DEMAND for houses close to the shore has caused property prices to soar in many coastal towns in the past three years.
House price inflation in 75 of 100 coastal resorts surveyed by Halifax outstripped the pace of growth in surrounding inland areas.
City workers keen to enjoy some relaxation by the sea have been instrumental in stoking up house prices in pretty coastal towns. Despite a slowdown in the housing market over the past few months, prices in seaside resorts have risen steadily, Halifax said.
Homeowners who bought houses in Padstow, Cornwall, three years ago have seen the value of their properties more than double.
The average cost of a house in the town has risen from £109,833 to £267,445, an increase of 144 per cent.
House prices have risen by an average 80.9 per cent across Britain since 2001, with prices in the South West climbing by 62 per cent.
Other Cornish towns have seen a similar growth; the average cost of a home in Fowey, which overlooks the English Channel, has risen by 121 per cent to £268,212.
Farther down the coast, houses are cheaper. In Penzance, the average property costs £192,511 — up from £89,650 in 2001, an increase of 115 per cent.
Homebuyers who want to settle beside the sea will pay a premium if they want to be in southern England.
The ten most expensive towns on the coast are in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Hampshire.
The most expensive is Sandbanks in Dorset, at the mouth of Poole Harbour, where the average price is £386,140. Interestingly, prices in the area have risen by only 20 per cent in the past three years.
Moving 60 miles down the coast will save buyers about £144,000, with the average cost of a home in Lyme Regis £241,739.
House prices in the South East have risen by 45 per cent since 2001 but in Sandwich, Kent, prices have more than doubled in the past three years.
The average property in the town, which is close to the popular beach at Sandwich Bay, is £222,776.
It is not only English towns that have seen prices climb steeply since 2001. House prices in Cardigan on the Pembrokeshire coast have risen by £85,115 to £152,490, an increase of 126 per cent. A property in Pwllheli, on the Lleyn Peninsula in Gwynedd, North Wales, would have cost about £79,424 three years ago. Today, buyers would pay twice as much to close the deal.
House prices in Prestatyn, the Mumbles, Llandudno and Barry, South Glamorgan, have all risen by more than the Welsh average of 82 per cent.
Those keen to enjoy the sea air for less cash should head north. Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria is one of the cheapest places to buy a home, with the average cost of a property just £69,390. A house in Maryport, Workington or Whitehaven in Cumbria will cost less than £90,000.
Three years ago, a property in Seaham, on the west coast between Sunderland and Hartlepool, cost an average of £40,463. Since then, the average price has more than doubled to £82,502, but it is still ranked by Halifax as the fifth most affordable town in which to buy a home by the sea.
Homebuyers have also looked farther afield, with an estimated 500,000 British people having bought properties in France. In Brittany, one of the most popular areas for British property purchases, €450,000 (£300,000) will give buyers more house for their money than in Britain — or, for that matter, Spain. A renovated, five-bedroom, 19th-century timber house with a pigeon loft, outbuildings and 1.5 hectares of parkland is on the market for €441,000.