Best-value areas for holiday homes

Post-recession prices are making holiday homes a good investment if you know where to look
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The harbour at Mousehole
£269,950: a cosy two-bedroom cottage on the harbourside at Mousehole, Cornwall, with views out to sea (01736 360203)
The holiday home market is on the up. Sales in the most popular UK destinations - Cornwall, Devon and north Norfolk - are seeing a surge in buyers fed up with poor savings rates and who are looking for good buys at lower, recession-squeezed prices. However, the most painfully fashionable second-home hotspots remain painfully expensive.

Smart buyers searching this summer should ignore the highly priced and over-hyped destinations and cast their nets a little wider. We asked Savills researchers for the best-value areas in which to buy. They identified three key second-home choices, all picturesque, with lovely period property, and set in glorious country with the sea nearby.

Marcus Dixon, who led the research, says: "You will probably sacrifice high-end location facilites, such as London-esque cafés and Michelin star restaurants. But the locations we've chosen are quieter and quintessentially seaside."

Landmark historic Victorian property close to Cromer Pier
£368,000: landmark historic Victorian property close to Cromer Pier, offering two floors for retail and three floors of excellent accommodation (01263 822 488)

Give up Cley next the sea, Norfolk, and head for Cromer

Average house price: £196,000 in Cromer; £329,000 in Cley.
Average detached house: £266,000 in Cromer; £391,000 in Cley.
Journey time from London: three hours (Cromer). Cley owners must go to Sheringham, seven miles away, and then travel three hours and 15 minutes to London by train.
Ten-year price growth: 170 per cent in Cromer; 125 per cent in Cley. Cromer has its own station, making easy after-work escapes. It is a pretty town, ideal for second-home owners with interesting shops, good restaurants, a theatre, a cinema - and a sandy beach.

Cromer still has a busy fishing industry - crab and lobster can be bought fresh from the foot of the gangway - and the town has been tidied without spoiling its simple charm.

Caroline Lake, of Watsons estate agents, says two- to three-bedroom flats in a converted Victorian terrace are around £160,000, a terraced cottage (two bedrooms) is about £150,000. The top of the market is probably Brunswick Terrace, with its terrific sea views. A four-bedroom house here would cost £300,000.

"It's gorgeous. People come here because it is like going back in time. Second-home owners only go to Cley out of snobbery. They have to get over it," says Caroline.

Hanley Cottage in East Prawle, Devon.
£395,000: three-bedroom Hanley Cottage is beside the village green at East Prawle, Devon, with views over open countryside to the sea (01548 857588)

Seek out East Prawle and pass Salcombe by

Average house price: £382,000 in East Prawle; £626,000 in Salcombe.
Average detached house: £490,000 in East Prawle; £902,000 in Salcombe.
Journey time from London: nearest station for both is Totnes, five hours from London.
Ten-year price growth: 156 per cent in East Prawle; 215 per cent in Salcombe. You would be forgiven for never having heard of tiny East Prawle, which is probably the reason singer Kate Bush and broadcaster Jennie Bond have holiday homes nearby.

The focal point of life is its really great pub, the Pig's Nose, and it's a short walk to Prawle Point, a lovely headland (and the most southerly tip of Devon) - loved by birdlovers and walkers. East Prawle is less than three miles from Salcombe but pretty much half the price and the same journey time to London.

Mark Head, of Charles Head & Son estate agents, says a coastguard's cottage is about £250,000, and a two-bedroom chocolate-box cottage about £300,000. A big family house with grounds is about £900,000.

How Mousehole beats posh Rock in Cornwall

Average house price: £261,000 in Mousehole; £486,000 in Rock.
Average detached house: £306,000 in Mousehole; £621,000 in Rock.
Journey time from London: Mousehole is 2.5 miles from Penzance, which is five hours by train from London; Rock is a short ferry ride from Padstow, which is also five hours from London. You could also fly from Gatwick to Newquay, which is about 22 miles away.
Ten-year price growth: 148 per cent in Mousehole; 283 per cent in Rock. Rock is private school heaven. It is where the kids come to celebrate the end of their exams with a vat load of alcopops. Why it is so popular, with London prices, is hard to fathom.

Gwillan Dream Raginnis, Mousehole, Cornwall
£795,000: Gwillan Drea, Raginnis, Mousehole, Cornwall, is a large four-bedroom house with a big garden and views of Mounts Bay, Penzance (01872 243 200)
Mousehole is a less well-known but much prettier fishing village ranged around a natural bay. Its lower profile means, thank God, there is less nightlife, but there is a trio of great restaurants - The Courtyard Hotel, Fore Street and The Cornish Range.

The Ship Inn is a lovely pub, and visitors at Christmas can enjoy Mousehole's traditionally spectacular fundraising illuminations and sample a slice of stargazy pie - if they can bear the sight of fish heads protruding through pastry.

David Marshall, director of Marshalls estate agents, said that a two-bedroom granite cottage in Mousehole, dating from the 15th century, is around £200,000 without a sea view. If you want waves, then be prepared to pay up to £350,000.

Larger, more modern Sixties and Seventies homes cost £500,000-plus for five bedrooms. A detached period house on Raginnis Hill, Mousehole's smartest road, with four or five bedrooms and amazing views, will be up to £1 million.

Marshall says Mousehole is for middle-class families who love the traditional village atmosphere. It is a place to eat, drink, hang out on the beach and enjoy the wonderful views as you walk the coastal path to nearby Lamorna.

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