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Canterbury families 'priced out' by rise in second homes

By Anna MacSwan

A quarter of houses bought in Canterbury last year were second homes.

HMRC data shows that 24% of properties sold in the district during the 2017/18 financial year - 700 in total - were purchased as buy-to-lets or for holiday and weekend breaks.

The figure is 15% higher than in 2015/2016, suggesting that an extra 3% stamp duty charge has done little to deter landlords and investors from snapping up dwellings.

Homes for sale. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire (4667892)
Homes for sale. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire (4667892)

The additional tax was introduced in April 2016 as part of a government effort to help first-time buyers.

More properties in Canterbury are sold to buyers who already have a primary residence than in Kent as a whole, where only one in five properties (a total of 6,480) purchased last year were classified as additional properties.

A report released by the Resolution Foundation last year found that nine in 10 second home owners are in the richer half of the population.

The National Housing Federation has raised fears that the increasing figures could push up prices and has called for more investment in social housing.

Policy leader Will Jeffwitz said: "In any community, if more homes are bought up as second homes then there are fewer available for residents - and the houses left are more unaffordable.

"If families and young people are priced out of their local communities it can have a hugely demanding impact on community life - with village shops, schools and pubs closing in alarming numbers as a result.

"Our solution is that there should be a renewed focus on building more affordable housing, which reduces the impact of a high ownership of second homes."

Lawrence Bowles, research analyst at estate agent Savills, said that first-time buyers are still at a "fundamental disadvantage".

He said: "First time buyers will typically be buying with a mortgage, and buy-to-let landlords will often have the money in their account, ready to go."

The Treasury said that the Government's priority is to "support first-time buyers".

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