A summery day out at a beach in the Hamptons.

Miles Astray / Getty Images/iStockphoto

For many people, owning beachside real estate would be a dream come true; but, in reality, it could become a nightmare.

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Oceanfront properties are usually some of the most expensive real estate in the country. They also can come with a number of increased risks, including a high propensity for flooding, erosion and weather-related damages.

Not only are the actual homes high-priced, but their upkeep and maintenance is also costly. Additional insurance, permitting and zoning expenses can break the bank. So, before you invest in a beachfront property, consider these six tips from real estate experts across the country.

It’s All About the Description

When buying beachfront real estate, you need to be mindful of the description of the property. Houses on or near the water will have specific wording indicating what kind of access you have. 

Cassie Alongi, CEO of We Buy Any House In California, notes that “beachside properties are awesome investments” but “pay attention to what the features are before buying.” 

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She said there is a difference between properties described as waterfront, having water access or having a water view.

“Waterfront means you have a repair right, and you can choose to build to the edge of the water,” she said. “Water access means you also have equal access to the beach water as your community does.”

Water view generally means you will have some sort of view of the water, but it could be between houses, down the street or only a sliver of visibility.

Do Your Due Diligence

Jon Sanborn, co-founder of Brotherly Love Real Estate, said potential beachside property buyers should “conduct their due diligence on local house prices and rent.” 

“Researching the local market beforehand is a must,” he said. “You must ensure that you’re not overpaying for the new property. And if you’re buying a beachfront condo, you must ensure that the fees are affordable.”

Know the Risks

While our experts agree that investing in beachside property is a smart idea, it also can come with a number of pitfalls. 

Jennifer Spinelli, founder and CEO of Niche Home Buyer, said, “One additional risk of purchasing beachside or oceanfront real estate is the potential for flooding or weather-related damages. These risks may be exacerbated by factors such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion and climate change. 

“Additionally, there may be hidden costs involved with maintaining your property in these areas, such as the cost of repairing damage caused by coastal erosion or repairing damaged infrastructure due to flooding.”

Be Prepared for Added Costs

Before you buy beachfront real estate, make sure you know all of the costs. In addition to the actual cost of the property, there may be a number of hidden expenses that may reduce the returns on your investment. Added costs can include mandated flood insurance, HOA expenses and money for maintenance and repairs. 

Understand State and Local Regulations

What many people do not realize about beachfront property is that it could be subject to certain restrictions.

“A few feet make all the difference when it comes to zoning laws,” said Shaun Martin, CEO of Cash for Houses. “Beachside zoning laws vary widely from city to city — and even state by state. It’s important that you know what kind of building restrictions may apply before making an offer on any given property.” 

Consider What You Want

Zackary Smigel, real estate expert and the founder of Real Estate License Wizard, cautions potential oceanfront property buyers to take several things into account before purchasing. For instance, you will want to consider:

  • “The type of coastline you live near. For example, if you’re in Hawaii, then you will want to buy an oceanfront property; on the other hand, if you are in Florida, then a condo would be a better solution.
  • The climate. Be sure to factor in things such as weather patterns and possible hurricanes.
  • Lifestyle considerations. Do you want to be close to town or further out? Will amenities like beaches and restaurants be available where your home is located?
  • Extras like parking and maintenance requirements (e.g., seawall construction).”

If owning oceanside property is in your future, make sure you consider our experts’ recommendations before buying. It may help make your beachfront real estate purchase a dream come true instead of a living nightmare.

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