Dozens Queue Overnight to Secure Affordable Homes in Wales
The extent and severity of the UK’s housing shortage was made painfully apparent this week when it took just 3 hours for an estate agent in Wales to sell 13 new homes. Dozens of people spent the night on the pavement outside the agency in Aberdare, hoping to secure one of the affordable properties set to go on sale the next morning.
A report from the BBC confirmed that around 30 people slept outside Bidmead Cook in near-freezing temperatures, some arriving more than 18 hours before the homes were put up for sale there. Despite the somewhat tragic nature of the situation and its reflection of the dire situation facing the housing market, those waiting in line spoke of a party atmosphere.
Some had brought prosecco, intent on toasting their subsequent home ownership in advance.
A representative from the estate agent said that they had never seen anything like it. The first prospective buyer in line, 32-year-old Angharad Hamilton-Shaw from Cwmaman, arrived in the middle of the afternoon the day before.
“Originally we planned to go queue at midnight but with more interest, the time got earlier and earlier,” she told the BBC.
“And it’s a good job we did as the next person came around four o’clock,”
“People were still coming in the early hours and then walking away once they asked those of us queuing which properties we were interested in, it was really heart-breaking.”
While the dismay at having to resort to such measures to secure affordable housing was evident among those queuing, Ms Hamilton-Shaw and her fellow buyers worked together to keep the mood positive.
“It has been really emotional, just feelings of excitement and anxiety,” she said.
“It was really cold throughout the night, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits and that helped pass the time.
“And technically those of us that have got the properties are now all neighbours and we have made friends for once we move in.”
A Price Worth Paying
The affordable housing up for sale was located at a site called Cwm Heulwen, where three-bedroom properties were up for grabs at a price of £184,950 and four-bed homes were available from £320,000.
Average property prices in Wales are currently hovering at around £210,000, with both of the above prices being significantly lower than typical homes of a similar size and specification.
34-year-old Hanna Owen who was one of those who queued overnight to secure one of the 13 new homes available, told the BBC that while the situation was quite shocking, spending a night outdoors was a price worth paying to become a homeowner.
“My mother-in-law walked past and told me there was already someone waiting there and she got in behind so we ended up being second in the queue,” she told the BBC.
“My sister-in-law and niece took over from 17:00 BST and then me and my mother-in-law were there from 22:00,”
“It was freezing cold and my mother-in-law went back to the house numerous times to get bottles of water and flasks of tea,” she said.
“When my sister-in-law first suggested queuing so early I thought she was joking, but I am so glad I did – you have got to be in it to win it,”
“It felt like such a long night but when I think about it, it’s gone so quickly, and it’s only now kicking in that we are homeowners.”