THE prices of Britain's most expensive beach huts are on course to break through the £400,000 barrier due to the huge demand for them by rich staycationers.

The wooden cabins at Mudeford in Christchurch have always commanded premium prices but they are now selling for more than people pay for a four bedroom house in many parts of the country.

This week a hut went on the market for an asking price of £355,000.

Bournemouth Echo: The beach hut for sale at Mudeford Sandspit. Picture: MaxWillcock/BNPSThe beach hut for sale at Mudeford Sandspit. Picture: MaxWillcock/BNPS

Just two weeks ago one sold within hours of being listed for £350,000. It is thought the final sale price was well above this figure due to the amount of potential buyers vying for it.

There are about 360 huts on the Mudeford sandbank that is so remote it requires a 20 minute walk to get to, a ride on a land train or a short ferry ride across Christchurch Harbour.

The huts have no running water, mains electricity or toilets and washing facilities are in a communal shower block.

Yet the prices for the highly desirable holiday boltholes have rapidly increased over the past 20 years due to demand far outstripping supply.

And since the start of the pandemic last year that demand has surged to a new high.

Tim Baber is a former owner of a beach hut at Mudeford. His family cashed in on theirs in 2002 when it sold for £120,000.

The 65-year-old said: "When we sold ours I didn't think the prices would go any higher but I was quickly proved wrong.

"Most people who are going to sell their huts have sold out by now and so you don't get that many that come back on the market.

"When one does become available I would guess that the estate agent has between 15 to 20 names on a waiting list and so the sale becomes something of a telephone auction with the richest person outbidding all the others.

"When we sold ours we just said we would sell it to the first person to come up with £120,000. We weren't interest in gazumping.

"At the time I couldn't explain why the huts were so valuable but in a lot of cases they are bought by people who work in the City spending their big bonuses. We sold ours to a guy from London who was a BBC mananger."

Bournemouth Echo: The beach huts at Mudeford Sandspit. Picture: BNPSThe beach huts at Mudeford Sandspit. Picture: BNPS

The huts can be slept in from April to October and they generally sleep up to six people, with four mattresses on a mezzanine level in the roof and the seating areas downstairs doubling as extra beds.

Buyers are attracted to the spit's remote location as cars are banned.

Because it is not possible to secure a mortgage for the beach huts, would-be owners have to be cash buyers. They also have to stump up about £4,500 a year to the local council in fees.

In 2002 the humble huts were selling for £73,000 but by the following year, one broke the six-figure mark for the first time, selling for £100,000.

By 2005 they were up to £135,000, but following the credit crunch in 2008 they dropped back to just £90,000.

This drop didn't last long though and by January 2012 a hut was on the market for £145,000 and just six months later one sold for £170,000.

In July 2014 one was up for £225,000 and a few weeks later another went on for £270,000.

By January 2018 a hut had sold for £295,000 and another hit the £300,000 mark in March that year.

Last year there was a bidding war over a hut that sold for £325,000.

Bournemouth Echo: A view nearby the beach hut. Picture: MaxWillcock/BNPS A view nearby the beach hut. Picture: MaxWillcock/BNPS

Mudeford beach hut owner Stephen Bath, former managing director of Bath Travel, said the high prices could be explained by the limited number available and the secluded, idyllic location.

He said: "There have only been about 10 huts added to the spit in 60 years so it is a question of supply, compared to Bournemouth where there are 1,500 huts and Brighton where there are 2,000.

"These are enormous huts with amenities which you can live in for eight months of the year and it is a beautiful, peaceful location with the sea on one side and the harbour on another.

"You feel like you are on a little island.

"Obviously, the uncertainty over foreign travel will also help drive up prices with people growing fed up of government regulations."