The city could become hollowed-out
On the Dutch TV programme EenVandaag Alderman Roelof van der Schaaf (PvdA) said: “Groningen is in danger of becoming unaffordable for people with an average income, such as teachers or police officers. It is time for measures to be taken against speculators and real estate investors in Groningen.”
According to van der Schaaf, one can now see large numbers of investors hoovering up houses to let them for higher profits in Groningen and other large cities. As a result, many houses are no longer accessible for people with an average income.
Agents, nurses and police officers are the victims, according to the alderman. According to him, these income groups “can no longer live in the city where they work. These are the people who support society. Let’s make sure that not much money leaks away to investors who already earn enough. “
Van der Schaaf is advocating stronger measures to tackle the housing market crisis. One of the things that should be arranged right away, as far as he is concerned, is an obligation to live in any house you buy. He wants an arrangement where a buyer of a home is legally obliged to live in the home that they purchase for 5 years.
In the television program, investors united through the ‘Vastgoedbelang association’ announced that they found the proposals of the alderman to be “only combating the symptoms”. According to the association, the problem of the shortage on the housing market is mainly caused by the fact that too few homes are being built. “The real point is that a lot more houses need to be built. That makes much more sense than draconian proposals of this kind. “
Whilst it is true that house building in Groningen has flat-lined in recent years, with the number of sales properties on the market now reaching its lowest ever point, more and more unscrupulous investors are putting their money into housing. Its benefits are seen as longevity and a store of value, especially when compared to traditional investment vehicles that suffer from record-low interest. However, in a young and growing city like Groningen having property in the hands of already-wealthy investors only exacerbates existing inequality, and will eventually hollow out the city centre and turn away people from the city.