4 June 2021 by Melanie Carroll

I DO LIKE TO BUY BESIDE THE SEASIDE – What you need to know about buying a coastal property?


The pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the property market and the lockdowns have made us reflect on what’s important in a home.  With commuting becoming less important, there’s been a greater focus on the outside, green space and nature.  There has also been a migration from ‘city to seaside’ and this is being reflected in prices.

According to data from Rightmove, Cornwall has eclipsed London as the most searched for location on their platform, with both Devon and Dorset also featuring high up on the list.  ‘Poldark’ country, with its rural and rugged location, sensational scenery and relaxed way of life and is becoming an incredibly popular place to live, not just to visit.

However, buying ‘by the sea’ presents its own set of issues – what do you need to know?



Simply put, coastal flooding is when the coast is flooded by the sea caused by high tide levels, surge waters or wave action.  Flooding can cause damage to property, affect insurance premiums and, at worst, endanger lives.  Coastal areas have defences but properties by the sea are still at risk.



The Jurassic coast in Dorset hit the headlines recently, with two substantial landslides and rockfall and further significant movement can’t be ruled out.  According to data from a search provider, 750 properties will be lost ‘to the sea’ in the next 20 years, 2000 homes between 20 and 50 years from now and 5,700 after that.  Again, like flooding this can cause damage to both people and property and have an adverse effect on insurance premiums.



All houses need to be looked after but the maintenance is often greater, and required more frequently, for properties exposed to sea winds and salt.  Roof slates and chimneys can be susceptible to damage in high winds, exposed metalwork will need frequent re-painting to counteract salt erosion and PVC gutters and pipes will expand and contract in extreme coastal weather having a detrimental effect on longevity.  You will need a detailed survey, before you proceed, so you can be sure of not only the condition of the property, but the ongoing costs of keeping it in good condition.  A sea view comes at a price!

You should also note that if the property is listed (as many are), then you may be precluded from carrying out certain works, and other works will almost certainly need listed building consent.



If you buy a house with a mortgage then you must have buildings insurance in place.  Even if you don’t need a mortgage, not protecting such a sizeable investment would be foolish.   The effect of the above issues is that it can be difficult to secure buildings insurance, and, if you do, you may find that the price and the terms are less than favourable.  It’s not advisable to leave this until you’ve exchanged – it’s sensible to look into this before you consider making an offer.



If you are buying a property in an unfamiliar area, then you must ensure that your solicitor carries out all searches relevant to that location – you won’t need a tin and copper mining search if you’re buying in Poplar but you will if you’re buying in Polperro!  You should consider a detailed environmental search which will address and comment on both coastal erosion and flooding.

It’s also sensible to visit your preferred location at different times of the year – the solitude and serenity evident at certain times of the year will dissipate once the schools break up…

In summary, there is no need to panic – there are extra considerations when buying ‘by the sea’ but these may seem like a small price to pay for waking up to hear the waves lashing against the shore.

When buying property, wherever situated, it’s critical to surround yourself with experts who will listen to you and tailor their service to your needs and concerns.  You need an expert team on your side including agents, mortgage brokers, insurance brokers, surveyors and, of course, an excellent lawyer!

For further information, please contact our Residential Real Estate experts.

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