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Many people dream of owning a second home in the countryside or by the sea. But are these holiday retreats causing more harm than good?

Countryfile second homes featureIn Sunday’s episode of Countryfile, presenter Charlotte Smith explored the impact of second homes on rural and coastal communities. The reporting was well researched and balanced in our opinion. Have a look for yourself on BBC iPlayer here, the coverage starts at 8 minutes 10 seconds into the programme. This link is only available until September 28th 2014, further to which we have summarised some of the areas covered below.

The impact of second homes

An Englishman’s home is his castle, or so the saying goes and for some, investing in a second home gives you the best of both worlds. Whether a house in the country or a bolthole by the sea, the appeal can be better quality of life, a second income or both. For that reason it’s an idea that many Britons have bought into; 1.5 million people now own a second home in the UK with the number one choice of location, you guessed it, Cornwall with its stunning coastline and picture postcard fishing villages.

In some of the most sort after areas two in five properties are now holiday homes.

While their owners have clearly fallen in love with Cornwall the feeling of the local residents is not always mutual.

Do second homes play a vital role in supporting the local economy?

This episode of Countryfile considers two points of view:

The first takes into account the views of a local family, who cannot see their way back onto the housing market as second homeowners send valuations  skyward.

The second focuses on a Padstow based fisherman, who sees strong demand for his catch and directly attributes this success to local restaurants increasingly filled by the owners of holiday homes and their guests.

This isn’t just about Cornwall either; from Yorkshire to the South Coast, and the Cotswold’s to the Western Isles, there are serious concerns about second homes, despite playing a vital role for some businesses and the local economy.

Communities need tourism to survive.

In Cornwall alone it’s an industry worth £1.8 billion. Expand that across the UK and tourism brings in well over £100 billion a year.

Despite the obvious benefits to businesses, many feel the advantages of second homes are simply not worth the sacrifices they create. Some believe second homes cast a shadow over some of the most beautiful areas of the UK. Demand raises house prices and many who live and work in these areas can no longer afford to stay. On the flip side of the coin others will say that without the money second homes bring them, local economies wouldn’t survive.

Holiday homes employ an army of people, plumbers, housekeepers, gardeners, decorators, holiday letting agents, all these people rely on the work that second homes bring their way!

As an insurance intermediary based in beautiful North Devon, we have driven the growth of our own business by meeting the insurance needs of second home owners who holiday let their rural and coastal properties to paying guests. Whilst we developed our holiday home insurance offering in Devon and Cornwall we now service the holiday home insurance needs of owners who both live and own second homes across the whole of the UK.

A typical second home for which we provide insurance will be let to paying guest for in excess of 30 weeks of the year and also used by their owners for 4 to 6 weeks, sometimes more. No one, least ourselves like to see rural and coastal homes empty for long periods of time, if you own a second home that is not already holiday let, speak to your local holiday letting agent to see if your property is suitable.

For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business or if you recommendations of holiday letting agents in your area, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

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