Buying a Beach House Tips
Hire a Local Real Estate Agent
It is important that you hire a real estate agent who will have knowledge of the local area. He will be able to suggest the best properties which will be within your allocated budget. He will know about the areas which are prone to high tides, storms, and floods and will ask you to avoid those areas. Through his contacts, you will also be able to negotiate a better price.
Scout for the Right Location
Don’t just buy a house because it touted as ‘hot’ property by your real estate agent. Apart from considering whether the house faces the beach or not, you will also have to ensure that it is not located in a completely isolated area or one which is overcrowded. Try to rent a property in the neighborhood and stay there for a few days to understand about the public transport, availability of medical help, supermarkets, electricity, etc. Just imagine what will happen if there is a medical emergency and no hospital within the vicinity.
Investigate the House
Most importantly, speak to the neighbors to see what kind of company you will have. Understand about the history of the area and the house. Understand about the house’s safety and security quotient from them. If possible, check the photographs of the coastline around the house, over a period of years. You can also utilize the public library to get details about the area or merely google them. Also, do not forget to order a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report from your insurance agent to get a 5-year history of the home. You should also get the natural hazard disclosure report.
Size of the Beach House
So you always dreamed of a grand beach house by the sea; however, given your budget, you are only able to afford a small one. Ensure that you get a house where you will be easily able to fit your family and other visitors. See that the beach house comes with utilities like furnace, AC, solar panels, a proper sewage and drainage system, electricity, etc. If you do not have a budget for a bigger one, wait till you have gathered funds, or buy a decent beach house and furnish it with foldable furniture to save space.
Decide the Utility
An asset like a second home when not utilized for rent will become a liability as you will still have to pay insurance and other dues for it. Hence, it is advisable that whenever you are not occupying the beach house, you must rent it out to other people who need a good place to stay during their vacation. This will help get some income, which can go as funds towards your loan repayment.
You would definitely not want to invest in a house which will be prone to problems due to high tides, sea storms, floods, etc. You will like to stay in a house that will be safe for you and your family members. Hence, it is advisable that the house you intend to buy is surveyed by the geological surveyor or a local building and conservation agency. This inspection will tell you if the house is on a stable land or one that is just eroding away. Ask the inspector to also check the plumbing and ventilation. Also, a beach-facing house will face more wear and tear because of the salty air, water and winds, problems to foundation and wood, and troubles such as rust, and molds. The inspector will let you know whether buying the house at that specific location will be a good decision or not. The last thing you would want to do is buy a house in an area which is prone to storms and floods as they can make you shell out a lot of money on expensive repairs. Even if it is a new property, it is advisable that you do not skip the inspection process.
Ideally, you should buy raised or elevated beach houses, especially those that are located on the shorefront. If you do not want to let go of a good house in a flood-prone area, you can raise it to avoid the water from affecting its exterior. Ensure that your house is based on a foundation that adheres to the requirement of your zone. Also, check that it is above the FEMA’s Base Flood Elevation to avoid damage due to floods. You can also check the flood profiles and the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). This will also help determine the amount of flood insurance that you will have to take. It is advisable that you visit the FEMA website to get more information about this.
Look Beyond What Meets the Eye
Check if your beach house is going to be part of a homeowner association or any other community association. These associations look after the maintenance of common areas, beach access, etc. If you have a beachfront house, you may have to adhere to the rules and regulations set by these association. You must also verify how financially and legally stable these bodies are. The last thing you would want to do is to have a house in an area where these associations do not have adequate funds for certain services that can raise the value of your house or get you a better resale bargain. Conduct some online research on these associations before you decide to buy a beach house in their area. You can also read the minutes of meetings on their website to get a firsthand account of their proceedings.
Don’t think that once you buy the house, it will remain in good condition without any special care. You will have to undertake its maintenance from time to time. Otherwise, the salty ocean winds and harsh climate will deteriorate the paint, metal fittings, etc.
Know About the Total Costs
You will have to pay for the cost of the house and the brokerage. However, this initial cost of the beach house is only the tip of the iceberg. Remember that if you are not planning to stay there throughout the year or are going to lease it out, you will require to hire a property manager. Apart from this, regular maintenance will be necessary to keep the house in an inhabitable condition. You will also have to spend on property taxes, insurance of the house, utilities, loan interest, etc. Hence, calculate the estimated costs for all these factors when you will consider the affordability quotient of the beach house. Undertake cost comparison in a particular area, and negotiate the rates before zeroing in on a single beach house.
Do not just buy a beach house because you wanted to have an investment. Understand how it will fare as a long-term investment after a certain number of years. The cost of the property should appreciate over a period of time and fetch you a good bargain once you decide to sell it. If this is not expected to happen in the area of your beach house, reconsider your buying decision.
If you are buying a beach house in partnership with a friend or family, decide the terms for distribution of the rental income. If you have pitched in 60% and your friend has expended 40%, know who will get a greater share in the rent. Try to buy a beach house in the US itself, instead of buying it in a different country. Also, ensure that your beach home is within the driving distance from your residence. You will have to pay taxes on this house, so visit a tax consultant to know about your tax liability. Look at the history of the area to ensure that it is not prone to natural disasters. Also, it is important that you undertake a thorough due diligence before finalizing the deal.