When the Dixon family moved from Epsom, Surrey to Poole on the south Dorset coast last month, their boat was in the driveway before their furniture was in the house. The sailing-loving family bought a five-bedroom home in the Parkstone area, just a 15-minute bike ride from the yacht club in the harbor.
“Covid made us move here earlier than we thought,” says Katie Dixon, who works in the City of London. As a child, Dixon vacationed on Sandbanks, a nearby peninsula that has been home to some of the UK’s most eye-catching real estate outside of London for the past few decades.
But that wasn’t an option for the Dixons. âGiven the school hours and accessibility to train stations, it wouldn’t be a practical place to live full-time. We have the beach on our doorstep anyway. “
Sandbanks is often a point of contact that draws people to the area west of Bournemouth. Lined with large waterfront homes that give way to a sandy beach, it’s closest to Floridaâs Palm Beach, albeit on a much smaller scale and devoid of the tropical climate.
Property on sandbanks has attracted a premium for many years that has convinced some to look beyond the peninsula to other areas around the harbor. According to Savills Research, the average house price in Sandbanks in 2020 was Â£ 1,180,247, but you’ll pay at least Â£ 3.5m for a waterfront home.
Sean Gibson, Head of Residential at the local Savills branch, says, âSandbanks is the name that drives shoppers to the area, but when you walk around here, you see what the other areas have to offer. In addition, not everyone has the budget for this dramatic setting on the water. “
The area immediately north of the peninsula that offers easy port access and cheaper housing is Lilliput. Prices in zip code BH14 8 – which also includes Lilliput and adjacent Whitecliff – have been rising steadily since 2013, rising faster than neighboring BH13 7 (Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs, the affluent area in the northeast of the peninsula).
Over the past five years, the average price in Lilliput has increased 20 percent – from Â£ 556,540 to Â£ 666,550 – based on land registry data, according to the Hamptons, while in BH13 7 it has decreased -2 ââpercent, from Â£ 973,970 to Â£ 956,640. Both areas are considerably more expensive than the industrial port areas closer to Poole, where the average price is Â£ 278,230 (BH15 1).
Lilliput looks out over the water – the flat-edged harbor is full of surfers and windsurfers on a windy day – on Brownsea Island, the largest island in the harbor owned by the National Trust. Many homes are a short walk from two marinas. On one of them, Salterns Marina, an old hotel is being demolished to make way for a new boutique hotel and 65 apartments. The project is expected to be completed by 2023.
Schools and sailing are big drivers for families, says Gibson. Aside from providing the easiest access to yacht clubs, the main attractions are the independent Bournemouth Collegiate School (which the two Dixon children enrolled in) and the highly rated Ofsted Lilliput Infant School.
“Last week I had 14 visits to an obsolete three-bedroom chalet bungalow for Â£ 699,950 that ended up being sold for Â£ 30,000 above asking price,” he says.
Much of the new demand is coming from families relocating from the greater London area, but Lilliput has long been attracting downsizers and empty nests, with the nearby Parkstone Golf Club, Mark Bennett’s award-winning patisserie and a branch of John Lewis.
Business mentor Max Wright thought it was the ideal half-retirement place to play tennis and discover boating. Eight years ago he and his wife moved from Surrey to a five bedroom house. âWe realized we could get the kind of house we wanted for Â£ 150,000 to Â£ 200,000 less than it would cost in Canford Cliffs,â he says.
âWe love the cafes and community feel of Lilliput, but we also like to be within walking distance of Rick Stein’s Restaurant and Jazz CafÃ© [on Sandbanks] – A walk through the harbor is a great tour. “
Having never sailed before, the couple joined the shared ownership program at The Boat Club in the Parkstone Bay Marina, where members borrow one of the fleet’s cruisers or Zodiacs without worrying about sole ownership.
âOne of our favorites is to leave the harbor along the Jurassic Coast towards Studland, past Old Harry Rocks [chalk stacks on the tip of the coastline] – a 2.5 hour drive. âA boat for lunch at The Hut – a popular beachfront restaurant in Colwell Bay on the Isle of Wight – is another.
The appetite for boats is so great that one of the region’s new programs, The harbor, is offering buyers of the nine new waterfront apartments in the Evening Hill area of ââLilliput the use of a 7m Sealegs RIB, paddle boards and kayaks. Named by locals who consider it the perfect place to watch the sun set over the harbor towards the Purbeck Hills, it is the closest part of Lilliput to the Sandbanks.
Three-bedroom apartments in The Harbor range from Â£ 1.495 million to Â£ 2.795 million, and three of the nine have been reserved before they are even completed in 2022, says Ashley Faull of Waterfall Developments. âPlaces with great views, access to the water and very fast WiFi are currently in demand,â he says.
Adrian Dunford of local real estate agent Tailor Made, who sold the properties, says this project and another new waterfront development in Evening Hill called Infinity – a block of nine apartments, eight of which have been sold off-plan since June 2020 – successful values ââwere higher than two years ago. âIn 2019, 1,100 to 1,200 pounds per square foot was typical. These were selling for Â£ 1,500 to Â£ 1,600 per square foot. “
Downsizer Bettina Gould was looking inland for more bang for her buck and a garden when she moved from Stanmore in northwest London three months ago. She and her husband Keith bought a two-bedroom apartment in Parkstone (BH14 9), where the median sales price last year was Â£ 465,320, according to the Hamptons.
Easy access to the rail lines to London for their two day city work was crucial. âMy family had a vacation rental on Sandbanks, so I’ve always loved the area,â says Bettina, 53. âWe wanted a less hectic life and Covid made us think – why wait? I like to go on boat trips to the small islands in the harbor. “
She also considered Canford Cliffs, but the prices were higher. Perched high above the beach, this area offers an alternative to sandbanks for those looking for more privacy and tranquility, with the Canford Cliffs “village” – as the locals call it – a center of restaurants and amenities at heart.
Branksome Park is part of the Canford Cliffs known for its large lots divided by tall Monterey pines. Former football manager Harry Redknapp is among those who recently moved there from Sandbanks (last year he was filming an ITV series, Harry Redknapps Sandbanks summer, with his former house on the peninsula).
“If you have an acre of yard and don’t want to see your neighbors, Canford Cliffs is a better choice,” says architect Mark Robinson, who adds that the angular and glassy nature of sandbank properties requires some tactical design features like walls and ha -Has to control the view.
Ben Horne of buying agent Middleton Advisors agrees that Sandbanks doesn’t suit everyone. âI have four clients who are looking for a house on the south coast but have excluded Sandbanks due to a lack of privacy. In addition, there are long queues in the summer for the car chain ferry from the tip of the peninsula to Studland, which blocks people’s entrances. “
Adrian Dunford says the sandbank market is far from dead and many of the recent sales are not on the land register because they are second homes owned by a limited company. The agency sold 112 properties on Sandbanks between May 2020 [when the market opened up] and June 2021, compared to 39 apartments for all of 2019.
âTo have this unique view and step onto a beach that is yours only 85 percent of the year [when tourists are absent] will never go out of style. “He says an English cash buyer bought a property for Â£ 4.6million last month and was in such a hurry that he exchanged and was done within 48 hours, with no survey or search.
It seems that rising sea levels may not have been a priority for this buyer. Katie Dixon saw it differently: “Another reason I didn’t want to buy on sandbanks was because I feared that if the water went up, prices could go down.”
Poole Harbor is one of the largest natural harbors in the world, with ferries to Cherbourg and St. Malo in France (4.5 hours) and the Channel Islands. London is a 2.5 hour journey or a 2 hour direct train that also stops at Parkstone, Branksome and Bournemouth.
The average price reached at Sandbanks from January to April 2021, according to Hamptons data, was Â£ 956,640; at Whitecliff & Lilliput it was Â£ 666,550.
The 2021/22 council tax for BCP Council (Bournemouth / Christchurch / Poole) on a property in Volume D is Â£ 1,877 per year.
What you can buy for. . .
Â£ 1.65m A modern four bedroom home on Evening Hill. The architect-designed home is less than 1.4 km from Sandbanks Beach and 270 meters from Poole Harbor. Features include a cinema room and curved glazing to the master bedroom and living room. For sale with Tailor-made.
Â£ 5.695m A three story, four bedroom waterfront home on Pearce Avenue, Lilliput. The property overlooks Poole Harbor and Brownsea Island. The facilities include a jacuzzi and access via the south-west facing garden to a private jetty, a slipway and a boat shed. Available through Lloyds Property Group.
Â£ 10 million A three story, six bedroom waterfront home on Panorama Road, Sandbanks. The main house has 873 mÂ² of living space including a library, media room, fitness room, changing rooms and indoor swimming pool. The property has a separate three bedroom lodge. In the market with Fein & Land.