Let’s reverse rural depopulation. Here’s how communities can fight back!

Rural Village

It never ceases to amaze me that so many infrastructural and development plans – and investments – are made on the basis of where population levels are at currently, rather than looking at the potential of the area and the underlying, simmering demand for what that area might be able to contribute, if given a small shove along. I’m talking primarily here about the Western half of Ireland, of course. Such an approach to development is, in my view, lazy.

We have had 45+ years of imbalanced investment, imbalanced development and imbalanced leadership in Ireland – to the degree that we have twisted and turned our society into something which cannot now properly provide shelter for its populace. Unviably expensive homes in one place and unviably inexpensive in another – for more building to take place, at least.

In this time of huge housing demand, local builders in rural towns and villages still can’t even attempt to get into residential property development as current market activity very often can’t support overcoming construction finance risk. No money and therefore, no houses. What a silly way to look at things. We relied on our limited view of current market activity in the noughties as the property bubble expanded and then popped – and we are still relying chained to it now.

Why are we using this metric? Of course we can’t prove demand in a rural area – because there is nothing on offer to caused that demand to be focused.

Are rural towns and villages simply unappealing then? Are the cities, with their perpetual traffic jams, really so much better? Is it about employment? Surely now, with so many people being free of requiring close proximity to urban areas for employment, there must be demand! Well, there is, but there’s one heck of a chicken and egg problem. Despite what most people consider to be obvious demand, current risk analyses – even with the remote revolution upon us – still place massive hurdles in the way of rural housing development.

The builder or the identified demand – which comes first?

Which comes first – the brave home builder or the housing demand?

Imagine you’re 38. You grew up on construction sites and way-back-when, you thought you’d have a fine career in construction, right were you lived. Instead, you are travelling long distance daily to sites in urban areas, because even in a time of unprecedented housing demand, you’ve been told by your bank that in order to get construction finance for a residential development in a small town or village, you’d need about 40% of the costs in your bank account. You’ve been told to go and get planning permission and come back then – to maybe get some funds, if you’re lucky.

Would you go much further than that initial conversation? Would you be able to put such a huge sum on the line and look risk in the eye like that? Do you have that kind of money? I certainly don’t. How can we expect our home builders – whom we so badly need as a nation – to have this financial firepower after coming out of a recession which impacted them first and foremost?

We need to change things to empower local builders to get building and to make it possible for rural communities to thrive and grow, not just survive. We have to make demand visible.

Homebuyer’s Hero enables communities to fight back against depopulation by making demand visible.

How? We’ve partnered with design professionals who will ‘front load’ the design work. We’re working with construction finance lenders to provide a very high percentage of the costs required.

Why will these people do this?

Because we will bring the planned houses to the market pre-planning permission on our new web platform, so buyers can ‘lock in’ – all at a tiny fraction of the outlay a home builder currently has to contend with, to establish the same thing – whether or not a project is viable. The home builder gets to know for sure they have a viable project even before they apply for planning permission. The lender gets the surety of financing a project with buyers lined up already.

Go on. Treat yourself to a classic.

When the platform collects the buyers, our partner design professionals will apply for planning permission on behalf of the home builder. Our platform keeps everyone informed along the way.

People get to buy a home they want, where they want it. Communities get a booster shot in the arm. Everyone’s a winner, baby…

What can communities do proactively on this?

  • Are there people who would return to buy a home if there were modern, efficient homes available? Have them read all about how we help homebuyers and register with us here.

  • Are there local home builders who just need to hear about this initiative? Have them read all about how we help home builders and register with us here.

  • Is your local estate agent not looking busy enough? Yes, you guessed it. Have them read all about how they can be a catalyst for rural regeneration and register with us here, as well as open up new lines of business.

  • Does your rural town or village have spare church land doing nothing? Would the community benefit from having some community facility perhaps? We’ve created a variant of our model which could see grant funding match any incoming funds from a site sale to leverage such funds to the maximum. Houses and a new community facility. What’s not to like? (The church will be encouraging parishes to engage on housing proposals, so there’s no need to be shy!) Feel free to use the contact form or contact numbers / email on our contact page to engage on this.

We are already working on our next model variant – bringing viability to rural town centres for retrofit and refurbishment projects. Watch this space.

The first iteration of the ‘Hero Home’ design. Nice, eh?

Help us out.

Come on. Don’t be a drive-by reader! Use the social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of this post to spread the word. Reach out to the people listed above. Help make it happen. Tag us on social media – @HomebuyersHero and #homebuyershero .

Talk about this project. We don’t need to wait for someone else to do something about unnecessary and preventable decline in rural communities. We have the tools now to do something about it ourselves. We currently have 10 home builders at an advanced stage in our funnel and more showing interest. We are assessing sites. They won’t all make it so help us out – and help your community out – by spreading the word.

And while you’re here – sign up for our newsletter. Thanks.

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