Country houses for sale

Property Talk: Why do we all love waterside homes?

Rivers, lakes, canals and the sea act as magnets for buyers. Annabel Dixon explores why ‘water always bucks the trend’.

The summer is a prime time to hanker after a waterside home. The days are longer and the weather is brighter – when better to enjoy the perks of a home by the water? Perhaps a spot of paddle boarding at lunchtime and later on, a sundowner at the water’s edge.

Waterside homes have long been popular, and particularly during the pandemic-led ‘race for space’.

Their appeal means that the average price paid for homes in waterside postcodes has climbed by 23% in five years. And in 2022, prices for waterside homes outpaced the wider housing market for the first time in five years, according to Jackson-Stops’ Waterside Review. Prices for homes by the water increased by an average 10% last year, compared with the UK average of 8%.

The estate agent also found that 57% of waterside properties sold above their guide price last year — significantly higher than the 27% in 2020.

Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, says: ‘Their [waterside homes] tranquility combined with their scarcity tend to offer a winning combination for many buyers, often benefitting the most from house price booms, like the one we saw in 2021 during the race for space, for both green and blue landscapes.’

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Fast forward to this year, and a home set by the water was worth up to 48% more than a similar property without the same waterside advantage between April and June, separate research by Knight Frank reveals. The overall premium was just two percentage points lower than a year ago.

What price a view? This house on Chichester Harbour is for sale via Jackson-Stops at £1.695m.

Andrew Richardson, director at Jackson-Stops Chichester branch, points out West Strand in West Wittering, ‘arguably the best road on the UK coast’, where a £400,000 property 10 years ago would now sell for upwards of £3m. ‘Water always bucks the trend,’ he says.

Sarah-Jane Bingham-Chick, partner in Knight Frank’s Exeter office, believes that a more hybrid approach to working has helped people realise their dream of living by the water.

She explains: ‘Not only has the pandemic made the waterfront lifestyle more appealing, but it’s also made it more realistic. A lot of families and their employers have realised they can work efficiently at home, with fewer visits to the office each month.’

Inland locations overlooking rivers and streams topped the charts for commanding ‘consistently high waterside premiums’ compared with seaside settings, according to Jackson-Stops.

Leeming says: ‘Certainly those homes that come with moorings and direct water frontage, are absolutely gold dust. Planning permission can be hard fought to build on these already populated locations due to their proximity to water – we often see developers get there first.’

Knight Frank’s Waterfront Index found that homes set by a lake or loch attracted the biggest average premium in the last three months, with a 71% uplift, unchanged from last year.

Coastal homes came second, commanding an average premium of 66% compared with an equivalent non-waterfront property.

This gorgeous four-bedroom home on Robin Hood’s Bay is for sale at £600,000 with Carter Jonas. Move even a few hundred yards inland and you’ll find a place twice the size for the same money — yet unless you’re desperate for the space, this feels like the one that people would want.

Homes on estuaries took the third spot — down from joint-first position last year — with an average premium of 64%. Harbour and riverside properties took fourth and fifth places respectively.

Nigel Bishop, founder of buying agency Recoco Property Search, notes that for many buyers, properties with estuary views are more attractive than those located on a seashore because they ‘embrace a much more engaging waterside living experience’.

Stuart Williams, estate director at Silverlake, a 260-hectare nature reserve and gated holiday home community in Dorset, says that while properties with private or direct access to the water are the most popular, there is limited availability for these plots.

He explains: ‘Lots of buyers though like the appeal of having a holiday home set slightly back from the water as they can offer a little more privacy, but still have access to the communal jetties that give them access to our network of lakes.’

He adds: ‘As holiday homes, most of our buyers are purchasing as a lifestyle investment, often as part of longer-term financial planning by buying in family members’ names.’

The Silverlake Estate, Dorset, where homes are available from £495,000 to £1.3m. Credit: Habit First Group

The waterfront homes market isn’t immune to wider pressures though. The pandemic-led race for space now appears to be fading. And there are those well-reported economic headwinds tightening purse strings. The average price of a property in Knight Frank’s Waterfront Index fell by 2.5% between the first and second quarters of this year.

But buyer demand in this corner of the housing market remains strong and cash buyers are in ‘pole position’, according to Knight Frank. It found that more than half (54%) of those who bought a waterside home in the last five years did so in cash, compared with an average of 29% in the wider UK housing market.

Leonardo Biagioni, founder of Seaspace Homes, says that since the initial spike in demand during the pandemic, the market has levelled out, which means that the majority of viewings are with serious buyers and fewer window shoppers.

Bishop explains: ‘The market for waterfront homes has cooled post-pandemic as we see fewer city dwellers planning a long-term escape. That being said, properties in close proximity or with views of the water remain highly sought-after and house hunters will find that choice is often limited whilst demand is driven by buyers with larger budgets.’

Three waterside homes for sale

Wadebridge, Cornwall — £5m

Well this clifftop location takes some beating! Built by the seller’s grandparents in 1937, the four-bedroom house boasts breathtaking views of the ever-popular north Cornish coastline. It’s close to wide sandy beaches, St Enodoc Golf Club – and some top notch dining too.

For sale with Savills. See more pictures of this property.


Poole, Dorset — £2.695m

This three-bedroom, ground floor apartment is the last available home in the high spec waterfront Harbour development. Facilities include a jetty for direct water access, boat and kit store, and a waterside terrace as well as a gym, sauna and games room. Expect sweeping panoramic views of Poole Harbour.

For sale with Tailor Made. See more pictures of this property.


Appin, Argyll and Bute — £1.6m

Get away from it all at Druimavuic House, situated on the shores of Loch Creran, around 17 miles northwest of Oban. Thought to have been built by the Campbell clan in 1750, the eight-bedroom house was fully renovated in 2010. It comes with various outbuildings and extensive gardens.

For sale with Knight Frank. See more pictures of this property.

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