On the crest of a wave
THE news that coastal homes are selling faster than ever – within 51 days compared to an average 71 before the pandemic – reflects the continued exodus from cities to more spacious homes.The average asking price for a seaside home has gone up by more than 20 per cent since 2019 in many regions but nowhere has the housing price surge been so frenzied than in Devon and Cornwall.
The biggest increase in searches from prospective buyers has been in Devon – Dartmouth tops the list with a 117 per cent rise while Salcombe is up by 112 per cent according to research by Rightmove.
But while Cornwall is not far behind, with 111 per cent more searches in Fowey than in 2019, the arrival of superfast broadband several years ago had already made the county a magnet for people who could work from home.
Lockdown and the stamp duty holiday have turned that steady trickle into a scramble over the past year, and Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister says: “What’s really interesting about this research is that it suggests the initial surge of people enquiring about locations outside of cities before the pandemic has transitioned into a more medium-term shift in behaviour.”
Newquay estate agent Bradley Start, a partner at Start & Co, agrees that property prices in Cornwall’s most famous coastal town are up 20 to 25 per cent compared to just 12 months ago. He adds: “The peak summer months are traditionally our quieter sales months with so many locals busily engaged in the tourism industry, but the town is bursting at the seams this summer with what seems like a new wave of ‘Cornwall converts’, who can perhaps afford a second home close to the sea here.”
Rising prices mean it’s essential to look outside Cornwall’s honeypot seaside towns, such as Padstow and St Ives, which is why Porth, on the outskirts of Newquay, is gaining attention.
It has its own sandy beach in a dip along the coast road but it also has easy access to Newquay’s amenities and Cornwall Airport, with daily flights to London.
Start & Co is marketing The White House, 100 yards from the beach at Porth.The 1930s art deco detached house is for sale at £1.3million (01637 875847; starts.co.uk) and has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and three reception rooms – plus sea views.
Another Cornish town that has been overlooked in the past is Penzance. Former radio presenter Emma Schofield spotted its potential several years ago when she bought a large apartment above the Exchange Gallery, which is part of the Newlyn Art Gallery and was originally a 1930s telephone exchange.With four-bedrooms, three-bathrooms and three-reception rooms, the penthouse has views over the harbour and out to St Michael’s Mount in the bay and is currently up for sale at £600,000 leasehold (020 7190 9737; nestseekers.com).
“Having such a talented bunch of creatives within the building provides the perfect vibe for living and working, especially if you support the creative industries. It also has a lift/disabled access which I can assure you makes shopping trips much easier,” says Emma, who has converted her studio into a cinema room. The apartment also has a parking space.
Penzance has benefited from a multimillion-pound renovation recently, including the refurbishment of the promenade and seafront outdoor lido, and the town is the starting point of September’s Tour of Britain Cycle Race.
And there is good news for people still hoping to move west. Bradley Start says price rises are slowing and adds: “With the end of the stamp duty holiday taper in our sights, and with travel restrictions easing, I would expect the market to calm towards the end of the year.”