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Coastal homes sell twenty days quicker than pre-pandemic as city to seaside demand doubles

  • Homes for sale in coastal locations across Great Britain have been selling twenty days quicker than in 2019, dropping from an average of 71 to 51 days
  • City dwellers enquiring about homes for sale in coastal locations has more than doubled compared to before the pandemic (+115%), as more people chose to swap cities for a life by the coast
  • On average the asking price of a home in a coastal area is 7% higher than in 2019, outpacing average growth in cities of 5%
  • Dartmouth tops the list for the biggest increase in buyers searching for a home compared to 2019, followed by Salcombe, with Fowey in Cornwall in third
  • The study shows on average the surge in demand has helped the pace of coastal markets catch up with cities, but may increase competition among buyers

New data shows a surge in demand for homes in coastal locations from people living in cities, leading to properties being snapped up more quickly. The analysis examined over 120 coastal areas across Great Britain, to look at the shifts in buyer behaviour compared to before the pandemic. Back in 2019 it was taking an average 71 days to find a buyer for a home in a coastal location. That has now dropped to 51 days, a significant drop of 20 days.

The norm is for homes in coastal locations to take longer on average to find a buyer than the faster paced markets in cities. While city markets have also sped up, the average time has dropped by 13 days. This puts coastal locations and cities level, now taking 51 days to find a buyer on average.

Location Time to find a buyer2019 (days) Time to find a buyer2021 (days) Change
Coastal locations 71 51 -20 days
Cities 64 51 -13 days
All areas nationally 66 50 -16 days


Compared to before the pandemic, the number of buyers living in cities sending enquiries to estate agent about homes in coastal locations has increased by 115%. This compares to a much lower increase of 36% in enquiries from people living in a city enquiring to move but to stay in that city. This suggests a more sustained shift in buyer preference than initially thought, driven by multiple factors such as the ability to work from home and a re-examining of priorities.

Prices of homes by the coast are also performing more strongly than in cites. The average cost of a coastal home increased 7% in 2021 compared to 2019, from £255,075 to £272,165, while an average city property increased by 5%, from £372,878 to £393,013.

Looking locally, some coastal areas have seen average asking price growth of over 20% compared to 2019. The areas that saw the sharpest rises were Helensburgh in Dunbartonshire (+27%), Padstow in Cornwall (+24%) and Gourock in Renfrewshire (+21%).

When looking at areas that have seen the biggest increase in prospective buyers searching for a home compared to 2019, often the first sign of increased interest in an area, Dartmouth in Devon tops the list, (+117%), alongside Salcombe (+112%) and Fowey in Cornwall (+111%).

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister said: “Since the start of the year, we’ve tracked the rise in popularity of areas like Cornwall and Devon, where asking prices have steadily risen driven by buyer demand. But what’s really interesting about this research is that it suggests that the initial surge of people enquiring about locations outside of cities has transitioned into a more medium term shift in behaviour.

While this is by no means an end to city life or a mass exodus, it does suggest that many buyers are seeing city and coastal locations both as options to consider, driven by multiple factors that we’ve seen this year – such as demand for space, and the ability to work from home. All of this does mean that in some of the coastal locations that have seen a significant increase in buyers from other locations, there is added competition as people search for their next home.”

Top ten locations by average asking price increase

Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2019 % increase asking price vs 2019
Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire £236,209 £186,290 +27%
Padstow, Cornwall £624,896 £504,905 +24%
Gourock, Renfrewshire £160,147 £132,317 +21%
Hemsby, Norfolk £251,508 £208,281 +21%
Girvan, Ayrshire £125,983 £105,108 +20%
Newquay, Cornwall £302,711 £254,881 +19%
Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire £335,074 £284,837 +18%
Cromer, Norfolk £281,557 £240,155 +17%
Whitby, North Yorkshire £237,422 £202,973 +17%
Rhyl, Denbighshire £145,247 £124,749 +16%


Top ten locations by buyer search increase

Location % increase in buyer searches vs 2019
Dartmouth, Devon +117%
Salcombe, Devon +112%
Fowey, Cornwall +111%
Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire +107%
Morecambe, Lancashire +105%
Tenby, Pembrokeshire +103%
Teignmouth, Devon +98%
Swansea, Wales +95%
Padstow, Cornwall +94%
Swanage, Dorset +93%


  • The coastal locations in the data set were cross referenced with government definitions of coastal locations
  • The average time to find a buyer compares January to May 2021 versus January to May 2019 and is defined as the average number of days from a property being listed on Rightmove until it is marked as under offer or sold subject to contract
  • The demand for coastal and city properties pre and post the pandemic starting compares July 2019 – June 2020 versus July 2020 – June 2021 and is defined as the number of people sending an enquiry to an estate agent about a property
  • Average asking prices for coastal and city locations, compare Jan-May 2021 with Jan-May 2019
  • Buyer searches tracked the biggest increase in buyer searches in seaside locations comparing January to May 2021 versus January to May 2019