How to Buy the Perfect Beach House for You

There are a lot of factors to consider when searching for the perfect beach home for you and your family. You probably already have an idea of where you want to be, but after that—you’re not quite sure how best to proceed with finding the beach house that best suits your needs and wants. Let us help! Read up on these 8 beach house buying tips and then get started on turning your beach house dreams into a happy reality.

If you’re considering purchasing a coastal home or vacation rental in Topsail, North Carolina, Access Realty can help. We know and love this area and can give you the insider information you need along with all of the tools of the trade to help you find your Topsail beach house. We’re happy to help!

1. Rent before you buy.

One of the best ways to get to know an area before you commit to it full-time is by vacationing and spending some of your time in differing places near to where you are considering investing your time and money. Get to know what it’s like to stay on the ocean side, the sound side, and a few blocks in from the beach. From there, you may want to extend your stay by considering  a long-term rental to get a better feel for what it’s like to live there beyond just a week or two during your summer vacation.

On Topsail Island itself, you have three coastal towns to choose from so spending a little time in vacation rentals in North Topsail Beach, Surf City and Topsail Beach will give you a more intimate knowledge of these NC beach towns. If you can’t stay in each town, then be sure to spend a good amount of time exploring each of them—while also thinking about which one might be the best fit for you and your family.

2. Get to know the community.

The beautiful beach is one thing, but that’s only part of what you’re buying into. It’s worth your while to get to know the local communities and neighborhoods so you can make an informed decision. Scoping out the development plans, ecological and environmental issues, and other pertinent quality of life information is well worth your time and research.

Is the area family oriented? Are the communities safe? Are the neighborhoods geared more toward retirees or families with young kids? What are the advantages of living there? Are there any disadvantages?

Home ownership is a year-round commitment. You definitely want to know what the off-season months are like, along with the seasonal ones. Are you ready and willing to deal with the hustle and bustle of the beach season during the summer months? And are you happy with what the shoulder and off seasons have to offer you? These are really important questions to answer before you commit to buying.

3. Look for a home that fits your needs.

Of course you don’t want to break your budget, but you do need to know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you require for your family to be comfortable. Will you have family visiting and can you accommodate them? Exactly how much beach house can you reasonably afford?

Once you know that, you’re off to a good start. You’ll also need to be realistic about the maintenance and upkeep costs of a beach home and any renovations or special insurances you may need.

Are you going to use it as a second home? Vacation rental? Live there full-time? Whatever your intent, be sure it works with your budget and won’t strap you with too much financial strain and stress.

4. Consider homes a few blocks off the beach.

A beach house doesn’t always mean it has to be ocean front. Interior homes have many of the perks of an oceanfront beach home without the additional cost and with a little more protection from the coastal elements, making them a more affordable and budget-friendly option for many potential buyers.

It also costs more to insure homes that right on the water, whether it be the ocean or the sound. Know your costs before you commit and weigh whether that ocean view is worth the higher price tag.

5. Be conservative with your budget.

Unless you’re planning to buy a beach house free and clear, you’ll need a mortgage. If this is a second home or vacation rental, lending standards will be more strict considering you probably already own a home. If for some reason you would default on your payments, lenders will assume that you’d do that on your beach house first and not your primary residence.

The good news is that you’ll already have a good line of credit and higher credit score established. According to this article on BankRate.com, “Lenders are also looking for 6 to 12 months of payments banked. And they won’t include potential rental income in their calculations.”

Of course there will also be a downpayment, which is another expense you’ll have to be prepared to comfortably pay out. The standard is still around 20% down, but there may be lower options in the 5-10% range. Be sure to examine all the possibilities available to you.

The bottom line is that you don’t want to overextend yourself and your finances. Plan conservatively so that when unexpected expenses come up (and they usually do), you’ll be able to handle them.

6. Stay realistic about upkeep costs.

As any homeowner knows, the expenses don’t end with the downpayment and mortgage. There’s insurance and upkeep costs to maintain your coastal home, just as with any other home. Coastal homes are most susceptible to flooding and storm damage given their location, so special insurances are often required.

And then there are other considerations like storm shutters, generators, and other protective and proactive features that will be part of the expenses of owning a beach house.  Don’t be caught off-guard by these costs, but instead research and be prepared to factor them into your budget.

Finally, are you going to be able to keep up the maintenance and required upkeep for your beach house? Or will you have to hire someone to do it for you? You want to make sure you have the time and/or the money for either option.

7. Decide if it will be a vacation rental.

If you want to regain some of the money you spent buying your beach house, renting it out to vacationers is a popular option. That’s a factor you’ll want to weigh carefully before you buy because that means you’re not only buying a house that your family will love, but one that vacationers in the area will find attractive, also. Some properties are just better suited as vacation rentals than others.

Beach homes with more bedrooms and bathrooms are a draw for families and extended families who are looking for a vacation accommodation where everyone will have enough room to be comfortable, while all sharing the same space. Of course, the amenities your beach house has to offer are important too, since the vacation rental market can be pretty competitive.

If you are considering buying a beach house to use as a vacation rental, you’ll also have to decide if you will be managing all of that yourself or using a property management company to do it for you.

8. Consult the experts before you commit.

Before you sign on any dotted lines, you want to make sure you’ve consulted with the experts in the field to make sure you understand everything that’s required and what you’re committing to. From home inspectors to realtors, and everyone in between, you want to choose knowledgable and reputable professionals who have experience and expertise in coastal property in the area where you are looking to buy.

These professionals know the local laws, requirements and any special considerations specific to your potential beach house purchase. Don’t go it alone! You have to do your due diligence. It’s much easier to get help from those who already have the local knowledge and experience that you probably won’t yet have.

We hope you’ve found these beach home buying tips helpful! Did we miss anything? We want to know!

If you’re looking for local Topsail area real estate agents and professionals to help you find the perfect Topsail Island beach house for you, Access Realty’s Real Estate Sales Team is here to help.  They know the island and greater Topsail area, so they are a valuable resource to help you get familiar what you need to know about Topsail Island, NC and what it has to offer you. Whether you’re looking to buy a beach home in North Topsail Beach, Surf City or Topsail Beach, they’ve got you covered!