Many people dream of living by the sea. Turning this dream into a reality isn’t easy however – coastal properties can be expensive and there are other practicalities to consider too. Here are a few tips for those wanting to own a property by the coast.
Don’t always follow the crowds
Generally, the most popular and renowned seaside resort towns and ports are the ones that will have the most expensive property. If you’re after a coastal property but don’t want to spend a fortune, you might be better off looking into smaller and less known settlements along the coast.
These sleepier seaside settlements may not have the social opportunities of more popular towns and may be missing other amenities such as banks and schools, which could be a downside of searching off the beaten track. Consider what your needs are and whether you’d be prepared to make a ten or twenty minute drive to the nearest major town in exchange for an affordable home by the sea.
You may also be able to take advantage of an upcoming seaside settlement. Here the prices may be still low but rising, making this a great area for an investment. Signs of a growing tourist trade could also make it a good place for a holiday home that you can rent out to guests. Predicting which places are upcoming isn’t easy and could require talking to locals and doing research on upcoming projects such as hotels, restaurants, shops, public transport links and leisure facilities.
Consider specialist realtors
When shopping for property with the help of an agent, it’s often beneficial to use a company that knows the area. Agencies such as 30A Local Properties focus on coastal properties in certain areas, and are more likely to find something to your specs than a general agency, which may only have a few coastal properties. You can also quiz these agencies about the area to get some local knowledge on facilities and what there is to do.
Weigh up the cost of a sea view
Sea views can add on a lot of value – in some popular seaside towns and areas, they can increase the value by as much as 40%. If you just want the sea in walking distance, it could be worth moving away from the beachfront a little in order to save costs. If you don’t mind taking a small drive to the coast, you could save costs even more.
For those that have their heart set on a sea view, be prepared to act soon when a property comes up on the market. These properties don’t hang around long on the market and there’s generally no negotiating the price. You may be able to save money by not opting for somewhere too trendy and popular. You also may be able to save money by settling for a distorted sea view (e.g. having other properties in front but still being able to see a glimmer of the sea). Some agents can use the words ‘sea view’ very liberally, which is why it’s worth always visiting the property for yourself – a distorted view from the bathroom window if you stand on your toes and crane your neck might not be worth the added price.
Look into risks of flooding and erosion
Living by the sea may have certain risks – some areas of the coast are prone to flooding, whilst property on clifftops may be prone to danger from erosion. Agents may not want to delve too much into these risks and so you may want to do some of your own research. Red flags to look out for could include flood warning/falling rocks road signs or signs of waterlogging in the garden. You may also be able to find out information by asking the neighbours if they’ve experienced flooding.
Getting your property’s land professionally surveyed could give you the peace of mind you need. There are surveyors such as Dowling Dodd that specialise in coastal properties. On top of flood risks and possibility of erosion, these professionals may also be able to warn you about general future dangers to be worried about such as property wear and tear.
A surveyor report could also help when getting insured. Many insurers will charge high rates for coastal properties without doing much research into actual flood risk. A report done by a professional that says your property isn’t a flood risk could help you to negotiate lower pricing. For well known flood risk areas, you may not be able to get insured at all by mainstream providers and may have to look into specialised flood insurance companies. Flood Assist is just one such company that specialises in providing this type of insurance, taking a thorough assessment of the risks to find a scheme that fits you.
Protect your property against salt damage
Even if your home isn’t at risk of flood damage, winds carrying spray from the sea and salt could cause long-term damage to your property. It’s worth checking if a property has been protected against this – special exterior finishes can prevent damage to the brickwork. A surveyor may be able to give you this information if an agent or property owner doesn’t know this information themselves.
If a property hasn’t been protected and you still want to purchase it, you may be able to easily apply this exterior finish yourself. Companies like Log Finish sell sealants and paints for property exteriors to protect against salt damage. On top of sealants for brickwork, there are finishes available to protect wood, metal and even glass.