Coasting along

Buy now if you do like to be beside the sea, urges Rosalind Russell

Rising interest rates have done little to dampen enthusiasm for buying a second home by the sea. Within days of the opening of new show apartments in the latest phase of Barratt's Brighton Marina development, 30 of the 80 flats were reserved. Another 30 were bought in the weeks that followed.

So what's the attraction? Carolyn and Ian Holden-Semple rented a flat at the marina for a few months while deciding whether or not to buy. Eventually they bought a pounds 150,000 three-storey house for not much more than they were paying in rent.

"We loved the location and atmosphere, even though we're not boating people," says Carolyn, who works for a chargecard company based in Brighton. Other buyers have included air and ground crew working at Gatwick airport, half an hour up the motorway.

Although Barratt's prices at Brighton start at just under pounds 58,000, by no means all coastal developments cater for that market. At Moriconium Quay, on Poole Harbour in Dorset, a three-bedroom penthouse costs pounds 350,000. Seven of the 14 apartments in the development - available through Savills and Palmer Snell - also sold within days of the show-flats being opened.

A deep-water marina berth at Poole isn't cheap, either; prices of berths start at pounds 18,500. But since Poole is one of Britain's leading sailing centres, boaties are willing to pay up. The harbour has a double high tide, giving 14 hours of high water every day.

"Renewed confidence has brought the second-home and investment buyer back into the coastal market," says Liz Allsop of Savills. Berkeley Homes has only two properties left for sale in its Strand Court development in Rustington, West Sussex. The two- and three-bedroom flats in two blocks stand 30 metres from the sea and have uninterrupted views. Prices are pounds 140,000 and pounds 150,000 and each has a garage plus visitors' parking spaces.

"Almost anywhere with a view of the sea can buck the local trend in the housing market," says Shaun Hacking, of agents Fulfords. The firm is currently selling flats and houses in a development on Estuary Point, formerly the docks area of Exmouth - not usually regarded as prime tourist country. Fulfords has nevertheless sold four properties in the first week of sales. Prices begin at pounds 117,950.

Most developments levy a service charge to cover maintenance of the communal areas. McCarthy & Stone - usually builders to the retirement market - say management and service charges for their new Saxon Heights development at Brixham, Devon work out at an average of pounds 11 a week. The cliff-side flats have views across Brixham Bay and beyond. Best views are from the three-bedroom apartments on the third and fourth floors. Prices start at pounds 63,950 for a one-bedroom flat.

Barratt Brighton Marina sales 01273 818479; Moriconium Quay 01202 678086; Berkeley Homes 01403 211230; McCarthy & Stone 01803 854810; Fulfords 01392 201808

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