4 things to think about before investing in coastal property in Devon and Cornwall

So, you do like to live beside the seaside? Whether you’ve always wanted to buy a holiday home or are looking to retire to the coast, living by the sea is an aspiration for many. Perhaps it’s the chance to experience a simpler, slower-paced life, buoyed on by the prospect of some fresh sea air reinvigorating the senses? A recent study found that more than a quarter of under-35s and more than a third of 35-39-year-olds are actively planning to move to a waterside location in the next 5 years.

Here in the UK, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning coastlines, vibrant seaside towns and quaint villages in Devon and Cornwall. But whether you’re looking for seaside rental property or your forever home on the coast, investing in property here needs special consideration. Here are 4 things you need to consider.

  1. Location, location

When you a buy a property anywhere, location is a key criterion and seaside homes are no different. Sandbanks, the small peninsula near Poole Harbour in Dorset, tops the list as Britain’s most expensive coastal location with an average property price of £1.07 million (according to Rightmove.co.uk), and a large proportion of the UK’s prime seaside property market can be found in the South West including top locations Salcombe in South Devon (average price £712,000) and Padstow in Cornwall (£508,000).

This is where looking past the obvious destinations can yield fantastic results. Consider up-and-coming areas that are perhaps a little off the beaten track or where property may need updating, and you may discover some real gems, particularly if you’re willing to put in a bit of extra effort or make some compromises.

Click here for advice on investing in Cornwall or Devon property.

  1. Local amenities

The above notwithstanding, local amenities are always important, especially if you are not that familiar with the area you have your beady eye on. Is the property in a convenient location? Can it be reached and found easily? Cornwall and Devon boast a wonderful array of dramatic clifftop and cosy cove locations that can be hard to get to without the help of a reliable four-wheel drive.

Remote residences and small villages can feel isolated, especially in winter, but then again perhaps that’s part of their attraction? It is vital that you do your homework to make sure the local area is a fit for your lifestyle as a full-time or part-time resident, and suitable for any holidaymakers that you are hoping to rent to.

If you let out the property to ‘staycationers’, nearby shops, restaurants and entertainment venues and, of course, good beaches may be a real boon, as will a local hospital and veterinary care, just in case. The West Country is extremely popular with tourists during the summer months, so there are rich pickings to be had if you play your cards right.

  1. Distance from the sea

Should you buy a beachside village or a resort apartment with a sea view? How far from the sea is too far? These and other questions will determine the property that is right for you. Beachfront properties will always command a premium price – around £25,000 more on average, according to Savills – on account of their ‘perfect’ location and easy saleability.

But go for a house that’s set back a few streets from the seafront and you may find that you get better value for money. There’s also a greater chance to find a home with a garden and a garage – important for growing families.

And even if you relocate your property search a few miles further inland, as long as the smell of the sea is in the air, seagulls are crying overhead and there’s a glimpse of the deep blue sea in the distance, you may be able to find the property of your dreams in Cornwall or Devon.

  1. Protection from the elements

Compared to sheltered inland property, buildings on the coast have different, and significantly greater, maintenance requirements, simply because of their relentless exposure to the elements. Tasks such as cleaning and maintaining paintwork will have to be undertaken on a much more regular basis on properties close to the sea, and this is something you will have to be prepared for.

When house hunting, look out for signs of rusted metals, rotten wood and damage from salt air corrosion. When your offer has been accepted, have a full survey carried out by a local surveyor who will know to look for signs of damage caused by the sea in addition to age-related wear and tear.

Flooding is an additional concern – here’s a very recent incident in the coastal village of Coverack. Should you discover that the home has previously been flooded, you may need to reconsider your purchase, especially in view of the knowledge that sea levels globally are rising faster than predicted.

Flood waters can cause substantial damage to the foundations, electrics and woodwork that can be eyewateringly expensive to repair, making coastal properties very expensive to insure. If you’re worried about the flood risk of any property you are thinking of buying, use this government website to give you greater information about the level of risk involved.

Written by Julie Hanson

Julie is passionate about property – development, investment and portfolio planning. Along with husband Alec, Julie is actively building a property portfolio while helping others to do the same.


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