Castles in the Sand
When my brother and I were kids, 80s country music was a staple on car rides. Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba. The mournful warblings of everything from neon moons to achy breaky hearts emblazoned themselves on our tender young eardrums. One of these was a song called “Ocean Front Property,” which went like this:
I got some ocean front property in Arizona. From my front porch you can see the sea. I got some ocean front property in Arizona. If you’ll buy that I’ll throw the golden gate in free.
I was seven. The brother was four. As far as we were concerned, oceanfront property in Arizona came with golden gates.
Thus my first misconception about buying beachside was born. But it was not to be the last.
Most of us have dreamed the beachside dream, albeit not in Arizona and possibly without the golden gates. But if you’re one of those dreamers who’s “a-hankerin’” to turn this salt-scented dream into reality, there are a few things you need to know first.
Beachfront property holds its value a lot better than its non-beachfront cousins. If you buy it as an investment, odds are it’s going to be a sound one. Even if the market dives, your beachfront home will be the first to bounce back again.
Distant shores, deep discounts
If you buy overseas, you stand to get a lot more for your money when it comes to buying beachfront. Same view, lower price tag. Just do your due diligence and familiarize yourself with the country’s property-ownership rules ahead of time.
Hey, it’s the beach
You get to live (or at least vacation) by the sea. Wake up to the sound of waves crashing in the morning. Indulge in seaside treats like sailing, beach-strolling, surfing, and sunbathing anytime you want – because they’re five steps away. You get your very own castle in the sand. This is what it’s all about.
Corrosive sand. Saltwater. Storm surges. Water damage and mold. Beachfront properties are exposed to more than their share of wear and tear. Be prepared to field extra maintenance costs for paint, roof metal, AC units, carpets, and a lot of other things you don’t have to worry about as much with your inland house.
Beachfront properties also see more than their share of natural disasters, like floods and hurricanes – and your insurance company knows it. Regular homeowners insurance doesn’t usually come with coverage for beachside disasters. You’ll have to buy it on top of your normal coverage, and it doesn’t come cheap.
Thinking you’ll use your beach house as a vacation destination and make it into a rental for the rest of the year? Your beachfront property will rent for a lot more than your inland house – but that doesn’t mean you’re going to make money off of it. Rent should bring in 1% of the purchase price each month for your rental to be profitable. If you buy your house for $1 million, you’re talking about $10,000 in monthly rent. Not an easy sell – even for beachfront.
Alas, you aren’t the only one who enjoys the beach. That means your piece of paradise may be crowded for a few select months out of the year. If your idea of beachside living includes peace and solitude, you may want to investigate the tourism situation before you sign on the dotted line.
Don’t let the cons wash your seaside fantasies away. If you want your beachside dream bad enough, make it happen. Your castle in the sand is waiting. Sculpt it well.