“Around mid and late summer last year, there was an enormous increase in the prices achieved by the Aldwick beach huts. They virtually doubled in price.”
Those were the words of Bob May, an estate agent with 50 years’ experience and the managing director of Mays Estate Agents, in Felpham Road.
In all 92 beach huts in the district – 60 in Littlehampton and 32 in Felpham - are held on lease from Arun District Council and, although the price hike is largely related to rising fears around foreign travel restrictions, it is complicated by changes to the lease conditions, effective April 1 2022.
“As a result of the new lease, there’s been a flurry of activity,” Mr May said.
“With ten huts going up for sale as owners try to get them sold under the old lease.
“The reason for that is, under the old terms, the council charge £500 to assign the lease.
“Under the new terms, you can’t sell the beach huts to anyone outside of Arun district, but, more importantly they charge you either 6 times the current annual ground rent or 20 per cent of the sales price, whichever is greater, and that’s without solicitor’s fees or an agent’s commission.”
That all adds up quickly, and might make the already expensive prospect of buying a beach hut seem even more intimidating later down the line, not least because buying one now means buying a beach hut on just three months lease.
It stands testament to their enduring popularity, then, that many of them have already sold.
“Of those ten beach huts, one of which sold to the first person who viewed it, I think we’ve got three available left,” Mr May explained. “The others have all sold.”
Maybe that popularity comes down to the fact that, according to Mr May, buyers aren’t just looking to make an investment.
They want something for personal use.
“There has been a big demand, because people are saying ‘well, we might not be going abroad anytime in the near future, so we’ll invest in a beach hut.’
“I think people buy them for personal and family use because there’s lots of talk of grandchildren and family.”
To top it all off, their popularity is set to continue. Though he admits the signs are sometimes difficult to read, Mr May says all the signs thus far suggests interest will endure as the months wear on.
“It’s not like retail where you’ve got a steady supply of goods. It depends on how many beach huts we get.
“Last year, we sold, I think four huts in Aldwick, of which every one fetched over the anticipated asking price because there was just so much demand.”