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Community / Homeowner keen to sell Lerwick flat at valuation price to give local buyer helping hand

Frankie Valente outside her home this week. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

A HOMEOWNER who has pledged to sell her Lerwick flat at valuation price to a local buyer says the interest shown in the property demonstrates how “desperate” people are for affordable housing.

Frankie Valente said on social media she was planning to sell the two bedroom ground floor flat next spring, but after reading an article in Shetland News about the struggles some first-time buyers are facing to get on the property ladder she made the decision to sell it to a local buyer without going on the open market.

One part of the multi-faceted issue is the amount some properties are going over their asking price in what is described as a buoyant market.

Speaking on Wednesday, Valente said she has had plenty of interest in the Twageos Road flat just a day after posting about it on Facebook.

She said most people getting in touch have been young couples.

“I think it just shows how desperate people are to buy somewhere affordable,” Valente said.

Shetland News highlighted on Tuesday how some first-time buyers are struggling to make headway in the property market – with the pandemic bringing things into sharp focus.

Public sociology lecturer Karl Johnson reiterated the lack of affordable and available housing as a factor in people moving away from communities like the islands.

Valente said she understands people have every right to seek the best price for their property, but added her personal circumstance meant this was not a top priority. In house sales people do not have to accept the highest offer.

She does not want to sell it to someone who will turn it into an AirBnB – which would be “great for tourists, but it’s not good for local people who can’t afford to live here”.

“It really makes me annoyed that young ones are priced out of the market,” Valente said.

“I just thought if I can do one thing to help somebody, I should do it – that’s all.”

It is a wider issue though, with Valente’s two sons finding themselves in the same position – one is in Auckland, while the other is soon to move to London.

“When young people are paying huge amounts of rent before they can save up to their own place, the whole economy suffers, because they’re not out and about spending the money in restaurants, pubs,” she said.

Valente also warned against Shetland turning into a “retirement colony” in which young people have left both for education and employment but also due to housing.

She hoped others may think more carefully about who may buy their home, especially if the property is something they have inherited.