Thursday, 17 September 2009

House prices

The leader of Carmarthenshire County Council has described rising house prices in the county as a double-edged sword.

Cllr Meryl Gravell welcomed the evidence that the county was a popular place to live but said the council did not want to see young people leave and was acting to make sure affordable housing was available.

She said that the council has been involved in talks with the Welsh Assembly Government about using council land on which to build a mix of housing suitable for all sections of society.

A range of schemes are being undertaken to provide affordable homes for sale and for rent.

The Rural House Price Survey by Halifax shows that house prices in Carmarthenshire have risen by 182 per cent since 1999. The average price of a rural home in Carmarthenshire is now £140,998, up from £49,998 10 years ago.

Cllr Gravell said: “The house price increases are a double-edged sword. In one way it proves that the investment in the county over the past 10 years has been a success and those owning homes will have seen the value of their properties go up.

“It also shows that the message that Carmarthenshire is a safe and very attractive place to live is getting out there.

“But it creates a problem for our young people who we want to keep within the county. We do not want to see a brain drain caused by homes being too expensive for young Carmarthenshire people to buy.”

Affordable homes have been a priority for Carmarthenshire County Council for many years, as house prices have grown far faster than the incomes of local families.

The local authority works with private developers to offer new homes to local families, both for sale and for rent. It has successfully found local buyers for the affordable homes that have been built by private developers over the past 12 months, and the need remains far higher than the supply.

However, many families are finding it difficult to raise the level of deposit that mortgage companies are demanding, even if they can meet the monthly payments.

So Carmarthenshire is working with private landlords, Welsh Assembly Government and local housing associations to increase the supply of good quality rented homes.

Affordable housing officer Matthew Miller said: “Our Social Lettings Scheme allows local families, including families where the council has a duty to rehouse under the homelessness legislation, to rent good quality private homes, at a rent that is covered by Housing Benefit.

“The council provides the management service on behalf of the landlord. We aim to manage over 100 such homes within two years.”

Carmarthenshire is already working with housing associations to deliver affordable homes for rent, in St Clears, and Llanelli.

Mr Miller added: “The council is currently looking into the possibility of building council homes on its own land, for the first time in many years. Innovative and exciting proposals will be coming before councillors later this year.”


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