Since when did being able to afford to buy a home where you want become a ‘right’?
I ask this following on from a few comments on our social media posts recently where some posters have made usually benign, but occasionally unpleasant, comments about the price of property and its general affordability. A number of comments seem to imply that affordable housing for purchase (not rent) is, or should be, a right.
Rather than ignore this thorny subject, I thought it would be good to open it up for debate as an issue that faces many people across the UK, not just in West Cornwall.
In modern-day Britain everyone should, and does in fact, have the right to a place they can call home but, mass home-ownership (as opposed to rented accommodation) is a very new phenomenon (see pic 1.) and its current reversal of popularity may not just be the obvious one; as more younger people are choosing to rent giving them, as it does, greater flexibility with job movement and lower financial responsibilities and commitments if the property develops problems.
So should everyone have a ‘right’ to be able to afford to buy a home where they choose or, happen to have been born by accident of birth?
Of course, everyone does have a right to buy property at a price they can afford. What is not always possible is affording what they want to buy, where they want to buy it.
A flippant answer would be to say that if someone were to be offered a low paid job in Mayfair, London, that housing should be supplied at an affordable price to buy in that area with, the immediate massive hike in value its new owner would currently enjoy. Cash-in on the price hike, quit the job and move on to the next property hot-spot. Easy money! A lovely thought but life, sadly, doesn’t usually work out like that for most of us
Interestingly, one of the most recent commentators on our posts who complained about the lack of affordable housing to buy in West Cornwall, chooses to work outside of the Duchy. Thanks to social media and having a lifelong friend in the same industry as the poster, we can see our poster works in what I know to be a relatively well paid job in an area of the UK that, until the big industry that he works in arrived, had very affordable housing for the local population. However, ask a second or third generation local in that city who doesn’t work in that major industry and they will tell you that they cannot afford to buy where they were born due to outsiders coming in and pushing up prices. My irony meter has just exploded.
Those locals in that area have very similar choices and opportunities to that which our poster enjoys. He chose to work away from his town of birth and move to an area where work paid more and offered more remuneration for his skills. In doing so, it could be argued, he prevented local people in that area from taking well paid employment and, pushed up property prices out of their reach.
Should our poster have been forced to stay in the area of his birth and denied the opportunity to travel to a university city (thus pushing up property prices massively in that locale) to further his education and opportunities? Of course not but, many people who post heated rants against local house prices, often forget that their argument works both ways…
Should our poster be denied the right to better himself and earn a reasonable living by travelling around the UK and abroad to work for major employers? Not many people would deny him that; I for one certainly don’t.
Having been educated and employed out of his local area, is it fair that his local area is required to provide him with subsidised housing to buy and, presumably, profit from in the long-term when he decides to return? Over to you on that one.
But even if we take someone like me, who left school at 16 to, initially, work as a fisherman, who didn’t leave the Duchy to go to University and, who has worked long hours and had countless sleepless nights to build up a business that now provides employment for seven local people; should I simply be provided with a home I can afford to buy in my home town? If so, how do we define what is ‘affordable’?
What was affordable for me today following an injury whilst training for deployment to Afghanistan with 3 Commando Brigade is quite different from what was affordable for me when I was acting as the sole consultant to Tesco & RBS a few years ago and, why should I be ‘given’ an affordable home in any case?
Where should this affordable home be? Where I want it to be, with a nice sea view, good-sized gardens and close to all amenities or, will it be where some local committee or bureaucrat decrees my affordable home must be? If so, if I don’t have a say in where it is or what it looks like; it’s not really ‘my’ home. I might as well rent. It’s not much of a ‘right’.
Related: See my blog affordable on affordable housing
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About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience and a leading campaigner against PortalJuggling His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter
Chris was born and lives in his beloved Penzance with his two spaniels, likes to keep fit and is a former member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.