Second homes in Cornwall in decline as buyers move away from London
PUBLISHED: 15:44 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:23 21 March 2014
Cornwall is becoming more attractive as a permanent base as buyers move from London and become Cornish residents – with smaller cottages being freed up for locals
Ten years ago, when an estate agent’s telephone rang in Cornwall the keen buyer on the other end of the line was very often “...cash, second home...”. This went on for many years until the market peaked in 2007, with much political debate as to the consequences for local communities.
Well the tide is most definitely turning, reversing the previous trend and perhaps restoring some balance in some areas. For a long time, Cornwall was the place people chose for retirement or holidays, but now we are seeing less of those buyers, and many more young families relocating here, but perhaps keeping a flat in London as their second home, to use when they are working. These are very often people who were brought up in Cornwall, and left for university and career, but would like their children to have the same up-bringing they had. They can’t move back in totality, because their work is in London or overseas, but they have decided to move their main home to Cornwall for their family, and keep a flat or small house in London for work only.
London is now home to the highest proportion of second homes in the UK with the trend set by overseas buyers now being followed by British citizens who want their families to have the quality of life they had themselves as a child. The gap between house prices in the capital and the west country of England is the largest it has ever been, and it is this which is prompting many to consider relocating. The soaring prices in London have put many people in a position where they can sell their London townhouse, and for the same money, buy a large farmhouse or manor with cottages in the country, and a flat in London. This gives them the best of both worlds. They get to capitalise on the huge rise in value of their London house, buy a large family home in the country and keep a toe in the London market as well.
Of course we are still selling properties as second homes, but far less than we did a few years ago and this trend could continue over the coming years. When one steps back and sees the changes that have taken place in Cornwall in the last decade, it is hardly surprising that people want to return or relocate to Cornwall much earlier in life than they did before. The coastline and landscape may not have changed much at all, but the amenities and communications certainly have. Cornwall now has its very own University, superfast broadband, yacht marinas, a theatre, Michelin-starred restaurants and as I write this, six flights daily from Newquay Airport to London Gatwick. People have always been lured to Cornwall by its surfing breaks and sailing waters, but there is now much more to Cornwall than the water sports alone.
What are the implications of this trend? Well, not that long ago it was much harder to find buyers for large country houses in Cornwall. Buyers just wanted a cottage on the coast and had no desire for a large home with all the liabilities that go with it. Now however, these same country houses look extremely good value to buyers coming from London and also have all the things they don’t get with a townhouse in the capital – land and privacy. As such, we have noticed a very significant increase in enquiries and interest in large properties for use as main homes, and especially so if they have an income attached, such as a holiday letting cottage or two.
The values of those larger period house which tend to be a little inland have never seen the rises that those coastal properties enjoyed, but now with increasing demand from London buyers, I can see the prices of the former closing the gap, as demand outstrips supply.
For more great advice contact www.savills.co.uk 01872 243200 and ask for Jonathan Cunliffe