit down to write this post, BBC Radio 4 is murmuring in the background. The topic of discussion, house prices of course. It’s hard to turn on the radio or open a paper these days without hearing about the ever-impending doom of the housing crisis.

Rising house prices, rising interest rates, demand outstripping supply. It doesn’t sound like a great time to be steadily moving through your late twenties and pondering the future. Right now there is very little to tempt me to jump onto the housing ladder and climb into a system where a house isn’t a home, it’s an investment asset, a commodity.

The fundamental right, the right of shelter, is becoming evermore unaffordable for evermore people in the UK. Escalating property prices means than it’s not just home ownership that’s moving out of the grasp of low and middle income households, the prices of renting are also rising at a rate beyond average wage increases. So where does this leave us? Cold and wet?

The reality is that renters are having to spend a higher and higher proportion of their wages to keep a roof above their head. There are also more heads under that roof as house sharing is no longer a fun phase of student life, it’s a necessity for the whole of your twenties and probably into your thirties.

For those brave, lucky or foolish enough to be clinging to the rungs of the property ladder, the stakes can be even higher. Those looking to buy are facing bidding wars and gazumping as house prices increased by 10% in the year to April 2014. The figures, even when excluding London, show that whilst the average house price has risen by 6%, average earnings have increased by a mere 0.9%. Those who bought during the last housing boom have high mortgage repayments coupled with a plateau or decrease in income or, have been battling negative equity with low interest rates.

The answer? Suggestions on a postcard please.

Popular consensus at a recent debate held at the London School of Economics and aired on, you guessed it, Radio 4 was to build more houses. It was suggested that three quarters of the new homes that need to be built will be delivered by the private sector and that these new homes should be built within the green belt or within new ‘garden cities’. Other ideas floating around were to shift our cultural obsession with home ownership and to make renting more attractive and encourage more shared ownership schemes.

For me, there’s more to the story than the fact that we simply haven’t built enough homes for the last twenty years and that we are a nation obsessed with home ownership. The problem with all of these proposed solutions is that none of them are addressing the two key underlying issues. Our homes have been turned into investment assets and we do not have policies in place to support visionary, long-term solutions to truly solve this housing crisis.

A home is no longer just somewhere to live, it’s a financial asset expected to increase in value, indefinitely. We haven’t been building enough homes so prices have increased as demand for them increases. Our culture of renovation has placed value on decoration and mod-cons allowing many to make a quick buck by giving a lick of paint to a run down house. This intensification of a housing market with limited supply but ever growing demand has allowed capital gain to overshadow the true value of a home. If we are actually going to solve the housing crisis, we need to start valuing a house differently.

There are several contributing factors that means our current policy is not capable of facilitating development that will actually solve the problem. In the 1980’s the Conservative government made a series of policy changes that left local authorities unable to undertake large-scale house-building schemes themselves. To deliver houses, local authorities have to rely on partnering with the private sector. On top of this our planning system requires specific permission on a case-by-case basis to be granted by the local authority for any development. This allows a certain level of ambiguity as to what can actually be built when compared to a rule based system where as long as a development meets specific rules for the area, it can go ahead.

As long as our homes continue to be viewed as investment assets and our policies do not provide for clear, long-term, strategic planning, I doubt that we will see a true solution to the housing crisis.

So are we really to be left cold and wet? I certainly hope not! Things are starting to change, there are people developing and testing projects to find new ways to deliver housing and to start valuing things in new ways, including Voist’s very own Mapify. The policy shift is certainly a hard one to change but I do hold hope that the introduction of the Localism Act is beginning to reveal the political acknowledgment that our current system isn’t working.

Change is of course is the only certain thing and it is us who will have to help guide the process to bring about the change that is truly needed.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. (Buckminster Fuller)