Buying a house in Cornwall

“Don’t hit the estate agents until you’ve read this.”

Hurrah! You’ve decided to make the big move but how do you actually go about buying a house in Cornwall when you don’t live here (yet)?

We asked one of our Little Black Book businesses, Falmouth-based Property Search Agent Jayne Baker, of Live Beside The Sea to help us pull together some of her top tips on moving to Cornwall, in particular addressing the top end of the market, those elusive £1 million plus properties.

Did you know that only 1 in 4 of these gorgeous gems reach the open market, with the rest snapped up before the pics even hit Rightmove.

Get yourself into a proceedable position, quickly

First things first, get your (current) house in order, literally.

No vendor or estate agent is going to take you seriously unless you’ve cash ready to go, a mortgage offer or if you need to sell your existing property to buy the new place, a sale agreed.

This means getting your house market ready by looking at it with buyer’s eyes. Imagine your house on the property portals and estate agents’ details, you will be shocked what you see! Be your own house doctor, go from room to room with a clipboard make notes or take photos. If in doubt chuck it out.

  • Kitchens are key, clear out of date jars and tins, thoroughly clean and paint units if necessary.
  • Bathrooms think boutique hotel, matching towels and hideaway all your products unless they coordinate, if necessary, purchase new.
  • Living areas – put away your family photos and knick knacks, make good the walls.
  • Bedrooms fresh coordinating linens and declutter.
  • Lofts and garages; what can I say? Chuck or charity shop.
  • Outside needs kerb appeal, so paint the front door, make front gardens look appealing and keep the grass in the back garden cut and beds weeded.

Be clear on what you want (and what you can afford)

Research online what it is likely to cost you and make sure you’ve included moving costs in your budget. This will take up a lot of your precious time, particularly if you don’t know the county well and are busy with work and family life.

If you need to travel for work, consider roads and transport links, like proximity to the A30, airport or train stations. You’re also likely to get more visitors if you are easier to reach!

Are you buying a holiday house or a home?

This is particularly important if you’re moving permanently rather than just adding a holiday home. You need to make sure the area is right for you. Check out our insider guides, particularly our Top Places to Live in 2020 and start working out what areas you can afford, and what areas you like.

Think about what kind of property you’d like to live in and how that fits your budget. Remember that listed buildings or quirky countryside properties with things like a thatched roof add complications (and costs) – and are also not as two-a-penny in Cornwall as they are in other areas of the countryside, so you often have to move more quickly.

Imagining yourself living down here – what do you really need?

What is life in Cornwall really like? There’s the sea, the landscape, the laidback lifestyle but can doing real life in Cornwall ever live up to the dream?

What do you see out of your window? What will you be doing at the weekends? Will you be working and how far are you travelling? What schools are your children going to and do they walk or do your drive them there? If you are retiring, what hobbies are you taking up? Do you think you want visitors staying with you, and if so, does that impact on number of rooms? It is a great idea to start a vision board to help you stay focused.

Think about your connections – does this influence location?

Most people who want to move to Cornwall or buy a holiday home here have some sort of connection. They have often come here on holiday as children and feel the magical pull, feeling a strong desire to be here. Some people were brought up here and then moved away for University and work. They now have families of their own and want their children to have the magical upbringing that they had. Or people want to retire – and where better than Cornwall with its rugged coastal paths, great beaches and delicious eateries.

And can you do it all year?

It’s very different living full time in an old cottage than it is spending a few weeks here and there. Is there actually enough space for all the things you do day in, day out. Winters in Cornwall can be very wet and over the past few years we’ve also seen a fair few dustings of snow.

Remote old farms to do up seem idyllic in summer but aren’t quite the same in winter, particularly if you need to do the school run or commute to the office, and the nearest shop for a pint of milk may be a drive away.

Remember the estate agent’s duty of care is to the seller – not you!

Any decent agent will be portraying their houses in the best possible light and rightly so. However, this can lead to disappointment when you drive all the way down to Cornwall only to find the house and location is not as it seemed. Not to mention the difficulty in trying to coordinate your diary to view 6 properties with 6 different agents and 6 owners with their diaries to consider.

Engage a local property search agent

Buying agents are working for you so are on your side, and can guide you through the minefield of relocating to Cornwall. Relocation experts were considered a luxury years ago, but nowadays they are almost an essential, particularly in the high end market.
Live Beside the Sea are sometimes approached by private sellers before they contact the estate agents. Estate agents sometimes get in contact with property search agents before the properties are fully listed, so Jayne gets ‘early doors’. This means that properties are often launched onto the market as sale agreed.


Find out about Cornwall’s hidden gems that don’t hit Rightmove

Long before they became the norm due to Covid, Live Beside the Sea’s comprehensive viewing reports also include property videos – the crucial difference is they are filmed with your remit in mind – they are not trying to sell the property.

Live Beside the Sea will film and report on any negative issues with regard to the property, the neighbours and the surrounding areas. This saves her clients an enormous amount of time and money, making expensive trips down to Cornwall, that often ends in disappointment.

Recently we went to see a beautiful vicarage, renovated to a very high standard set with private grounds close to the sea. Our property video has gone off to our clients which they can watch whilst having a cup of tea, before they make the long journey down from London.

Congratulations, your offer is accepted! What next?

Live Beside the Sea looks after you right through until completion and beyond. This includes any hand holding required, liaising with estate agents and solicitors, and can also include recommending property professionals including surveyors, architects, interior and garden services plus trades people.

If you’re buying from out of county, it can be harder to find well reputed property professionals as you’re having to do everything at a distance, so we can make recommendations and ensure someone can be at hand.

Live Beside the Sea finds special homes for especially busy people and business founder Jayne relocated herself down to Cornwall nearly 40 years ago. She had been an estate agent in the county for many years and spotted a gap in the market several years ago. She felt that buyers needed to be supported, and she has helped numerous clients relocate with ease. /