As house prices soar due to demand, the town's locals claim it is getting even more unattainable to purchase their own property as they face competition from out of town cash buyers and investors looking for holiday lets and second homes.
On Monday this week the town held a poll where residents overwhelmingly backed the call for a ban on new builds being sold for holiday homes. While it is not a legally binding result, campaigners say it sends a clear message to authorities that something has to change.
Sarah Blackwell, 41, a marketing and communications manager, says unless prices drop, the best chance she has of buying her own home may mean leaving Whitby.
She said: “The difficulty for me is not paying a mortgage, it is getting the deposit. That is my own fault for not saving but it is difficult when you pay £900 a month rent.
“That takes up half your wage, then there’s food bills, a car and we have to find money for oil and that can be £700 to £800. A deposit of £10,000 seems a lot but not unreasonable, but, when a former council property is £225,000 and they won’t look at you without a ten per cent deposit that’s £25,000.
“I have not been on holiday for five years, we don’t go out that often, we work really hard and it is demoralising. It feels like surviving and I am on a decent above average for the area wage. People on £20,000, I don’t know how they are coping. The vote is all very well but it is almost too late now.”
However, a Whitby estate agent has predicted that house prices in the town are no longer sustainable, as she admits even professionals are “shocked” by prices they are selling for.
A three-bed semi-detached house is on for £600,000, a two-bed apartment for £475,000 and a three-bed terrace at £385,000.
The cheapest property available in Whitby is a cottage that has been unoccupied since 2012 when a landslip led to notices being served under the Building Act requiring prohibition of use on safety grounds. It is set to go to auction with a guide price of £50,000 to £80,000.
Natalie Locker, senior sales manager at Astin’s, says demand has driven prices but believes they will level off into 2023.
She said: “What has driven them is demand and there is not enough inventory for the market. It is not a sustainable market and the prices will have to fall.”
Covid has been a significant factor, she added, with increasing custom from families re-locating.
She said: “It changed their perspective and a lot of people we have shown around properties realise they can work from home and want somewhere like Whitby because it offers a really good work/life balance. When the kids finish school, they can go to the beach – you can’t do that in Leeds.
“I am also seeing buyers who let the property to pay the mortgage until they re-locate. The demographic is changing for the better, we want that for schools and businesses. People want to be here. It is not about prices being cheap or high – it is because people love Whitby.”