Demand for Herts family homes outstripping supply

Cedar Gardens, Hitchin

Cedar Gardens, Hitchin - Credit: Archant

Changes in buyers’ lifestyles and a reduction in the number of larger homes being built is squeezing the middle of the Hertfordshire housing market, according to new research.

A study by CALA Homes found that families wanting to move to a larger home are finding it increasingly difficult to do so, with stiff competition coming from both first-time buyers and older purchasers.

The survey of 1,000 people who bought a house in Hertfordshire in the last three years revealed that 56 per cent of first-time buyers had bypassed the traditional starter home to buy a larger property, with 50 per cent buying a house with three bedrooms or more.

Retirees are also opting to ‘rightsize’ rather than downsize, with 53 per cent saying they had bought a home which was of a similar size – or bigger than – their previous property. 58 per cent opted for a home with three or more bedrooms, while 25 per cent said they weren’t yet ready to downsize.

The issue of increased demand for larger homes is being exacerbated by a steady decline in the number of four-plus bedroom homes being built in England.

Separate research from CALA shows that, since 1991, only 28 per cent of new homes have had four or more bedrooms, with Government planning policy focussing on higher density development and the supply of smaller homes.

58 per cent of family buyers in Hertfordshire say they had to compromise when buying their current home, one in 10 settled for a smaller property and 47 per cent went over budget to secure the house they wanted. Just two per cent felt there was a good choice of available properties in their area.

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In news that will come as no surprise to family buyers in the ultra-competitive St Albans and Harpenden markets, 36 per cent of those polled say they missed out on a home they wanted, with 50 per cent of those being outbid by another buyer.

CALA’s research shows that, over the last 20 years, house price inflation on large detached homes has significantly out-paced other housing types, reflecting the scale of the supply-demand imbalance at the higher end of the market.

Peter Blades, managing director for CALA Homes Chiltern, said: “There has been a steady decline in the number of four-plus bedroom homes being built in England over the last ten years as the Government focusses on smaller properties.

“But the priority given to starter homes is failing to meet the real demands of households across the country and families are finding themselves unable to upsize due to a lack of suitable properties on the market.

“We believe that the government needs to take a whole chain approach to housing in the UK and that the provision of more, larger family homes holds the key to unlocking the current crisis.”

CALA Homes is doing its best to plug the gap, with two new developments in Hertfordshire, Balls Park in Hertford and Cedar Gardens in Hitchin.

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