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Escape to the coast - The West Country Waterside market update

As we head towards Summer, Ben Stephens Stags Partner and Head of Waterside, discusses the extraordinary levels of activity in market for waterside homes.

Back in March, I penned an article in which I gazed into my crystal ball and suggested that the Spring and Summer months were going to be busy ones for Waterside property. Some two months later it is evident that we are operating in a market, the likes of which most of us have never seen.

The property website, Rightmove recently reported that Cornwall had overtaken London as the most searched-for location by buyers and you can read any number of market reports which explain that annual property price inflation is running at between 15% and 20%. The reality on the ground is that whilst sales listings are starting to increase, they still lag the number of home buyers and as a result we are likely to see house prices continuing to rise until the supply of homes catches up with demand. Looking at my local market in Cornwall, asking prices are certainly 20% above the same time a year ago and in many instances, they are being elevated further by competitive bidding.

A recent Office of National Statistics survey highlighted that one in four people are planning a major life change once the country has recovered from Covid-19. More than one-third of these people have said they would like to change where they live, particularly if their companies will allow an element of home-working. Delving deeper it is clear that many of these want to live near to their leisure activity and in the West Country this often involves the water or coast.

Looking at Stags data, we have seen the second month in a row where visits to our website exceed 250,000 and incoming buyer leads from both Rightmove and OnTheMarket rising to over 10,000 per month. The South West and Cornwall in particular has done an exceptional job of promoting itself and was almost ever-present across television channels. Unsurprisingly, with foreign travel restricted, this has prompted many to either relocate or buy a second home/investment property close to the water.

I appreciate that this frenetic activity and price inflation is not welcome news for everyone, after all many sellers are also having to buy in the same market and become involved in competitive bidding. There will also be concerns over affordability for local buyers. The positive viewpoint is that our local businesses will see many of these new owners and holiday guests spending freely in the region’s economy over the coming months.