A SUCCESSFUL businesswoman has shared her experience of buying a second home in Ramsgate only to be met with backlash from locals.
Julia Champion, 54, from Sydenham, London, is a proud second homeowner. In April 2023 she bought a £330,000 – down from £350,000 – second home on the Kent coast which she rents out to family, friends and holidaymakers.
She spoke exclusively to Fabulous in defence of second homeowners.
Julia, who runs her own talent agency and works in PR, said her “business was going well” in 2022, and thought “what better way to invest than in a holiday let” which she could also enjoy.
She explained: “The house I bought in spring last year was in hot demand – there was a queue of potential buyers waiting to view it.
“It was the first house I viewed and, despite its shabby and dated appearance, I knew immediately that it had potential.
“So, I paid around £20,000 to have it renovated, redecorated and furnished and put it onto the lettings market with a local holiday lettings agency in October last year.
“So far, it’s been renting really well for at least two/three weekends a month and I’ve had several five star reviews, both from holidaymakers and people working in the area.”
Speaking about the financial move, Julia added: “I never intended to become a landlady but, the way I see it, I’ve provided a lovely place for people to stay and I’ve created a huge amount of employment for local people and the local pubs, bars, restaurants and shops have benefited from my custom and that of my friends, family and renters.
“I’m married with teenage children, but this is my little project and I love having it as a side hustle and having free rein to do what I want with it.
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“My husband teases me that it’s like I have a grown-up dolls’ house to play with.
"I didn’t intend to rent it out as a long-term let as it brings me so much joy to use it myself and to let my friends and family use it too.
“If I ever had to sell it, I’m sure it must have gone up at least £50,000 in value, but I hope that never happens.”
Julia revealed how no one had criticised her to her face but she experienced a backlash when she revealed she was a second homeowner on a Facebook group.
“When I first bought the house, I joined a local Facebook group," she said.
"I put a post up saying, ‘I’ve bought a holiday house in Ramsgate and I’m looking for local tradespeople – I need a painter and decorator, a gardener, a tiler, plumbers and electricians etc.’
“Within minutes I got a barrage of abuse from people saying things like, ‘Perhaps you’d like to house the homeless in your SECOND home’ and Don’t you know there’s a cost of living crisis going on?’”
Julia believes that admitting to buying a second home in Ramsgate made her a target of cowboy builders too. She explained how she received a message from a “complete cowboy” tradesperson who offered to take on the DIY work.
She said: “He said he was a tiler but could turn his hand to anything or knew other tradesmen who could help him.
“I needed someone quickly and his website looked okay and I was a bit shocked when I met him to give him the keys as he was only in his twenties, but my mum was dying at the time, so I had to trust him to get on with the work and Whatsapp me how much I owed him at the end of each week.
“When I finally had a chance to drive to Ramsgate, [there was] rubble and carnage everywhere [inside] – wires hanging out of the wall now kitchen or bathroom and paint spills and dirt and spliff butts strewn all over the floors so I had to get all the carpets and flooring replaced.
“I managed to get the £13,500 I had paid him for labour and materials back from my bank as he’d clearly been ripping me off and lying to me for weeks.”
Despite the initial disaster building work, Julia has managed to make her house a home and recently “cleaned, gardened and added the finishing touches”.
She said she “scoured the local vintage and charity shops” and visited “the brilliant Petticoat Lane flea market in Ramsgate and bought a gorgeous rug and some pieces of furniture, mirrors and ornaments”, as well as ordering “some luxurious cushions, feather pillows and bits and pieces online”.
As for how much money Julia is making from her second home, she said: “I haven’t really started making a profit yet as I’ve had to pay for all the improvements, but it only has to rent out for about four nights a month to pay my mortgage.
“There’s obviously bills including wifi, council tax, water, gas and electricity on top of this though.”
She's not the only one who has faced a backlash from locals for buying in seaside resorts.
Dr Rebecca Tidy told Fabulous about the backlash she received from Cornish locals after she bought another property in the local area.
Rebecca invested in a holiday home near picturesque St Mawes during 2020 and she bought it as a "long-term investment" which she now "rents to tourists as a holiday let".
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She explained: "The profits help cover the big mortgage on my main home in London."
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