Tips for Purchasing a Beach House

By Luke Smith on October, 29 2021
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Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he has been trying his hand at being a freelance writer. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

What could be more relaxing than owning your own beach house? Being able to wake up to softly lapping waves every morning, enjoying vibrant sunsets, and breathing in the fresh air every day sounds pretty idyllic, and it doesn’t have to be just a fantasy.

But, there’s more to owning a beach house than just enjoying the sand and sun. It can be a wonderful investment, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you make an official purchase.

The worst thing you can do when buying a beach house is to fall for its charm and location. There are plenty of mistakes to avoid, so don’t let flashy real estate marketing trick you into something you’re not ready for.

If you’re in the market for a beachfront property or you’ve been considering it, check out a few helpful tips that can boost your confidence in your purchase.

Make Sure It’s Not a Money Pit

When most people think about a beach house, “budget housing” doesn’t exactly come to mind. Waterfront properties are notoriously more expensive than others. For example, the median house price in Delray Bay – a popular Florida beach town – is almost $230,000.

The listing price, however, is only the tip of the iceberg when you’re considering a beach house buy.

You might end up striking a great deal on a beach house, even if it’s a fixer-upper. But, there’s a big difference between a home that needs a little work and a money pit that will drain your bank account. Beach houses often require repairs thanks to their surroundings. Elements like wind, sand, and water can do more damage to homes than other environments. You can DIY some things, but major repairs will often require a licensed contractor.

Unfortunately, it’s not common for home repair fraud to be a big problem in areas like these, where “contractors” are ready to scam individuals who don’t do their research. Red flags include:

  • Contractors who ask for payment upfront
  • Contractors who happen to “be in the neighborhood”
  • Limited deals or offers
  • No contract

Make sure you look into licensed professionals if you know a property needs to be repaired, and ask for a quote upfront so you know how much you would have to spend.

Finally, consider home insurance. Everyone needs it. But, because of the environment of most waterfront properties, insurance rates are often higher. For example, you’ll have to account for things like flood insurance, which isn’t common for most inland homes.

If you’re looking at a house on the ocean, it could be susceptible to heavy storms, and even hurricanes. Plus, sand and wind can cause exterior damage and foundational issues. So, while you definitely want the best home insurance possible, it will also cost you.

Get to Know the Environment

Before you buy a beach house, it’s important to take a look at the area surrounding it. You’ve probably heard the phrase “location, location, location”. It’s something real estate agents live by. While you might think there’s no better “location” than living on the beach, don’t ignore the surrounding area.

Many people want to own a house near the water because it can reduce stress and anxiety. You might think a beach property would be a calm, serene, private oasis.

But, it’s not uncommon for beach communities to be lively and energetic, especially if many of the properties are rental units. If that’s something you’re interested in, you’re in luck. For example, one of the most beautiful beachfront areas in the world – Oahu – offers both calm and beautiful beaches, as well as public transportation, plenty of restaurants, and an energetic nightlife scene.

There isn’t a “perfect” environment for beach houses, since people want different things and experiences. The important thing is understanding what you’re getting into before you make a purchase. Research the surrounding area, learn more about the neighboring communities and decide if the atmosphere surrounding the home is right for you. If it’s not, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a beach house that does fit your needs when it comes to the neighborhood it’s in.

Consider the Practicality

Buying a beach house can seem like a dream. You might see the “for sale” sign out front and want to jump at the opportunity.

But, before you make an offer, consider the practicality of owning a beach house, and if it’s really the right move for you. Do you want to buy it as a place to retire? A second home? Or, are you just looking for a change of scenery? Thinking about the “why” before you buy will help you feel more confident in your decision.

You might also want to consider purchasing the home to rent it out. It’s a great way to offset some of the higher costs of living and even make a nice profit. Before you decide to invest in a waterfront rental property, consider things like:

  • Choosing a multiple-bedroom home (they are more popular for renters)
  • HOA fees and rules
  • Competition rentals
  • Whether it will be a good return on your investment

Renting a beachfront property is a wonderful way to keep it maintained and make some extra money if you don’t want to use it for yourself year-round. But, being a landlord is a lot of work, and many people use rental properties on the beach as an excuse to party – and sometimes, have a little too much fun. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try if you’re interested in investing. However, make yourself aware of everything it entails.

There are pros and cons to consider no matter what kind of property you’re considering. The ones for a beach house are just a bit more unique. If a house is in good shape or needs minimal work, and you’ve always dreamed of waking up to the sunrise over the water, then now could be a perfect time to make that dream come true. Do your research, plan ahead, and allow yourself to have peace of mind with your purchase.