Who gets the housing?

A perusal of comments on the ‘Its Our Cornwall’ facebook page reveal that some commentators have a rather simplistic view of how the housing market operates. Not that this is limited to comments on facebook- many journalists, commentators and politicians also share a simplistic view of the housing situation.

Firstly, there is the myth that we are not providing enough housing despite evidence to the contrary.

Lets leave that aside and look at the assumption that building houses is the answer.

The problem is that people do not appear to have a realistic view of what happens when houses are built. It’s a simple ‘If you build houses, then those who need houses will be provided with accommodation.’

However, the housing market does not operate like that. Lets say there are 5 households in a village – Trepenpol, who need a house. A developer comes along and gets permission for five houses in Trepenpol. Aha there we are problem solved!

But it’s not. Lets assume these are all open market housing – that means anyone can buy one. And that’s what happens. Someone from elsewhere in Cornwall could buy a property; a household from London could purchase a property as they decide to move to Cornwall for lifestyle reasons. Someone else may want to buy so they can have a second home and another household may buy and then let the property out as a holiday let. There is no reason why any of the houses end up housing our five local households! Very often they dont!

Thats because a market model means that who gets the housing depends on who has the money. Local residents are often outbid by other purchasers.

So that is why making statements like ‘We need to build more houses’ is irrelevant.

Developers operate on the basis of what will sell. Houses are marketed to attract households who can afford the price whether they are moving to Cornwall for lifestyle reasons, want a second home or to purchase a property as an investment.

If we are serious about providing housing to meet actual local need we need a new model.

If we want to


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