Last year saw an energised property market and a record year for Swoffers, with more properties managed, more local market sales and more signed lettings contracts completed than ever before.
It’s little wonder that when it comes to 2017, director Spencer Noyon is feeling optimistic. That said, there is no room for complacency when it comes to Guernsey’s property market.
How will first-time buyers fare in 2017?
The local market in 2016 was certainly helped by cheap lending and more realistic pricing, but affordability remains a huge obstacle for many first time buyers.
Financing is hard to come by and even finding a 10% deposit is a big ask. If you look at Jersey’s help-to-buy scheme, it’s a good example of the kind of initiative Guernsey’s government could employ to help first-time buyers in the island.
Will the Island Development Plan help?
The IDP is a vast and complicated document that will dictate what can be built and where for the next decade, and it has opened up the opportunity for limited development in some of our rural centres but there is still a lot more that could be done to help make property easier to buy. For example, it does contain an element of affordable housing but what Guernsey really needs are bigger ticket schemes in target areas.
We are investing in our children through their years in education and yet, when they are ready to come back from University and give back to the Island, they simply can’t afford their own home. In my opinion, the IDP doesn’t go far enough to allow for cheap housing to be built. The government needs to think outside of the box. Why not allow some limited development on old vinery sites whereby the land owner has a capped windfall through an increase in land value in return for guaranteeing that certain value properties will be built. I’m sure you would get the buy in of a builder to build within that sort of framework too. If we can use this sort of mechanism to control the price of land, then we stand a far greater chance of building more affordable homes.
Low cost, affordable housing is a great area of the market for developers to get involved in but they’re not being given the opportunities to do it. We’ve got to have a States that takes the lead, that’s proactive and looks at the bigger picture.
Will the UK’s new non-dom regulations impact Guernsey’s Open Market?
Guernsey is likely to be a relocation destination of choice for those affected by the new UK legislation and the island is in a great position to welcome new residents, but it’s vital the island embraces the opportunity in the right way.
When people think of Open Market buyers, they think of retirees with millions and millions of pounds but I think it’s really important to try and change this perception. Guernsey is a cool destination now, in terms of what it can offer with lifestyle. Where are the 35-year-olds with tech start-ups? We’re not attracting them because they don’t want to pay Open Market prices for a 1970s bungalow.
What can be done to make Guernsey a relocation destination of choice?
If we want to encourage people to come here – which is what we should be doing – we need the government to be adaptive and to look at things on a case-by-case basis, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
People coming here are not a burden. They pay and are happy to pay. They shop in Town, visit restaurants and bars and when Town is busy, people benefit off the back of it.
Tax packages, for example, could offer huge incentives for more businesses to come here and the government should be asking, “What can we do for you?” and developing long-lasting relationships.
When you read some of the headlines, and look at look at some of the policy and planning decisions made, I get the feeling at times that we don’t want people to come to Guernsey. It’s not about bending over backwards to accommodate people but finding a workable solution, and there does need to be compromises.
We’ve got to have a States that takes the lead, that’s proactive and looks at the bigger picture and we need a Guernsey that projects itself positively, welcomes people of all backgrounds, and offers quality accommodation across the board.
For further information please contact:
Spencer Noyon on 711766, email firstname.lastname@example.org.