Wild West Country: The rise of the million-pound bolthole

In Devon and Cornwall, a shortage of desirable cottages has sent prices soaring. Jonathan Christie on the rise and rise of the million-pound bolthole
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The Independent Online

The West Country's been a property hotspot for several years now. Rock, Salcombe and Newquay are just the tip of the iceberg that's had buyers scrambling for a slice of rural heaven for more than a decade. Now, more than ever, there are two tiers to the West Country's housing market.

Attractive properties in the smarter villages and towns, particularly on the coast, have boomed, leaving their more ordinary neighbours standing. Now we've reached the tipping point: welcome to the era of the million-pound bolthole.

Cute thatched cottages or tucked away granite farmhouses have always enjoyed selling at a premium down here, but it seems City bonuses and ever-increasing second-home budgets have moved these properties on once again. "Houses with 'eye' appeal will typically go for 10 per cent more," says Rick Marchand of Marchand Petit in Salcombe. "People buy with their heart, and for buyers moving to the area looking for a different lifestyle, the last few thousand pounds usually doesn't matter. It's supply and demand and there is only a limited supply of these kinds of properties. There is a shortage."

Stags in Truro (01872 264 488, www.stags.co.uk) is selling an un-modernised beachside cottage on the harbour in St Ives. It has two bedrooms, one reception and a sun terrace. You can't park a car, or swing a largish cat, but its postcard-perfect façade has probably been painted hundreds of times by the local artists. Offers over £400,000 are sought, with the actual cost including renovation probably being nearer half a million -well over the £250,000 average for a terraced house in the town.

The charge west continues, as does the plight of local buyers, but with sellers seeing asking prices achieved, it seems you can't hold back the desire to own the perfect bolthole - whatever the cost. So, if you're sitting in your Aga-heated kitchen surrounded by hill views to die for, wondering if it's time to move on, why not get an agent round for a valuation? You could be pleasantly shocked.

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