There’s no place like home

But is two one too many?

For generations, owning a home of our own has been the dream and ambition of just about all of us. But the facts show that fewer and fewer of us are realising the dream and that the situation is set to become worse in years to come. Millennials, the children of the post-war baby-boomers are now the largest adult cohort worldwide, and they appear to be the age range most severely affected, with many fearing that they will never be able to buy their own home.

There are many reasons for the decline in home ownership, particularly in this age group. The unstable housing market, with the resulting availability and affordability of stock, wages failing to keep up with the rocketing cost of living, and student loan debts still not repaid, all influence the situation. Lifestyle and mobility also play a part, with many young people needing to move location to find a job that improves lifestyle.

Insecurities resulting from both Brexit and the Covid pandemic have also impacted significantly. In former times, with this age range group having reached their late twenties to early forties, they would by now be expected to have at least taken a step onto the home ownership ladder. Rented accommodation is frequently the only affordable option, and for those unable to draw on family wealth, the prospect of a home of their own looks little better for the foreseeable future. A first-time buyer study by Santander Mortgages of non-homeowners aged between eighteen and 40 found that while nine out of ten still want to climb on to that ownership ladder, the reality is that by 2026 just one in four under 34s will have achieved that goal. 

Of course, Millennials are not the only group struggling to buy a place of their own, and the issue raises the question again of second home ownership. Before the pandemic, government figures showed that more than 750,000 households in England had second homes, and of these around 500,000 were in the UK. But both covid and Brexit have increased the realisation that there is serious money to be made by putting second homes on Airbnb. And the government has increased the incentive for people to own two or more homes with tax breaks and grants that increase money-making potential.

All this has hugely changed coastal and rural communities, where in some villages few full-time residents remain. Cornwall is a massive tourist attraction, increasingly so for the quick getaway, where there are generally more than 10,000 Cornish homes listed on Airbnb. And while the number of Millennials or others looking to buy a home in Cornwall is no doubt small, in the area around Newquay alone, there are reckoned to be more than 500 homeless people. Airbnb city breaks, where homeless numbers are much higher, are also increasingly popular. So, is it time for a rethink on second home ownership, so that more can buy and more still can have somewhere safer than the streets to live?

Surveys

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