Who doesn’t dream of oceanfront property? Maybe you long for a second home where you and your family can escape. Or perhaps soft, rolling ocean waves are inspiring you to relocate your primary residence permanently. Either way, there are a few things to consider before buying a coastal home.
1) Develop a solid budget.
The last thing you want is to purchase a relaxing residence only to stress about meeting mortgage payments. Protect your sanity (and your investment) by realistically estimating expenses, such as insurance, utilities, and structure and grounds maintenance. You should also set aside funds for unexpected emergencies like a spur-of-the-moment water heater replacement or environmental damages.
According to FEMA’s Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction, homes in coastal areas will require more upkeep simply because of their environment. When you couple that with potential HOA requirements, home and flood insurance, or property maintenance, such as pest control and landscaping, overhead can add up quickly. Make sure to triple-check your budget to ensure you’ve considered all the “little costs.”
Additionally, we suggest rounding up or reasonably over-estimating your expenses to give your wallet a little breathing room. All these considerations will help you determine a comfortable payment.
2) Connect with a reputable real estate agent.
Considering all the different factors involved in searching for and purchasing a beach home, the experience can be overwhelming. One of your first priorities should be finding an experienced real estate agent, specifically one well-versed in coastal properties. Hiring an agent who can provide knowledge of coastal home values, familiarity with the local real estate market, and solid negotiation skills could save you money in the long haul.
3) Consider the integrity of the property and structure.
It’s easy to spot the “perfect” beach home, but the devil is in the details. Minor construction errors or oversights can lead to major problems in the future, especially when considering properties routinely exposed to severe weather events. Hire a home inspector to perform a thorough property inspection before you make a purchase. This could save you a lot of money in unexpected repairs down the road. Here are some key considerations for coastal homes:
Construction: Beachfront weather can be brutal. Hurricanes, ocean salt, wind, and potential flooding can quickly turn your dream home into a financial nightmare. Look for a home built on stilts and constructed of concrete, naturally-durable wood, and/or moisture and decay-resistant material.
Foundation: A home’s foundation should be deep enough to withstand erosion and strong enough to resist waves, flooding, and debris. Additionally, a solid foundation should transfer any wind or seismic force from the upper levels of the house to the ground.
Connections: Structural integrity also includes internal attributes, such as roof-to-wall, wall-to-wall, and wall-to-foundation connections. Bolts, screws, and ring-shanked nails are common code requirements in beach localities.
Windows, doors, and roofs: To combat high winds and windborne debris, structures need strong doors, windows, and roofing ready for the task.
4) Consider proximity to water.
If you’re moving to the coast, chances are you want to be close to the water. If so, there are increased rewards but also increased risks, including more wear-and-tear from winds and water, increased potential for inclement weather damage, and higher insurance rates. If oceanfront living is a must, pay close attention to a home’s structural integrity, and add a safe budget buffer for increased planned and unplanned maintenance expenses.
5) Inspect the outdoor spaces.
You’re not moving to the beach to stay inside, so look for all those patios, decks, and porches that will help you enjoy the views and the weather. Possible considerations might include the following:
- Covered porches for a retreat from the sun
- Sunny patios or roof decks for taking in the view
- A fire pit to make the outdoors enjoyable later in the season
- An outdoor shower for cleaning up after a trip to the beach
- A pool or hot tub
6) Contemplate potential rental income.
If you’re investing in a potential rental property, look at the home from a fellow vacationer’s point of view. How marketable is the retreat? What type of vacationer would find it attractive? Does the property lend itself to smaller or larger parties? (According to Realtor.com, beach houses with more than one bedroom rent at higher rates.) The more desirable a property is to travelers, the more money you’ll make, which means less stress to cover costs.
Whether you’re investing in a vacation rental, looking for a family retreat, or establishing a permanent residence on the coast, our team of experts at OVM Financial are ready to help develop the best plan for you. Contact us today, or start your online mortgage application.
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