We must bridge the gap this Scottish Housing Day for a brighter future

David Knight

By David Knight, managing director, Avant Homes Scotland

For years, the Scottish housing market hasn’t worked in favour of younger buyers. They’ve either been priced out altogether or given limited choice in terms of locations, styles and designs.

All this has meant that the chances of young people owning a home in the UK decreased by more than half in the past two decades, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. A sombre fact when you consider that 2018 is Scotland’s Year of Young People.

So as Scottish Housing Day falls this Wednesday (September 19th), it should be a timely reminder of how the housebuilding industry needs to act now to bridge the gap in housing – and a celebration of what’s been achieved already.

Simply, we need to build more attainable homes with lower price points to increase accessibility for first-time buyers in Scotland. Sir Oliver Letwin made a similar case in his review this June, concluding that to increase absorption rate, developments should consist of homes that stand out from each other, particularly in terms of size, design and price – in short, increase the choice and supply of homes available that are suitable for young people to help increase home ownership.

Bridging the gap

While the government has responded to the issue with Help to Buy, Avant Homes’ own response has been to introduce an extension to our product range, with a new collection of innovative starter homes in order to provide choice and to make the prospect of purchasing a home less daunting for young buyers in Scotland.

We’ve named these homes Bridge, because of the range’s target to bridge the gap in the housing supply of high-quality homes that help people make their first steps on the property ladder and don’t price them out of the market.

Our first two developments to feature the two, three and four-bedroom Bridge housetypes launched last year, at our Chacefield Loan and Greenhall Fields developments in Denny and Blantyre. Every home is priced under £200,000, thus allowing for them to be compatible with the Scottish Government’s Help to Buy scheme which allows for a new home to be purchased by buyers with a 5% deposit. One year on, and these homes have been very well-received by the market, with 71% of purchasers across both pilot developments aged between their early 20s to mid-30s.

We’re supporting Scottish Housing Day, because we believe in the focus on putting young people’s housing options at the heart of Scotland’s economic, environmental and social policy, and highlighting the opportunities that will present to everyone, both buyers and business.

We see the Bridge range as a huge part of the future of our business and hope that by delivering more Bridge homes we can increase both the choice and the supply of housing available to young people.

This is particularly pertinent when you consider these comments from The Commission on Housing and Wellbeing: “The home provides us with a sense of belonging and connection to where we live and acts as a springboard to develop other aspects of our life.” Going forward, our Bridge range will make up 30% of Avant Homes’ overall build output and will form a key factor in our five-year strategic plan to double the size of our business, delivering 4,000 units per annum and a £1 billion turnover by 2023. With plans to extend the Bridge range across our whole UK portfolio, we’re excited about the future, and making home ownership more achievable for young people, which will ultimately help provide a brighter future for Scotland.