‘Next government must halt housing catastrophe’

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THE housing ‘catastrophe’ must be addressed by the next government, the former head of the Jersey Homes Trust has said – as new figures revealed that owning a home is getting further out of reach for most Islanders.

Michael Van Neste spoke following publication of the latest House Price Index, which showed that the average cost of a home in the Island was £660,000 for the first quarter of 2022 – around £90,000 higher than it was for the same period in 2021.

Meanwhile, the average price of a three-bedroom property – typically considered the average family home – reached £898,000. The mean price of a one-bedroom flat remained essentially unchanged from the previous quarter at £339,000, while the average two-bedroom flat would now cost more than half-a-million pounds.

Two-bedroom and four-bedroom houses had lower average prices than in the previous quarter, currently standing at £606,000 and £1,166,000 respectively.

The average cost of three-bedroom houses sold in the latest quarter – £898,000 – was £37,000 more than it was at the end of 2021 and the highest mean price recorded for the property type to date.

Calculated using the methodology used in Guernsey, the average price of Jersey homes sold in the last quarter was £152,000 higher than those sold in Guernsey.

Mr Van Neste, who established the Jersey Homes Trust in 1995 – and chaired the board of trustees until his retirement in January – described the situation as a ‘catastrophe’.

‘We have had a chronic problem for many years that has now become a crisis,’ he said, adding that the government had failed to prioritise housing as an issue.

‘What is happening is very bad for society as a whole – it takes away hope from young families that they will ever own a home and those who do will be paying a disproportionate amount of their income, which means they will have less to spend and contribute to the economy,’ he said.

He called on the next Council of Ministers to include the provision of homes within their main areas of focus, including making redundant or government-owned sites available for development.

‘The danger is that the new [States] Assembly will be set up and departments formed, but housing as a priority will not be seen in that way,’ he said.

‘Everyone in the Island who is working should be able to afford their own home – either to rent or to buy – and that is not the case at the moment.

‘A lot of people are having to pay far too much to house themselves.’

Overall housing market activity, on a rolling four-quarter basis, was 4% higher than in the previous quarter and 39% higher than in the corresponding period of 2021.

JERSEY’S AVERAGE HOUSE PRICES BROKEN DOWN BY PROPERTY TYPE

– One-bedroom flat: £339,000

– Two bedroom flat: £519,000

– Two-bedroom house: £606,000

– Three-bedroom house: £898,000

– Four-bedroom house: £1,166,000

AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE FOR JERSEY COMPARED TO THE UK (Q1 2022)

– Jersey £660,000

– UK £277,000

– England £296,000

– Wales £206,000

– Scotland £182,000

– Northern Ireland £165,000

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