I spent an idyllic couple of days in Constantine Bay, Cornwall last weekend. I was lucky enough to be staying in the second home of my sister-in-law’s parents. Theirs is an original 1950s bungalow, it’s built like a tardis, surprisingly spacious but still low-rise and sympathetic to its surroundings. Some might say it’s a development opportunity waiting to happen.
Nicknamed Surrey by the sea, house prices here are not dissimilar to those in the home counties and many bungalows are being bought, demolished and rebuilt as luxurious two storey villas of glass and slate. For those of us that don’t own a first home, let alone a second, pointing out the houses we could only dream of building is a habit that even my two-year-old nephew is starting to parrot!
Research cited in the Guardian this week found that one in 10 UK adults, or 5.2 million people, own a second home, while four in 10 adults own no property at all, highlighting the growing wealth divide that Britain now faces.
I am from Generation X and we are, surprisingly, responsible for a quarter of second home ownership according to the ONS but we also benefit from the fact that half of them are owned by our baby boomer parents. However, with rising care costs we can no longer assume that these properties will one day, automatically become ours and the Millennials born since 1981 are probably the last generation that can realistically envisage owning second homes at currently just 3%.
At the same time, while home ownership is falling, those that can only just afford to buy are being squeezed into ever smaller homes. A phenomenon which has led to an increase in a different kind of second home; The motorhome. The National Caravan Council recently announced that motorhome registrations rose by 11.3% in the first half of 2017 and that mobile homes are providing a solution to the shortage of spare rooms for those visiting friends and relatives. A rise in the trend for ‘staycations’ could also explain the rise in sales although this is predominantly linked to the falling value of the pound against the Euro.
Meanwhile in Folkestone, artist Richard Woods has created a thought provoking installation of six colourful, cartoonesque, houses at various locations in and around the town. Although they don’t have actual windows or doors and are purely designed as a ‘motif of a building’, they have raised questions from concerned locals about whether these ‘holiday homes’ will be available to residents or just second home owners from London. A Londoner himself, Woods is acutely aware that his own children are unlikely to be able to afford to live in London and may have to move to second home territory to even consider buying for the first time.
This article was written by Jess Pickett, Marketing Assistant at MPC.