Early bookings this year for self-catering rental properties in the South West were up by almost 70 per cent compared with the same time last year, according to data from the Exeter office of estate agent Knight Frank.

And properties in the region are also being let out for longer. Miles Kevin, head of Knight Frank’s residential development team in the South West, says that existing holiday property owners should be optimistic:

“The number of letting weeks has increased significantly in recent years. Five or six years ago, it typically was around 25 weeks but now it runs for around 32 weeks, driven in part by people opting to take long weekends earlier and later in the year – in the softer climate of Devon and Cornwall, this can be as late as November. The signs suggest that holiday properties will remain in demand as the economy improves.”

Knight Frank has also seen a rise in the number of people considering a second home as a stable, long-term investment. Many holiday home buyers are approaching retirement age and looking for a wise use of equity released from selling the large family property; some relocate to the area and live in their property while they search for a new primary residence. There has also been a rise in the number of buyers who see a second home as a mixture of business and pleasure, planning to use the property themselves for leisure as well as to rent it out.

“Current yields for new-build properties in prime (coastal, or historic town) pockets of the South West are healthier than ever,” says Miles Kevin. “We are seeing some of the schemes we’re selling achieve a yield of up to eight per cent. For example, a two-bedroom flat with a modern interior in Newquay, Cornwall, can command £1,000 or more a week during July and August. However, a less-modernised property might only bring in £650. The holiday letting market looks for quality and will not put up with ‘Granny’s furniture’ any more, so a newly built, well furnished property often better fits the bill.”