A Home by the Coast – What to consider?
More and more people are leaving their urban homes, in search of a home by the coast, giving in to the rhythmic call of sloshing waves and the sound of gulls and moving to a coastal idyll. According to Rightmove, in 2021 Cornwall overtook London as the most searched for location, with Devon and Dorset snapping at its heels.
If you are thinking about moving to the coast, there are some important factors to take into account when buying a home by the coast. This guide will point out some of the more common issues and give tips on how to avoid them.
Issues specific to a home by the coast
Coastal homes tend to have different maintenance issues to their urban counterparts. This is because of the way in which they are affected by the weather and elements. Homes can be susceptible to damage from salt air corrosion, and damp is also part of the deal. Exposed sea-facing exterior walls on older properties built before 1980 are almost always damp. Brilliant sunshine in July and August, torrential rain in November. Although there are many options available for treating damp, it can be expensive and not always 100% reliable for coastal properties.
Coastal flooding may also be problematic, but that really depends on where you are looking to buy. The closer to the sea the property is, the more likely it will be at risk of flooding. Coastal erosion is a very real risk. You should always bear this in mind; after all, you don’t want your dream beachfront home to be making its way down the cliffs in 20 years’ time.
The Jurassic coastline of Dorset hit the headlines last year after substantial rockfall and landslides. Two sections of the cliffs collapsed, one at Thorncombe, where, after a significant rockfall, new cracks developed, leaving an expectation of further movement and similar rockfalls in the future. The second happened at Seatown, where a 300-metre section of the coast slipped into the sea splitting the beach into two sections.
These two examples of coastal erosion should help future purchasers ensure they gather the necessary information before making a final decision.
If you are thinking about buying a beachfront property where the beach is primarily shingle, you might also consider the potential problem of stone damage being caused to your property. There may well be a sea wall protecting your property or car, but during high tide or strong winds shingle will be thrown at your home or car each time a wave comes whaling in. And if there is sand, then during strong winds, houses get sandblasted.
You might then choose to move a little further inland, so you are not as close to the sea. But you will still face high levels of salt in the air. Salty atmospheres are particularly rough on anything metal, so window hinges and fixings can become stiff and difficult to open as rust develops. Metal balconies suffer the same fate, and what about your satellite dish? A standard one will only last around three years on a coastal house. You may also want to consider how the salty air will affect your car, if you have one.
Seasonal considerations of buying a home by the coast
Aside from the issues mentioned above, you may find that the tremendous, picturesque property you visited at a particular time of year is not quite the same at another.
For example, if you visited outside peak tourist season, there will be none of the additional road users and visitors to the town there would be during the peak summer season. Would you be able to park your car during busy periods? Will your commute, if you have one, be rammed to the gunnels with holidaymakers and their suitcases? Or perhaps you visited during a heatwave and enjoyed the sun, sea and relaxation. Consider the rough seas and storms you are likely to experience during winter months.
Buying a house is a massive commitment, so it is probably a good idea to visit the area you are interested in at different times of the year, especially homes by the coast.
Transport links and local amenities
If you are considering an area, you have not previously spent a lot of time in; it is essential you do your homework on the transport links and other local amenities to ensure they fit your lifestyle. Consider the following:
• Is the property you are interested in situated in a convenient location that is not too cut off from civilisation?
• Is it close to good, or at least acceptable, transport links? Some small villages can often feel isolated, particularly during winter, while remote places can be difficult to get to.
• Is there a hospital or shops close by, as well as places to eat and entertainment venues, such as a cinema?
• Connected to transport links, are you still able to commute? What about working remotely? The coast is renowned for its lack of reliable connectivity.
• Can you line up new employment if you have moved a substantial distance away from your previous home? Many coastal roles are seasonal, so work out how to keep the money rolling in all year round.
• Coastal properties are amongst the most sought after and can cost more than buying a home in a major UK city. A sea view comes with a hefty price tag. Are you stretching your finances too thin in trying to achieve your seaside dream?
• Will you need a parking space? Few older coastal homes have driveways, so you will be competing against holidaymakers for on-road parking, which can be scarce in peak season. In some top resorts, a parking space can cost around £40,000 to buy.
• Consider property maintenance. As stated above, owning a coastal home brings additional maintenance challenges. Sun, water, salt, damp, rust and mildew damage are all more prevalent, so you should assess the costs.
• Try before you buy. Renting a coastal home falls significantly in cost during the winter months, so try it out then. If you still love it, make your move.
• If you are buying the property to let out in the summer, will it be popular with tourists?
Try working out what is most important to you and make a wish list. This will help you make an informed decision, rather than one based on rose-tinted childhood holiday memories.
Conveyancing considerations when buying a home by the coast
It is essential your conveyancer carries out the correct due diligence, for example, by ordering searches which could help to predict future incidences of collapse or subsidence events such as sinkholes opening up, which are all growing risks to property. Where a property or land is situated close to these dangers, it can make it difficult to get a mortgage or suitable insurance cover, or perhaps even limit a sale in the future.
Tips for buying a coastal property
• Not every coastal area is affected by coastal erosion, and in areas where it is an issue, sea defences are becoming increasingly prevalent.
• In-depth property searches must be undertaken to show if any further investigation of site-specific instability, and other environmental risks, is needed. This might include having your conveyancer get a report covering the risks from nearby environmental and stability dangers.
• Ensure you choose a search report which includes coastal erosion modelled for every scenarios. It has to be said, some reports fall short, and it is vital you have full visibility of all the risks involved, over the short, medium and long term.