Major banking exec claimed it’s not that hard to buy a house

Sir Howard Davies, chairman of NatWest Group.
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

  • Sir Howard Davies was criticized for saying it’s not that hard for people in the UK to buy a house.
  • The Natwest chair has since apologized saying he didn’t mean to “underplay”  the challenges people face.
  • House prices have increased in the UK, and saving for a deposit takes almost a decade now. 

A major British banking executive has apologized after saying in a radio interview that it isn’t “difficult” to buy a house in the current environment.

Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of British bank NatWest Group, spoke with the BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Friday and made tone deaf comments about the current housing market. 

Presenter Amol Rajan asked the executive when it will be easier for people to get on the property ladder in the UK. 

“I don’t think it’s that difficult at the moment,” Davies responded. “You have to save and that’s the way it always used to be.” 

Rajan remarked in response: “To buy a house in this country? Are we living in the same country or are you reporting from overseas?” 

Davies added: “I totally recognize that there are people who are finding it very difficult to start the process. They will have to save more but that is, I think, inherent in the change in the financial system as a result of the mistakes that were made in the last global financial crisis and we have to accept we’re still living with that.” 

Davies subsequently received significant criticism for his comments with the CEO of Generation Rent Ben Twomey saying: “What planet does he live on? We are in a cost-of-renting crisis that is making it incredibly hard for people to buy a home as we hand a third of our wages every month over to our landlord.” 

Twomey also said: “Interest rates have increased but house prices have yet to correct, meaning we still need to save for a huge deposit, but also would need a high income to afford monthly mortgage repayments.”

Katy Eatenton, a mortgage and protection specialist at Lifetime Wealth Management said Davies is “totally out of touch with reality.” 

Eatenton explained: “The cost of living is the highest it has been, rents are increasing year on year and house prices, interest rates and the lack of first-time buyer schemes are all adding to the difficulty in getting on the property ladder.” 

Later Friday, Davies responded to the criticisms in a statement, apologizing and saying his comments came across differently to what he meant.

“Given recent rate movements by lenders there are some early green shoots in mortgage pricing and while funding remains strong, my comment was meant to reflect that in this context access to mortgages is less difficult than it has been.”

He added: “I fully realise it did not come across in that way for listeners and as I said on the programme, I do recognise how difficult it is for people buying a home and I did not intend to underplay the serious challenges they face. People have to save much more than they did in the past and that is tough for first time buyers.”

Saving for a mortgage deposit is becoming increasingly difficult in the UK with research from Generation Rent in 2023 showing that it takes almost a decade now to save for a deposit on a property. This is up from the average of 6.8 years in 2012. 

In London, it now takes an average of 18.3 years to save for a deposit, according to the research. 

One freelancer, Adam England, who lives in the UK and makes £3,000 a month, told Business Insider previously that he can’t afford to save for a house because much of his income goes towards living costs. 

England pointed to the cost-of-living crisis and the increased price of houses, making it extremely difficult for young people to set aside some of their wages in savings. 

This article was originally published by a . Read the Original article here. .