Oceanfront homes are very desirable for both primary and secondary residences due to the beautiful views and ocean breezes, but they often come with a hefty price tag.  As a result, there are many things that a buyer should take into consideration before making such a big purchase.  The following 10 tips will give you a heads-up on what you should consider when buying on the water.

  1. You should ensure that your agent has knowledge of the pros and cons of buying oceanfront homes and is well versed in the particulars of that beach location.  For example, you would want your agent to be able to advise on any erosion issues and if there is an issue in that area with getting insurance.  You should consider hiring someone who specializes in waterfront as there can be many nuances when buying this type of home.
  2. Really consider your lot.  You can alter your home, but you cannot alter your lot or its location.  For example, make sure that it has the view you desire.  Is the water murky?  How is the access to the water? How far away is the local grocery store? Do you have a public access beside your lot?  If so, is this a problem for you and do you desire more privacy?  Look at the survey of the land and know what you are buying and where your property lines begin and end.  You will want to consider all of these things and ensure they met your needs prior to purchasing the home.
  3. Due to the fact that oceanfront homes can often be millions of dollars, you will want to start shopping for a loan early unless paying cash.  Oceanfront homes often have jumbo loans due to the price and you will want to ensure you are proactive in securing financing.
  4. Similar to securing your financing, you will want to look into obtaining insurance early on as well.  Insurance on oceanfront homes can be costly and complicated.  For example, you may not have as many options on carriers as many carriers do not want to insure oceanfront homes.  Oceanfront homes need more and different coverage than most homeowners policies provide.  In most cases, you will need multiple policies and they may be with different companies.  Consider your flood insurance carefully.
  5. Erosion is a common problem and the buyer will want to ask if sand has needed to be pumped in and if so, on average, how often is this done.  You will want to be well versed on the changing shoreline in the area in which you are looking to purchase.
  6. You should be aware that many oceanfront homes run the risk of needing to weather a hurricane.  You should consider whether or not the home has hurricane shutters and the cost of adding them if needed.  If this will be your primary residence, you should understand that you may need to evacuate your home for a hurricane and will need to plan accordingly for where you will be able to stay during this time.  Many times, it can be days before you will be granted access to be able to re-enter your home and assess any damage.
  7. If you are buying an oceanfront home as a second home/vacation home and will want to rent it for any amount of time to offset costs, you will have further considerations.  For example, what is the current rental landscape in the area in which you are looking to purchase?  You will want to have your realtor provide you with the information on the rental market.  How many other rentals are in the area and how much are similar properties charging for rent?  Will the expected amount of rental income meet your financial objectives that you have in mind?  If you rent the home, will you use a rental management company or manage the rentals yourself?  Does your HOA allow for rentals in the neighborhood?
  8. There is additional maintenance that comes along with the salt at the beach.  For example, the salt can take a toll on your automobiles, your HVAC, and your siding.  Typically, HVAC units at the beach have a shorter life span than those inland due to the corrosion caused by the salt air.  HVAC units usually have a life span of 10-15 years, but HVACs at the beach have a life span of 8-14 years depending on where the home sits and how well the unit is maintained.  You will want to account for the expense of replacing the units more often for oceanfront homes.  Homes often require more frequent painting at the beach so you will want to plan on this expense as well.
  9. Find out what alterations you can make to the property.  For example, if you would want to add a dock or bulkhead, you will want to ensure that you can get the proper permits.  Government entities can be difficult to deal with and you will want to understand what is allowed before making such a costly investment.
  10. Is this home part of a homeowners association?  If so, you will want to understand your responsibilities and the rules that you will be required to adhere to as a resident.