News: Glorious Isle has the Wight stuff

Fri, 13 Jun 08

The second homes market on the Isle of Wight is booming...

It is said that for half the year The Isle of Wight is the smallest county in England, its size relative to land-locked Rutland being determined by the tides. But while it is small, the attractive, diamond-shaped island across the Solent from the crowded south coast offers a hint of rural charm, a contrast to the cityscapes of Southampton and Portsmouth across the sea.

For reasons of both land and sea the island offers good prospects for property investment, according to financial and property services firm Hose Rhodes Dickson. Partner Richard Dickinson said the aquatic aspect was a major attraction, stating: "There is a very broad-based second home market here, predominantly in areas which are yachting towns, such as Cowes, which is a premier yachting town in England."

In addition to this, he noted, Ventnor had "glorious" sea views, while East Cowes had recently seen a 500-home development and a new marina.Second homes, he noted, were now one of the main features of investing on the island, displacing retirement buying which was more of a 1960s and 70s trend. "It's almost like role reversal, people now base themselves here, but have a second home in London", he noted.

Property prices immune to the credit crunch

While getting across the Solent and up to the capital took up less time and money than doing so from Devon, Mr Dickinson suggested, the good news was that the recent falls in London property prices, such as the 0.6 per cent fall in October recorded this week by the Land Registry, would not happen on the island. "The Isle of Wight prices are likely to hold better than in many parts of the country," he commented.

The Isle of Wight has certainly had a history of buyers from the mainland, with the royal seal of approval coming when Queen Victoria built her Osborne House residence in East Cowes, the monarch spending her very last days there. While the island does not claim to have a Victorian feel, Mr Dickinson did suggest it had "the feel of England ten years ago" about it.

As one of the sunniest places in the UK, the island will always have a certain appeal, perhaps the same now as the one Queen Victoria came for: a chance to get away from the city, isolated by water from mainland England and yet still very close. If it can isolate itself from any price falls in the housing market too, as Mr Dickinson suggests, it could enjoy a right royal appeal in years to come.

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