According to a recent study by Halifax, the most expensive seaside town in Britain in 2022 was Salcombe, located in Devon with an average house price of over £1.2 million. The town overtook Sandbanks in Dorset, which was the priciest seaside spot in 2021.

Seven of the top ten most expensive seaside spots were located in Devon and Cornwall, with the least expensive seaside location being Greenock in Scotland, where the average house price was £97,608. The analysis, which covered house price data for 209 coastal locations across England, Wales and Scotland in the 12 months to December 2022, showed that the cost of coastal homes across the UK increased by 56% between 2012 and 2022, from £195,509 to £304,460.

Salcombe’s main attraction is the picturesque estuary that forms the town’s extensive waterfront, making it a popular place for water activities. It is also favoured by ramblers who are drawn to the area’s steep coastal paths. While it is rich in natural beauty, Salcombe “does not function like a normal town”, according to South Hams District Council leader Judy Pearce. The high proportion of second homes in the town “makes life quite difficult” for the council, as the population surges from about 2,000 to more than 23,000 in the summer months. Salcombe has a population of about 2,000 residents, according to the 2011 census.

Many of the most expensive seaside locations in the Halifax analysis were found along the coastline of southern England, all areas popular with second homeowners. During the early months of the Covid pandemic, coastal and rural locations were particularly popular as house hunters looked for properties with more space. Other locations where house prices have at least doubled over the past decade include Margate and Westgate-on-Sea in Kent. By the end of 2022, a home in Margate cost 109% more, on average, than it did in 2012, rising from £146,276 to £305,191. The average cost of a property in Westgate-on-Sea doubled, from £154,686 to £308,764.

Kim Kinnaird, mortgages director at Halifax, said owning a home by the sea was an “aspiration” for many. “But this comes at a price in many locations and Britain’s most expensive seaside spot, Salcombe in Devon, will set buyers back over £1.2m on average,” she said. She said second home ownership “undoubtedly” played a role in driving up house prices in desirable locations. “While house prices in any location are driven by factors such as supply and demand and interest rates, there are also socio-economic factors at play,” she added.

The council in Salcombe is “fairly limited” in what it can do to make homes more affordable, according to Judy Pearce. The authority has, however, agreed to charge second homeowners double council tax if legislation is approved by Parliament.

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