A vacation home on the beach may seem like a dream get away location, but there are many things you need to consider before you close on the deal. The following is a list of items you don't want to overlook when you are perusing the real estate listings.
#1: How is the area during the off-season?
You may be familiar with the area from summer vacations, but do you know what it is like in other seasons? Some areas become ghost towns in winter, which means you may not even be able to find a local grocery store open. This may not be an issue if you only plan to use the beach home for summer, but it could be an unwelcome surprise if you plan a Christmas visit to the home, for example. Make sure you know how many year-round residents are in the area, and get an idea of which local services are seasonal only.
#2: What is the weather like?
Similar to the above, you may not be fully aware of what the weather is like outside of the normal vacationing season. Is the area prone to severe weather, such as hurricanes, wind storms, or floods? If your beach home is near a mountain lake, how accessible is it during winter snow storms? Not only will the weather affect your usage during the off-season, it can also affect the cost for insuring the property. Talk to the locals to find out what you can really expect. For example, they are the ones that will know if certain roads tend to get washed out each year.
#3: Is beach accessibility private or public?
Some beach homes come with their own private dock and stretch of beach. These are usually at a premium, though. For others, there is a private beach that is maintained by the homeowners association. You will pay either a monthly or annual fee to the association, and in exchange they will give you and your guests access to the beach. Make sure you know the quality of the beach. Is it groomed? Are there boat launches, picnic areas, or defined swimming areas? In some instances, the beach area may be public. In this case, see if there are any extras given to homeowners. Some municipalities, for example, will give homeowners free access to fee-based boat launches, since it is their property taxes supporting the beach.
Talk to a real estate agent in the area where you are looking to buy for more help in choosing the perfect vacation home for sale.