Unintended consequences in St Ives
St Ives voted to ban the sale of new-build houses as second homes in 2016, hoping to make housing more affordable for the Cornish town’s full-time residents. “That hope seems to have been misplaced,” says Gurpreet Narwan. According to the estate agency Hamptons, “an even larger share of transactions in St Ives are now of second homes” – up from 16% in 2016 to 29% in the first ten months of 2018. “Meanwhile, housebuilding has slumped.” Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Research suggests that bans on second homes in other Cornish resorts, such as Mevagissey and St Minver, have also made it harder for locals to get on the housing ladder, while simultaneously damaging “local construction and tourism industries”. When wealthy outsiders are banned from new builds, they tend to “flood the market for older places”, pushing prices even higher. Developers, meanwhile, “scale back the supply” of new builds “because they are no longer as lucrative”. In Switzerland, where many municipalities have introduced such bans, the cost of homes for primary residents has fallen. Sadly, the same does not appear to apply in Cornwall.