Real estate agents fall over themselves to talk about the growing demand for beach houses.
Protected between the sand dunes and the Marram grass, they are among the most sought-after houses on the market.
“I recently had a client who could spend £ 3 million on one,” says Jason Stubbs, real estate agent whose business covers the East Sussex-Kent coast.
At the highest level: houses on Iona in the Inner Hebrides. Beach house rentals generate a staggering return on investment, especially after Covid
“When I told him there weren’t any for sale, he said he would go on £ 6m just to have a beach position.”
Stubbs believes the locks went a long way in adding value to beach houses. London businessmen who are used to zooming in on calls have discovered that they can work from the beach.
Beach houses undoubtedly attract their share of eccentrics. The artist Michael B. White, who describes himself as a bohemian and hedonist, owned Nepenthe, a lookout post converted from oak and mahogany halfway up the cliff in Cliff End Cove between Rye and Hastings.
Then there was the 40-year-old international banker who had made a fortune but decided one day he could no longer waste his life in airports and boardrooms.
He bought a beach house in Camber Sands to spend time with his girlfriend, playing acoustic guitar and kitesurfing. To replenish the coffers, he rented the house to film companies for odd days.
Sir Paul McCartney made a promotional video there.
It is nostalgia that brings most shoppers to the sand hills in search of a home.
Sarah Rugg, 47, fell in love with Sennen Cove in Cornwall as a child and vacationed there with her own family for 25 years.
Her goal was to live in the area, but prices were always above her budget. Then she discovered Nest Seekers International was taking offers for a rather dated house high above the dunes.
“It’s those views over the beach and down the coast to Cape Cornwall that sold it to me,” says Sarah, who works as a freelance small business consultant in Chester. “I’m going to tear this place down and build a perverted five-bedroom house with a balcony on the top floor.”
While beach houses are undeniably expensive, renting them out during high season is a way to ease mortgage payments.
Sarah reckons her new home will cost more than £ 800,000. However, if she is renting to vacationers, she should be able to charge £ 6,500 per week in high season.
“First, I’ll be renting out most of the summer,” says Sarah. “I’ll be moving here in a couple of years to work full time from home after paying back some of my loans.”
Beach house rentals are generating staggering returns on the Cornwall coast, especially after Covid. The county is full of staycationers. Lower Saltings is a one bedroom, ground floor apartment overlooking Porthmeor Beach, just a short walk from St Ives Harbor.
It is on sale for £ 930,000 and generates an annual profit of £ 40,000 as a vacation rental (knightfrank.co.uk).
Other areas aren’t quite as fashionable, but the beach houses are just as impressive. In Pagham, near Bognor Regis in West Sussex, a three bedroom modernist beach house is for sale for £ 1.15 million.
It has a roof garden and terrace that leads directly to Pagham Beach (hamptons.co.uk).
You get more home for your pound in Scotland. The Fishery House in Dumfriesshire is a modern five bedroom house with a cinema room, gym and sauna.
The property, which has direct access to the banks of the Solway Firth, is on sale for £ 585,000 (fineproperties.co.uk).
There are downsides to owning a beach house, too. Since maintenance is open to winter storms, it is an ongoing task.
Their situation often means they are a reasonable distance from amenities that are closest to them. Gardeners won’t get much pleasure from sandy soil.
Seriously, the home can be prone to coastal erosion. It would be advisable to conduct a survey before purchasing.
But none of this will put off true beach house lovers.
“These properties are sensational and as rare as a chicken’s teeth,” says Jo Ashby, director at John Bray’s estate agents, who claims to have one of the most dramatic beach houses in Cornwall on the market. “Buyers want a new lifestyle and nothing else will.”