When you think of beach front homes, what comes to mind? Perhaps you picture yourself standing on the porch at dusk, a piña colada in your hand as you watch the sunset. The waves crash on the shore and the sea breeze ruffles your hair. Or maybe you don't care so much about the views and you are more interested in riding the waves and partying at the local bar at night.
Finding the right beach front home comes down to satisfying what you are looking for. Not everyone needs a property that is yards away from the beach. But for some people, this is a make or break factor. The following are 3 basic questions to ask yourself to help you narrow down your choices.
1. What water-based activities are you hoping to enjoy?
Do you have a boat that you hope to take out as often as possible? If so, your house should come with a garage large enough to accommodate your car and your boat. You'll also want to be close to water good for boating—away from crowded beaches. If you're a surfer, then you want to be near enough to your favorite beach for catching the waves. And if you plan to fish every morning… You see where we’re heading here.
Ask the locals how crowded the various water spots will get during peak season. And if there are good alternatives when that happens. You want a waterfront property, but chances are you don't want it so crowded that you can't indulge in your water sport. Of course, if a house in your prime location is out of your price range, you will need to refigure. But knowing what is at the top of your wish list will give you a great starting point.
2. What other location needs do you have?
Are you thinking of retiring at your beach front property? If yes, then you'll have other needs to consider as well. You'll want to have easy access to the local shopping area and hospital. A good community structure and a safe living area are also important aspects to consider.
Perhaps you only plan to use the house during your vacation times, and you hope to rent it out throughout the rest of the year. If this is the case for you, then consider what would make a property highly rentable. There are other considerations with investment properties, particularly along the coastlines of Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego. But good property management can help you keep on top of all the ins and outs.
3. What house amenities are vital?
How many rooms do you need? Are air conditioners a must? A gas oven? Shutters? A porch? An ocean view? While you may not get everything on your wish list, knowing what you are hoping for will help you better recognize the right house when it appears. Writing out a list of negotiables and non-negotiables is a good step to take that will help you clarify in your mind what kind of fixtures you want. Remember, that even with properties that don't have that item on your wish list, look to see if adding it yourselves is a possibility. Is there space to add a deck to the front of your property? If yes, then you are still in business. But if that house has no space for expansion, then you might want to look elsewhere.
These three questions should help you narrow down the listings you see online. Your answers will help hone, even further, the questions you ask when you visit the property in person. While your real estate agent will likely know a lot about the property and possibly about the area, her job is to sell the property to you. So doing your own research, for example—catching up on local news and information, is a step you should take. But the effort will be worth it when you are in your new water front home at last!