‘Everyone wants the coast’: Are second homeowners pricing out locals?

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Cornwall is a popular destination with both holidaymakers, property buyers and second home owners. The destination offers Britons a slower pace of life between the sunny coast and the rural countryside. The county is breathtakingly beautiful and has attracted a plethora of permanent residents over the years.

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However, during lockdown, Cornwall may have found itself becoming home to even more residents.

In fact, figures from OnTheMarket have revealed exclusively to Express.co.uk that sales enquiries for property for sale in Cornwall increased by 67 percent between 2019 and 2021.

From 2019 through to 2022 the highest proportion of enquiries for homes for sale in Cornwall have come from people already in Cornwall.

In 2021 and 2022 this was followed by people from Devon then people from London.

But in 2020, there were more sales enquiries from people in London than from Devon.

And increased demand has subsequently led to rocketing prices with sales prices increasing by 30 percent in the area since 2019.

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Post-pandemic, the average sales property price in Cornwall has continued to rise. So far in 2022, it’s 10 percent higher than it was in 2021.

Are property buyers from outside Cornwall “pricing out” locals?

“I think it’s definitely happening in the coastal community because they’re so popular as second homes and buy-to-let,” said Hilary Rhodes.

Hilary, a property advisor at Webbers, said she is still seeing buyers from out of county looking to move to Cornwall.

“We have some second homes going on here but nowhere near that level because everyone wants to go to the coast. Or be 10 minutes to the coast or walking distance to the coast,” she said.

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Hilary’s office is based in Launceston, a small town situated between Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.

While there are a “small amount” of second homes in the region, she believes it’s the coastal towns that have more second homeowners.

St Minver Lowlands, for example, located near surfer hotspot Polzeath, has 454 properties recorded as second homes, out of a total of 1,142 homes within the parish, according to figures shared by Cornwall Council.

The data, which was provided via a freedom of information request in December 2021, shows that some areas in Cornwall have up to 40 percent of properties being used as second homes.

In St John, a village just three miles of Saltash, 38 percent of properties are used as second homes.

Five of the top areas with the most second homes are in North Cornwall and all of the parishes are located by the coast.

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However, the booming property market, rising house prices in the region and changes in the rental sector has seen some landlords choosing to put their by buy-to-lets on the market because they can achieve such a good price for them.

Hilary added: “In the longer term, we’re not sure what knock-on effect that will have with rentals.

“As we know, the rental market is going up and rents are going up.”

Recently, there has also been changes in Government policy towards landlords which is having an impact on whether landlords are wanting to continue renting out their properties.

For locals, the average wage is another stumbling block to owning a house.

“Local wages are lower. I think it’s one of the sacrifices you make when deciding to live here and move here,” Hilary explained.

“You just have to accept that unless you’re going to commute to London from Exeter or Plymouth or you’re prepared to spend a week away and be out of county, you’re going to have lower salaries.

“Unless you work for the Government perhaps or a larger national company – they would be the only exceptions.”

However, buyers moving to Cornwall from out of county are also vital to the local economy.

“They’re bringing income into the local economy,” Hilary said.

“We know all the local builders, surveyors and tradespersons and we can recommend suitable companies they can deal with to our applicants – it’s bringing money into the county without a doubt.”

Finding The Cornish Dream, is a three-part observational TV series that follows the stories of Cornish estate agents as they take prospective buyers through a selection of dream houses in Cornwall.

The series addresses some of the local narratives around local homeowners struggling to buy and the aspirational buyers coming to the coast.

Finding The Cornish Dream airs on Channel 4 at 5.30pm on September 3.

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