Guide to buying a second home in Cornwall

Going back to your Cornish roots?

Over the years, we have found that a number of our property clients looking at buying a second home in Cornwall, actually originally come from Cornwall, or have family connections to the county. 

Often, they have moved away to study or to work and settled in other parts of the country, but later in life want to buy a second home in Cornwall as a way of keeping in touch with their Cornish roots.  Others are doing it with a view to return home full time eventually. Perhaps when they are able to retire. In the meantime, they plan to use their second home to visit family more frequently.

The advantages of some local knowledge

Many of these clients have chosen to seek out a local firm after discovering that buying a property in Cornwall can throw up some quirky issues which solicitors outside of the county are often unfamiliar with. 

If you live in Cornwall, you’ll have heard all sorts of horror stories about back gardens suddenly disappearing down mineshafts, radon gas levels being off the scale in certain types of old properties, coastal erosion issues, as well as other complications arising from issues concerning mineral rights, footpaths / rights of way and so on.  

Therefore, choosing a firm based in Cornwall with detailed knowledge of the local area, can avoid unnecessary stress in the future by highlighting any problems on these fronts at an early stage.

7 things to consider when buying a second home in Cornwall

Samantha Bellamy, Head of Property at Penderlaw Solicitors, outlines some key considerations to be aware of when buying a second home in Cornwall.

1.You may need a different type of mortgage

Unless you are fortunate enough to be able to buy outright, you will need to obtain a mortgage.  If the property is just to be used by you and your family and friends, you will probably just need a standard residential mortgage, but if you are intending to let the property, you will need a need a holiday let mortgage, or a buy to let mortgage.   The rates for these tend to be higher than for a standard mortgage.

2.Your deposit will be larger than for your main home

A mortgage to buy a second home will usually require a more sizable deposit compared to a standard mortgage. Generally, this will be around 15% if you are not letting the property, but if it is a buy to let mortgage, the deposit is likely to be around 25%.

3.Stamp duty will be higher

The amount required for stamp duty on a second home is also higher, it typically works out as around 3%.  On a main home, the first £125k does not attract stamp duty, but this does not apply to second homes.

4.Considering affordability

Responsible lenders will certainly run the tape over your finances and scrutinise whether you can actually afford to buy a second home.  They will look at how much equity you have in your main home, and any existing mortgage payments for that, plus your other outgoings, including any other loans you may have, to give them a full picture of your finances.

A good way to assess the affordability yourself is to use one of the second home mortgage calculators which are available on many bank and building society websites.

5.Other taxes which will be applicable (including changes to Council tax)

As well as stamp duty, other taxes to be aware of when buying a second home include income tax on the profit you receive from the property if you let it, council tax and capital gains tax which may apply if you choose to sell it. 

Cornwall Council has recently agreed to charge an additional 100% Council Tax premium on second homes from 1 April 2025. The Cornwall Council website currently states that they will provide more information about this premium when the government provides them with further guidance.  They also mention that this will include information about second homes which may be exempt from the premium.

6.Cornwall Council planning changes to be aware of affecting short term lets

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, recently announced new government measures intended to regulate holiday properties and restrict the number of short term lets in Cornwall. The plan is to give councils greater power to control short term lets by making these subject to the planning process. This would be done by the creation of a new planning “use class” created for short term lets which are not used as a sole of main home. 

7.Maintenance & insurance costs

One you have actually bought your second home, there is the issue of how to keep it in good order. Some people decide to employ a local property management company if their main home is quite a distance away, but this will obviously incur additional cost. Home insurance will also need to be budgeted for. You may need a specific second home insurance policy to cover the increased risk of leaving your home unoccupied for long periods of time, or for having paid tenants in the property if you rent it out.

A family home in Cornwall for the future

The effort and financial commitment required to buy a second home is significant and might seem onerous, but if you are fortunate enough to have the resources to be able to buy a second home in Cornwall, perhaps enabling you to reconnect with your roots, there are few people who would say they regret it, especially with the track record of house prices within the county.

It is also hopefully a secure and tangible asset to pass onto your children and maintain your family’s links with this wonderful county. 

Who knows, with the digital age firmly upon us, and vastly improved connectivity here in Cornwall nowadays, perhaps your family will be able to return, and make your long-term investment in the country their main home one day.

Get in touch
If you are considering buying a second home in Cornwall and would like to discuss this, our friendly and experienced team at Penderlaw Solicitors would be delighted to hear from you.  Call us on 01872 241408 or email