02 Mar 22 by Kate Robertson
It is no secret demand for residential accommodation in the West Country has been and is currently well exceeding supply. According to Nationwide, house prices in the South West region have increased by around 20% since the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic, and the beginning of 2022. Demand has been driven by the experiences of lockdown, combined with the ‘Stamp Duty holiday’ and the trend and flexibility to work from home.
In Devon, there is a large and growing issue regarding housing availability. Looking specifically in North Devon, as at end of January, you could find only 35 properties to let (0 to 4 beds), if excluding shares and student only, this shrank to only 26 properties.
This is due (in part) to the rise in holiday homes and staycations. Woolacombe is a clear example, a town where holiday homes/lets have been the focus and new developments target investors, with 2-bedroom flats reaching £1m. The prices, driven by demand have excluded locals and seasonal staff from being able to live within the area.
The problem has become so severe that residents desperate to find homes have taken to social media to ask for help locating places to rent. While others have taken to the streets to protest and ‘encourage’ local councils to stop allowing holiday home use and development.
There are rumours the Government may implement a maximum number of days a non-holiday home is let, increasing rental availability. However, the development brings economic boosts and tourism drives local economies so a balance must be struck.