Friday, June 3, 2016

It is estimated that there are over 350,000 people in the UK who own a second home.

Although for some this is a commercial decision, for many the step into second home ownership has been inspired by a dream. Sometimes it is the dream of being part of a rural community they love. Sometimes it is the fantasy of being able to escape to a bolthole they can call their own.
The concept of home ownership, as opposed to renting which is more common in Europe, is particularly strong in the British psyche, and the rise in the popularity of second home ownership in the UK reflects that.

France has long been a popular choice but the combination of the credit crunch and the weakness of sterling against the Euro has had a big impact this year, with sales of holiday homes to people from Britain dropping by 50% in 2008. Sales of holiday homes in Spain have also shuddered to a near halt.

With sterling looking to stay weak for some time to come, this recession could prove to be a tipping point in the UK holiday home market.

There is evidence that people are beginning to rethink their priorities and the way they live their lives. The period of high consumption we have seen in recent years in the UK may now be over for some time to come.

People are looking for more balance in their lives. For those that can afford to have one, this means that the weekend cottage is likely to become a more central part of their lives in future. Not just somewhere for weekends and holidays, but somewhere to spend time in the working week too.

Recent advances in technology make it far easier to conduct business anytime anywhere and there is research by BT that indicates that flexible working can increase productivity by 15%. The recent announcement by the UK Government that the right to request flexible working will shortly be extended to all parents of children up to 16 will give a further boost to the number if people who can use technology to work from a remote location such as a holiday cottage in Cornwall, at least for some of the time.

This means that a second property no longer needs to be reserved only for weekends and holidays.  In future, there will be no reason why some of the working week could not be based there just as easily too. Cleaners in Cornwall and those providing key holder services and property management report that this trend is already evident, as owners increasingly bring their laptop and BlackBerry with them.

If you are working online, with high speed broadband you can work just as effectively from a seaside cottage in Cornwall or Devon as from an office in the City.

It is also likely that some who are forced to reconsider their career paths during the recession will decide that a lifestyle change is in order and create a new and balanced life that entirely changes where and how they spend their working time.

The rising profile of the climate change agenda and the high cost of fuel are combining to bring a sea change in attitudes towards air travel. This too will have a positive impact on the growth of second homes in the UK as opposed to overseas.

Of course, if the rise of flexible working means that people are likely to make more use of their second homes in future, this will also help keep rural communities alive and prevent vital shops and services from closing down,  as a consequence of  empty houses and declining numbers of local residents.

Tourist experts predict a bumper year for tourism in the UK in 2009 as the weak pound keeps people at home. The same trend will also show up in the holiday home market as the UK becomes more affordable in comparison to the European hotspots.

It is even possible that we could see a growing number of people from overseas look to the UK for their holiday homes, attracted by the weak pound and the weak property market.

Places like North Cornwall, which already has the highest rate of second home ownership in the UK, are likely to be the first to see this new trend.

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