It’s a daydream many of us have – wake up in the morning, throw open the curtains to spectacular sea views, windswept beaches and your own boat moored to your private pontoon at the bottom of the garden. Adrian Porter investigates making the dream a reality.
BUYING a property is often representative of a major lifestyle change whether you are a first time buyer excitedly putting down roots, buying a larger house to accommodate a growing family, or moving to a new area thanks to a new job, new circumstances or just wanting to get away from it all. However, those flocking to the water to buy a property with sea views, to be on or near a marina or to be lakeside on a sailing/watersports haven, tend to represent the folk who are looking for a property to be close to their leisure activities. Because of this, a fairly affluent and mature ambiance has built up around waterside properties and you do not see many first time buyers.
Who is buying?
The majority of buyers of waterside properties can be loosely grouped into three categories:
The first are looking to buy a property to function as a UK ‘base’, often near the coast.
These buyers will also be looking to purchase an overseas home in addition to their UK property. Many of these buyers will be close to retirement or have already retired.
Secondly, there are buyers who are completely retiring into leisure. Having sold up they want to be near the activities that bring them to the water. They will be looking for a permanent base.
Lastly there are individuals and investors who want to buy a second or holiday home for occasional use or buy-to-let. If you fit into these categories or not, the underlying truth is that when you are buying a waterside property, you are not just buying a property in a prime location - you are buying into a lifestyle.
Whether you want to live near the hustle and bustle of a busy Marine Village such as Ocean Village in Southampton or in a more relaxed area such as the Cowal peninsular in West Scotland, there is something available to suit everyone.
However, the waterside property market, though unique, has not proved impervious to the financial climate and tracks the trends of the greater property market.
Essentially, sellers of prime estate are cautious as we live in uncertain times but it is slowly recovering. As a result, waterside houses are proving to be rarer than they have been in the past, though there is still a healthy number of waterside apartments and holiday homes available.
South Coast of England
The South Coast of England has a large number of marine villages from Poole to Eastbourne, as well as properties in more remote locations. New developments are appearing on the South Coast and are attracting a large amount of interest; one current hot spot is the Island Harbour development on the Isle of Wight.
Island Harbour – investment opportunity
Situated two miles upstream from Cowes, the Heron Square & Cormorant Grove housing area contains 48 high quality new builds Each property has its own mooring measuring at least ten metres.
Costing between £270,000 and £500,000, these three and four bedroom holiday homes are located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and represent some of the best deals on the market.
Despite only recently being made available, just under a quarter of them have already been sold or are under offer.
These properties cannot be bought as permanent residences. These are holiday homes and you are not allowed to live in them all year round, part of the agreement states you must own another property elsewhere.
Good news for investors is that there are few restrictions when it comes to renting out these houses – just as long as a single tenancy does not last longer than six months.
Many marine villages will apply a service charge and employ rules about living in the area. These residential by-laws can include restricting you from painting the outside of your property a different colour, changing the inside layout or parking a camper van outside your property.
Ocean Village and Island Harbour have a standard annual charge that pays for the maintenance of viewable areas such as the pontoons, grassy areas and the outside of the buildings.
Ocean Village, Southampton
Nestled in the shelter of Southampton Water, the properties within Ocean Village are ideal for those who want to remain in a bustling area surrounded by shops, restaurants and a vibrant atmosphere.
Southampton is a large city with many amenities that plays host to two universities and is known for its good shopping. London is less than 90 minutes away by train. Ocean Village Marina has 375 births, a range of facilities and is host to The Royal Southampton Yacht Club (members only).
The typical properties you will find in this area are two to three bedroom townhouses and flats. Cost wise, a two bedroom flat with a ten metre mooring can cost less than £300,000, with many coming in around the £275,000 mark. Annual service charges, mooring charges and ground rent apply on top of this cost, pushing up the price, so make sure you investigate the specifics before considering.
There is a strong rental market in Ocean Village with one to three bedroom flats being renting out for between £595 and £1,300 pcm. Leaders is a letting agency with Buy-to-Let services and an extensive property portfolio in Ocean Village. www.leaders.co.uk
In 2009, Country Life Magazine named Devon the best county in which to live.
Its 2,589 square miles is a rolling green expanse of beautiful countryside, clotted cream, hills, valleys and rivers. Luckily for the ocean goer, Devon is also famous for its fishing villages, good sailing and for it being the only county in the UK to have two separate coastlines.
Torbay (or Tor Bay) is an excellent sailing area with 16 square miles of sea caught between 22 miles of coastline. The three towns in the bay are Paignton, Brixham and Torquay, the latter of which is home to the Royal Torbay Yacht Club. The Torquay marina houses 440 berths and happily there is property available in the area. Apartments represent the majority of what is available, with one bedroom flats from £80,000 and two bedroom apartments starting at around £140,000. Those looking for a two or three bedroom property near the harbour will need at least £300,000 to £350,000 but many of these will be near the water as opposed to next to it.
Those with deeper pockets would be interested in Torquay’s more luxurious harbourside properties, whose price tags start at around £600,000 and stretch into the millions. But if you are looking for something truly magnificent, a bit quieter and your funds are near limitless. This startling riverside property can be found in the nearby town of Tuckenhay, several miles upstream from Dartmouth:
The property is prices at £2.4 million and is known as the Old Bakehouse. On the market for the first time in 30 years, if it has not already sold by the time this article has been published, it may go soon and not be available again for a very long time. The property is again being sold through Waterside Properties.
Planning for the future
If you can see yourself retiring in the next ten years you may want to keep an eye on a new bid that has just been submitted to North Devon District Council.
A multi-million pound, 250 berth marina and housing development may spring up in the next ten years between the villages of Northam and Appledore on the North Coast of Devon.
The marina may feature a yard, crane and fuel facilities, and there are plans for 450 homes and a 60-bed retirement village as well as shops, restaurants and a medical centre.
However, this development is only in the planning phases and has met local resistance. Even if everything did work out as hoped, it is not likely that building would begin in the next 12 months, plus it would take more than five years to complete . . . but if you are looking to retire in Devon in about 10 years, then watch this space.
If these bustling marine villages along the South Coast are not your thing, then you may wish to consider looking for properties a bit out of the way.
Such properties can be challenging to find but certainly worth the effort if you find the property of your dreams, such as this two bedroom former Coastguard Cottage in Dorset:
2 Bed former Coastguard Cottage
Lounge, Kitchen, large Conservatory
Dorset Jurassic Coast
Far from the madding crowd, rural, coastal, hardy country
Views across the Fleet to Chesil Beach and Lyme Bay beyond
The buyers of this property were reportedly convinced by its location, the fantastic views and being able to hear the sea from their terrace.
The west coast has undoubtedly become the home of sailing in Scotland. Hosting many well established annual events such as the Largs Regatta and the West Highland Yachting Week, the west coast has marinas and sailing clubs peppering its shoreline.
Just 30 miles away from Glasgow, Largs Yacht Haven is situated on the west coast in North Ayrshire, on the Clyde.
The well sheltered marina is particularly popular as it boasts a stunning location and views with easy access to the Island of Bute, the Isle of Arran and Little Cumbree Island. Ireland is also a day’s sail away for those going further afield. The marina is run by Yacht Haven www.yachthavens.com.
In the nearby town of Dunoon is the company WaterSide Property (not to be confused with the Waterside Properties in the UK) an estate agents who themselves are new on the market and despite being only six months old, already have a humble but impressive collection of waterside properties.
The first featured home is less than eight miles north of the Yacht Haven, albeit on the other side of the loch, and is located in the quiet hamlet of Toward.
The area is peaceful, has some amenities and is ideal for a water sports enthusiast with Toward sailing club on the doorstop and Loch Lomond a short drive to the north. The five bedroom villa (pictured) has stunning uninterrupted views over the Clyde Estuary from Gourock to the east and the isles of Cumbrae and Arran to the west, and is being sold for £399,000.
Stunning uninterrupted sea views
Gas central heating
Large landscaped gardens
At the other end of the spectrum , those looking for a smaller abode may be interested in the following two bedroom cottage next to the Holy Loch Marina in Sandbank, available for offers over £95,000
Holy Loch Marina has been proposed as the marine gateway to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Loch Lomond is the largest fresh water loch in Scotland stretching out an impressive 24 miles. It is home to a variety of water sports and has its own sailing club.
The water surrounding the thriving city of Cardiff and its fashionable Cardiff Bay is, startlingly, a 200 hectare freshwater lake.
Created in 2001, the Barrage, an award winning civil engineering project, was put in place to create the bay that we can see today. Access to the Bay is granted by the locks which are available to boat users 24 hours a day. Watersports in Cardiff Bay include two established sailing clubs, an international standard swimming pool and Cardiff International White Water (CIWW), which opens in spring 2010 and will be part of the International Sports Village.
The residential areas of Cardiff Bay’s eight miles of waterfront development are divided into different developments of flats. Those wanting houses will have to look inland.
The most prestigious apartment complex is Century Wharf and a luxury two bedroom apartment here will cost approximately £200,000 to £250,000 and upwards. One bedroom studio flats are available from £100,000.
The following two bedroom apartment is part of Victoria Wharf and is £192,995:
The property features a balcony, river views, fitted kitchen, two double bedrooms, en-suite and family bathroom, secure private parking and allocated space with 24hr concierge service.
Cardiff Bay, the Barrage, the Inner and Outer Harbour and parts of the Rivers Taff and Ely are all managed by Cardiff Harbour Authority (CHA) as part of Cardiff Council. www.cardiffharbour.com
Search for that perfect waterside home
MANY people born with the sea in their veins retain a dream to one day live by the water. For some it is the quest for a sea view, to watch the comings and goings of all manner of craft from your living room window or balcony, to enjoy the mood and light swings of the water and the romance of a setting sun.
For others it is the thought of an active retirement or using the water for leisure. Being close to beaches or moorings for boats, cliff walks, bright lights, restaurants, yacht clubs and social camaraderie.
The UK coastline is so varied and so long that it is difficult for buyer to know where to focus or even where to start.
Think about where
This is a major move, a fun move. You are going to derive a lot of pleasure from the house or apartment you buy. So take your time, think about where you want to be, the type of environment, what will work for you.
If you own another home, this may be your holiday home. It may need to be within say a two hour drive so you can get there for weekends. If this is a main lifestyle move, how are the family going to find you? Do you want them to?
Think about what
Is it your own personal retreat where you can pull up the draw bridge or are you going to need to entertain with lots of space? Do you want a mooring, a balcony, a view, a sunny aspect, a garden, an apartment or a house, one bedroom, three bedrooms, five bedrooms? The questions go on!
To unravel the dilemmas you must spend time researching. Researching can be great fun when you are looking for the house of your dreams.
A good example of type is the Marina Home. Up and down the country over the last 25 years, we have seen the construction of a select number of marina villages. Some are the extension of town centre dockland, others are bespoke purpose built towns or villages designed to stand alone as community and leisure centres or to blend with the local community.
All provide a distinct style of waterside living. It is likely that once you have considered the concept of marina villages, you will find there is such diversity that there may be one to fit your own style, your own purse and your own dreams.
Take a look along the south coast
The majority of marina villages on the south coast lie between Eastbourne and Poole. They have similarities but all are very different in style, ambiance and some key features. The nature of a marina village means that it provides residential housing in and around a marina basin with moorings for boats.
We have compiled a table (see next page) to help those beginning their search to find their ideal marina village and perhaps their ultimate dream home.
All you have to do now is hop in the car, head to the coast and start that research. Welcome aboard!
Visit Waterside Properties, Estate Agents and Property Managers:
The calmer coastal resort of Abersoch provides a big contrast to busy Cardiff.
But with its healthy tourist industry, it represents more of a half way house between the busy marine villages and the houses in completely remote surroundings. Abersoch and its internationally recognised sailing waters host many events, notably sailing of small craft but does not have a marina.
Small dinghies are often left overnight on the main beach during the sailing season and larger yachts can be moored offshore and moorings are laid by Meirion Lloyd-Jones - www.moorings-abersoch.co.uk
The nearest marina is in Hafan Pwllheli, Glan Don, just seven and a half miles away from Abersoch.
The estate agent based in Abersoch, Beresford Adams, is reportedly the only one and has several properties with sea views.
Cost varies in the area but is generally high-end. Examples of costs include a four/five bedroom house with a view of the bay for £575,000, a three bedroom detached bungalow for £300,000 or a three bedroom chalet home for £160,000. Featured is a six bedroom manor house for £695,000.
The property is located conveniently away from the bustle of Abersoch (during tourist season) but all amenities are within 0.5 mile distant including the main beach with its small boat launching facility, the renowned South Caernarfonshire Yacht Club. The Sea Views can be seen over the golf course.
Not surprisingly, there are also holiday homes on offer for those looking to make an investment or just purchase a second home. www.abersoch.co.uk is not only a guide to the area but also provides links to holiday homes for sale.
Inland - Riverside
Not all waterside properties are coastal. There are many riverside homes dotting the rivers and navigable inland waterways across Britain.
Waterview is a company specialising in selling housing along the Thames, and has some rather impressive properties:
Hamm Court, Weybridge, Surrey:
The £1,125,000 property features four bedrooms, the master bedroom with dressing room & en-suite, luxury Fitted Kitchen, full Width Riverside Decking, beautiful gardens, deep water moorings and its own slipway – stunning River Thames view as standard.
Alternatively, for £599,950 is a three bedroom house on Friary Island in Wraysbury. The property is fairly unique in that it has mooring on either side of the property:
Views of the Thames can be enjoyed from the 24 foot riverside lounge, which leads to the veranda.
Risks and tips
It would be expected that living near the water may bring with it extra risks not found in property elsewhere.
This is true to an extent. Some areas across the UK have experienced flooding in recent years and at the time of writing this article, three flood warnings have been issued for the north-east and 59 flood watches across the rest of England.
The Environment Agency website has a flooding section including a facility where you can type in your would-be postcode to see how prone the area is to flooding, the severity of the risk and if the area is protected by flood defences or not.www.environment-agency.gov.uk
There are also more unusual problems such as those experienced by a couple in Weymouth in February 2009, whose garden they found to be six foot shorter than it use to be after it slipped off the cliff they lived on.
It is advisable to have a comprehensive survey done of the property, especially if it is an older property, not part of a marine village or in a high risk area such as atop a cliff.
There are three levels of survey available. The simplest is the ‘Basic Valuation’ survey will only report the obvious weaknesses you may have noticed yourself and is only really suitable for modern new builds.
It is arguably wiser to go for the Homebuyers Report or Building Survey (else known as the ‘Structural Survey’) these more in depth surveys should let you know what the true state of the property is, details of what both of these reports include can be found here: