Posted 1 July 2010 by Andrew Gardner
In April 2011 the new South Downs National Park will receive its full authority, while 2012 is of course Olympic year. The next couple of years should be an exciting time for Sussex with many visitors expected who will bring valuable income and trade to the county.
To the visitor the opportunity to stay in a charming country cottage or a Sussex converted barn will always have special appeal and demand to stay in such property we expect will increase. Second homeowners who make their properties available for holiday lets are set to benefit nicely. The new National Park will undoubtedly heighten interest in the county and the London Olympics can only benefit with accommodation in and around London being at a premium.
These reasons aside, Sussex has a huge amount to offer. Consider the popularity of the Lake District and Peak District in January and February where people still visit to walk the hills. Our milder climate should equally attract visitors who want to come and walk the Downs all year round.
We must also recognise that Sussex is not just a ‘tick in the box’ county. There are a wealth of visitor attractions along with annual events such as Goodwood, Glyndebourne and Hickstead, together with many festivals, for example Arundel, Brighton and Chichester that provide every reason to encourage visitors to return.
Without overplaying the positives we have to recognise there are concerns over the financial debt which the emergency budget drew stark attention to, however concerns over the Eurozone and volcanic ash disruption may in fact encourage greater numbers to take their holiday at home for peace of mind.
One of the announcements the Conservatives made in opposition was that they would not implement the changes that Labour had announced to the tax treatment of Furnished Holiday Lets. In the end the changes were not implemented prior to the election and following the recent emergency budget it is good news that the existing tax treatment remains giving holiday lets run as a business distinct tax advantages when compared to conventional buy to let arrangements that are considered an investment. A major concern is capital gains tax on property disposal and this is where the rules for furnished holiday lets are more favourable.
This has to be good news in helping to sustain and ultimately build this sector of the market.
Our research reveals that the choice and availability of property in Sussex is less the further north one travels into the county. The South Downs and coastal areas including Chichester Harbour are the most popular with a larger concentration of property in particular around the Witterings and Brighton. By contrast the almost over supply of self catering holiday cottages in areas such as Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District means we have much scope to offer visitors quality holiday properties without risking either over supply or more importantly risking affecting the demographic makeup of the county.
The rental income potential for example on a two bedroom cottage that sleeps four could amount to £17,500 gross per annum where lets over 35 weeks in the year are achieved. Although such returns can never be guaranteed the right property in the right location will present every opportunity to generate the owner an excellent return.
Recognising the opportunities second homeowners have, the challenge is successfully tapping in to this market and marketing their holiday property effectively. Advertising the property on a variety of websites or creating their own is always an option but can result in unnecessary cost as not all websites are targeted at the right audience or will not reach them. In addition there is the time aspect and effort required to handle enquiries and bookings fast and efficiently on top of a normal working life.
Another option is to use a national letting agent who will market the property and who also process the bookings on the owner’s behalf. However this can have drawbacks as they tend to be expensive for the range of services they provide, will most likely tie owners to a contract and tend to restrict owners in their own use of the property.
At Amberley House Cottage Holidays we have sought a solution to enable second homeowners to maximise their opportunities. It is important to offer a service that allows owners who choose to do some of their own marketing the opportunity to have access to effective marketing support that targeted online and offline advertising provides without imposing restrictions and unnecessary costs on them. For those owners who do not have the time or inclination to become involved themselves then to offer them a flexible and competitive marketing and management service is essential. The objective is to always offer a win win situation for the owner.
For the visitor it is important to offer more than merely a listing of property to rent. Local service allows interaction with local businesses and the visitor attractions in order to promote Sussex and provide the visitor with ideas and information in advance of their stay. Encouraging the visitor to return by providing good service and a wealth of local knowledge is crucial, particularly as this is also the service that second homeowners need to know is always being delivered so they too maximise their opportunities.
Yes the opportunities are good and the next couple of years particularly so.