‘Here’s my chance’: house prices skyrocket as Cornwall residents cut prices

‘Here’s my chance’: house prices skyrocket as Cornwall residents cut prices

PPerched on a hill above the fishing port of St Mawes, estate agent H Tiddy has been selling homes in this postcard corner of Cornwall for more than a century, but business has never been more frantic than ‘today.

“Since last March it’s been so busy,” said Tom Sparkes, a senior assessor. “I think the pandemic made people rethink their plans. Some decided to take early retirement, others realized that if they worked from home, they might as well do it from here. And there are a lot of people who would like a second home in this neighborhood.

Thomas Sparkes, Senior Appraiser at H Tiddy Estate Agents in St Mawes, Cornwall. Photographie : Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

Figures released by Halifax on Saturday show that St Mawes has seen the biggest increase in average prices of any UK seaside town in the past year, climbing 48% from £ 340,000 to £ 502,000. “We didn’t have time to sort this out,” Sparkes said. “We had too much to do.

Sparkes must have rushed inside to take another call – the phones are ringing constantly. But the showcase tells the story. At the top end, a waterfront stack with a solar-heated pool costs £ 4million, while near the bottom a ‘quintessential old fisherman’s cottage at the end of the terrace’ is up for half a million.

St Mawes, in fact, is not the most expensive in Cornwall, according to the Halifax Seaside Town Review. Padstow – the home of Rick Stein’s gastronomic empire – wins this accolade with the house’s average price of £ 616,000, followed by Wadebridge at £ 537,000.

Seven of Britain’s 10 most expensive seaside towns are in the south-west of England, with Salcombe in Devon (averaging £ 950,000) and Sandbanks in Dorset (£ 836,000) topping the list. The cheapest is Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae, off the coast of North Ayrshire in Scotland, where the average is £ 74,000.

Jon Scorse, owner of the Mr Scorse delicatessen in St Mawes, was not thrilled to be informed of the village’s table performance. “Here are my chances of buying here,” he said. “It is becoming more and more impossible. “

Jon Scorse, who runs the local charcuterie in St Mawes in Cornwall. Photographie : Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

Scorse, 45, has built his business over the past five years and has enough bond for a ‘normal’ type of house. “But there is nothing normal here. “

He rents a place in the village. One of his team members is commuting from Redruth, nearly 30 miles away. Two Saturday assistants travel by ferry from Falmouth. “I guess my solution will be to move inland.”

An employee at another store, who asked not to be named because she didn’t want to anger her affluent customers, said she felt sad the homes were so expensive. “There is no more community here. You knew everyone, now there are so many newcomers. They even buy back the old council houses.

Friends Frazer Cochrane, 43, and Simon Miller, 44, were chatting at Bohella Bar, one of the pubs frequented by ‘real’ locals. Both were born and raised in St Mawes but live inland.

“People take ownership of every home that is on the market,” Cochrane said. He is a builder and therefore benefits from the soaring real estate prices. “The work is mental. I’m not complaining too much.

Cochrane and Miller believe that most people still buy homes as second homes rather than primary residences. “Come in the winter and there’s hardly any light on,” Miller said.

Philip Salter, a 79-year-old parish councilor, bought his council house in the Thatcher years. He moved into his current home 35 years ago for £ 135,000 and it’s worth at least a million now.

Frazer Cochrane, a local builder, left, and Simon Miller, social club owner, right, in St Mawes in Cornwall.
Frazer Cochrane, a local builder, left, and Simon Miller, social club owner, right, in the Bohella Bar, St Mawes, Cornwall. Photographie : Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

He speaks in a derogatory manner about “home farmers”. Salter is not tempted to sell. “They will have to take me out in a box,” he said.

Julian German, an independent who led the Cornwall council until the Tories took control this month, attended elementary schools in nearby St Mawes and Gerrans. Gerrans Primary School was built to accommodate 110 children, but the two schools now typically only have around 35 or 40 students.

“People think about the problems places like London have in housing key workers. We have the same challenges, ”he said. “People who are really important but don’t earn big salaries cannot afford to live in St Mawes. “

Former St Ives MP Andrew George, a Liberal Democrat who now runs a charitable trust that works to meet housing needs, was scathing at second home owners who show up in their ‘shiny fleets’. “As they arrive, the unbalanced and unfair housing system drags local families into a precarious existence in the overcrowded areas of inland towns,” he said.

As in Wales, the arrival of newcomers can be seen as a threat to culture and language. Will Coleman, artistic director of Redruth-based Golden Tree Productions, which promotes Cornish culture, said newcomers who wanted to contribute were welcome.

“But it is certain that the commodification of homes as business opportunities is a poisonous scourge with desperate cultural, sociological and environmental impact. “

Coleman concluded with a touch of Cornish: “It’s no surprise that everyone wants to come here. Kernow is splat a cure in all norvys! ”(Cornwall is the best part of the planet!)


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