Whether you’re looking for a new home or a seafront investment, here are Winkworth’s top tips for buying a property on the coast.
Before the pandemic, buying a property on the coast was seen by many as a luxury reserved for retirees or those whose work and social commitments didn’t keep them tied to the city grind.
But as coronavirus hit, working from home became essential and buyers (particularly families, or those planning to start one) realised the need for home offices and outdoor space. And where better to enjoy the beauty of nature than by the sea?
One coastal area that has seen a particular surge is Bournemouth, which not only benefits from wonderful beaches and the nearby New Forest but plenty of good schools. London is just two hours away by car, ideal for the flexible office working we will likely return to.
“In the Southbourne and Bournemouth area, we have had a massive influx of people who want bigger properties and to be closer to open spaces,” says James Hadley-Clift of Winkworth Southbourne. “When you compare what you can get for £500,000, £700,000 or £1,000,000 in London versus here, people feel they are getting more for their money, which is a huge attraction.”
Steve Magee of Winkworth Worthing, reports a similar trend in the west Sussex town. “With good rail links when you need them, the beach and South Downs on your doorstep, plus reasonable property prices, Worthing is a great location for those working from home or retiring.”
If you’re buying a property on the coast, here’s what you need to consider.
Research the location
When you think of a seaside town, you may think of a sunny beach, fish and chips and a holiday-like atmosphere. The truth is, not all coastal areas are the same and even within towns, there are stark differences between neighbourhoods.
“Think about what you are looking to achieve for this move and which area will give you the right lifestyle,” advises James. “For example, Bournemouth is actually a series of villages. You have Charminster, which has a large student population and is walking distance from the city centre. Then you have Southbourne, which is more family orientated with a beach lifestyle. You also have Talbot Woods which has very high value houses with half acre gardens.”
Steve agrees that buyers should look at different areas. “Lots of city buyers begin by focusing on the Worthing town centre but have gone on to explore areas like Goring, East Preston and Ferring, and found that they really like what they see.”
Coastal areas have far more to offer than sand and sea, says James. “People think the sun is constantly shining in towns like Bournemouth and that it’s full of happy people roller skating by the seafront. It’s much more diverse than that,” James adds. “Bournemouth has the largest industrial estate in Europe, lots of financial capital buildings like the Barclays head office, and a thriving university community.”
Set aside a maintenance budget
Another thing that buyers who haven’t lived by the coast before need to consider is maintenance. Your property will be more exposed to the elements, and keeping it intact is an expense that you need to plan for.
“The wind and sea batter houses and buyers need to allocate a budget for maintenance work. Things such as the render and windows need looking after because you’re dealing with an aggressive force of nature,” says James.
It is important to buy a property that has been consistently well maintained by the previous owners so that you can avoid problems and major works in the future.
Don’t be surprised by noise
Areas of natural beauty are often associated with quiet. Those relocating to the coast may expect to swap the traffic-filled city for serenity and peace, but the coast has its own noise pollution to consider.
“The sea is noisy. People don’t realise that,” James says. “I did a viewing recently in a beautiful area, two minutes walk from the beach. In the garden, the viewers complained about the road noise but it was actually the sound of the waves. The forest is noisy too, because the trees rustle and it can sound like tyre noise. People need to adjust their expectations because you can’t be right by the ocean and have zero noise around you.”
Prepare for tourists
A coastal property is an all-year-round purchase, and seaside towns can change dramatically throughout the seasons. “There’s as much fun wrapping up and going for an invigorating walk on the beach on Christmas Day as there is on a beautiful Bank Holiday Monday. It’s not going to be a summer holiday every day,” says James.
Many British seaside towns have an influx of tourists every summer, which is brilliant for local business but also has its challenges. What may be a quiet street in December can become crowded during the peak season.
“It’s important to think about the effects of holidaymakers,” says James. “For example, have you got parking in your local area? You may think, ‘Brilliant, I have private parking and my friends can park on the street when they visit,’ but in August, you’ll find three cars parked across your driveway.” The more you think about and plan for these seasonal changes, the better.
Buying to let?
While holiday homes and buy to let properties are a smaller part of the market for James in Bournemouth, coastal sea front properties are always in high demand. “People with second homes or those visiting on holiday want to be within walking distance from the beach and have a balcony with a sea view. There aren’t any bungalows in Bournemouth, but there are beautiful seafront houses that have been converted into flats and those units are very popular.”
In Worthing, seafront houses rarely come up in the centre of town however there are lots of apartments in period buildings and modern developments. “The average yield for us with buy to let is approximately 4% with apartments being the choice for investors,” says Steve.
It is essential that you research the area’s restrictions around renting out a property. For example, in Bournemouth, Airbnb is prohibited by many freeholders. “Buying a holiday home that you can only use for a few months of the year isn’t worth it for most people. You can do a six-month lease but you can’t use Airbnb,” says James.
Living by the coast has a plethora of benefits, from nature’s positive impact on mental health to the value for money compared to cities such as London. But it’s important to do your due diligence and find the best location and property for your needs.