What To Consider Before Buying A House On The Water
Leaving the hustle and bustle of city life and escape the beach sounds like a dream come true. Just think about waking up to the sound of the waves hitting against the shoreline. From sunrise to sunset the view is ever changing. This is where our families create some of the best memories of our lives. They say there is no place like home, even better there is no place like home on the beach.
Things you should know and take in consideration before you make that kind of investment. There are certain precautions you can take to make that dream a reality and not a nightmare. Keep they old blood pressure at bay, if you will. This will help you do just that.
Know Your Surroundings
In my opinion I think it is beneficial to check the area out and get more familiar with what is around your new beach house. I know some people even rent in the area for a while before making such a large investment. Know the demographics of the area. A Realtors Professional Resource report will definitely come in handy. This report is a valuable piece of information that can be digitally sent to you by email for your convienance. Try to keep a few things in mind such as where are the closest hospitals and fire stations in the event it is ever necessary, hopefully not. Still a good idea to be prepared just in case. Know where the pharmacies are and how long it takes to get there. I can’t stress preparation and prevention enough in all things we do in life. Also, how about grocery stores a place we visit a few times a week. Or a convienant store when you just want to pick up one or two items right quick. Then there is definitely a need for some type of entertainment such as parks, restaurants and theatres for example. Always a good thing to know how far away some your favorite types of entertainment is. You might want to know where the closest airport is especially if you do a lot of traveling, pet care, and museums. If you own a boat where are the marinas and the cost involved.
We have a separate section about boat ownership, we will cover that in a later section of this article.
Know Your Neighbors
It is probable a good idea to get to know your neighbors. For the most part I think neighbors are willing to help and answer some questions you might have and answer a few you didn’t think of. If you have children, you will want to check out the schools and the school ratings. Your children will probably need some time to make a few adjustments and will want to make new friends. Another good reason to get to know your neighbors. Or maybe you don’t have children and want to be as far away from the noise that come along with children. The beach can be a party atmosphere and you do or don’t want that around you. Maybe you prefer a more remote location. Just be sure if you choose a remote location make sure the first responders can reach you and how long that could take in the event you ever need to call them. A remote location can be an invitation for thieves be sure you are well protected. Just saying check every possibility out first before making any hasty decisions. Hopefully, this gave you some food for thought…
Work with a local Realtor
If you can get a recommendation through a friend or peer, do so. A Realtor will know the ins and outs of the area both during peak and off-peak season. Will you want to use this house year round? If so you will want to find out whether businesses stay open year round, or if certain places close after Labor Day (US) as many are apt to do in seasonal, seaside resort areas. A good Realtor should have all the information you’ll need including the history of the area and weather patterns.
When was the last big storm? How much damage did it cause? These are important facts to find out. A local library can help here too. You can research old papers and documents and look at the shoreline for any visible signs of damage. As I mentioned earlier, it’s always a great idea to get to know the neighbors, in this case it is as well as they will fill you in on things that a Realtor may not. Communication is key. Talk to as many people as you can.
Bring in the experts. Have a home inspection
This is really a given – or should be, but especially in coastal areas, home inspection is crucial. A home inspector will look for all signs of wear and tear that come naturally from age, as well as those brought on by the sea and her storms. An inspector will be able to tell if the house has flooded and whether this happens often. Flood waters cause great damage to electrical systems, foundations, wood and mold. These damages can be quite severe and quite expensive to repair.
If the home has signs of flooding our suggestion would be to walk away from it. If raising the home, an expensive project, is a possibility, talk to surveyors and contractors. Many coastal home owners are now raising their homes because they want to remain where they are, but need to prevent future flooding.
Hire an engineer or land surveyor
Have them note the highest level of ocean tides and whether the tides are continuously high. If so the area in question really should be avoided. In the US our weather seems to be getting more erratic and more severe and seems not to be showing an signs on calming down. A geological inspector, land surveyor or engineer should be able to check for the stability of the shore and the land around it by checking for erosion, and researching tides and storm surges.
We need to be prepared for the worst and this begins in selecting a good and safe location for your beach home. Look for greenery around your home. If there are plenty of trees, and lots of grass this is indeed a good sign as it means there is good drainage. Buyer beware, however. Do check the grasses on the property. Are they overly saturated? Are they new? A newly placed lawn could raise red flags. What indeed might the current homeowner be trying to cover up?
Consider beach-front vs off-beach property
Does your beach house have to be sitting directly on the water? Can it be a couple of blocks away from the water? Reasons to consider a home that is set away slightly from the beach are many. First and foremost is the price. You will pay top dollar for a home that has waterfront views, while a house that is set back slightly will cost less. You’re apt to get more house and more property for the money as well. Do you have young children or a growing or a large family?
Do you need extra bedrooms and extra living space as well as some room for outdoor living on your property? A beach front home will absolutely appreciate faster, but it is also more likely to suffer weather-related and storm-related damages. A beach-front property could also be more expensive to insure.
Buy what you can afford
As with any home you want to stick within your means. Meet with financial experts to learn the ins and outs of buying a second property or beach property. Are there certain guidelines that must be adhered to? Is this a financial decision that makes sense? In addition to the purchasing expenses, taxes and insurance, ocean-front properties require much more maintenance than homes in-land.
Will you be able to financially handle these additional expenses? The sea, salt and high winds will cause significant wear and tear on your home and you will need to have your property inspected from time to time for signs of water damage and mold, repairs will need to be made as needed.
You’re buying a dream
Your beach house, whether it is your primary or secondary resident, whether it is something you plan on keeping in the family for generations to come, or potential source of income as a rental property, should be a purchase well thought through. This dream turned reality shouldn’t become a sudden nightmare. Arm yourself well with knowledge and research and planning so that you know all that’s involved with owning beach property. Your beach home should be a place of rest and relaxation, a foundation from which many memories are made for years and years to come.
If you’ve always dreamed of owning a home on or near the beach, you shouldn’t be discouraged from doing so, but you should be savvy about this investment. The more you know the better off you will be in the long run. Play it safe and be smart about your purchase. Be prepared so that when the worst case scenario happens you won’t be caught off-guard and you and your home will be able to weather any
Bridges-Boats and Waterways
Find A Realtor Who Knows Florida and The Waterways.
Are you from Florida or another part of the country?
That may not have had previous experience owning a home on the water, or who may be new to Florida boating, there are many things to consider that are often overlooked when purchasing a Florida waterfront home.
One of the first thing we will need to know is what type of boat do you own and its draft (depth) or height as this will determine whether you will require a sailboat (no fixed bridge) or power boat (fixed bridge) location.
The construction and maintenance of the canal and seawall systems
In one area they may be maintained through property taxes where in other areas they are not. The canals that are maintained in areas such as Punta Gorda Isles and Burnt Store Isles average a minimum of approximately 10 ft. in depth but can be as deep as 20+ feet. Bridge heights will typically give you a good 10-11 and possibly 12 ft. clearance at high tide, so a person owning a sailboat or powerboat with a flying bridge may not want to consider a home in the “power boat section” as a viable option.
A good thing to know is the distance to the harbor
The person referring to themselves as a “waterfront specialist” asks not only the type of boat you have, but what kind of boating you like to do. If you are an avid fisherman, the last thing you want is the location of a home that will take you an hour to get to the harbor from your dock. For the day sailor or weekend cruiser, I often hear the distance to the harbor is irrelevant as it is “Part of the journey,” so knowing a client’s style of boat and their boating interests is the first step in determining a location best suited to their particular needs.
Knowledge of water depths, bridge height is important
The potential costs of canal and seawall maintenance is critical, having an appreciation for the effects of weather conditions on tides and water depths is information that is vital to anyone looking to purchase a waterfront home in Florida, especially when they plan on boating during the months of January, February and March. During these peak tourist times of the year, water depths can be affected by as much as one to two feet and more depending on the temperatures and wind direction. Cold winter blasts characterized by strong winds coming out of the east or north can reduce water depths significantly and any prospective buyer should be made aware of these occurrences as they could be a determining factor whether the existing water depths at the prospective home site are adequate, or if the boat the buyer is considering to purchase would be best suited for those extreme conditions.
Location of the property
The backyard “exposure,” and size of the seawall are common considerations in the purchase of a home, having an intimate knowledge of the local waters and how they may compare to the characteristics of waterfront locations in other parts of the country will enable the buyer to avoid the pitfalls and get the most enjoyment out of owning a Florida waterfront home.
What is Affordable
What you are able to afford will be a major determining factor on the type of home and its location. Typically homes with the quickest access to the harbor and gulf islands beyond will command the highest price, so don’t be surprised to see high sticker prices on even older homes that have very close proximity to the harbor as you are paying for location!!! It is also not uncommon for someone with a strong boating desire, but a limited budget to consider the purchase of a home off water, but within a reasonable distance to the many new and upgraded public boat ramps found throughout the county. A true waterfront specialist will be able to quickly determine the best solution to your boating needs, while giving you a great insight to the many unique opportunities that Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands have in store for you!!!
Sonny Ogilvie and The Anchor Team
Ogilvie Real Estate, Inc
88 Riberia St, Suite 140
St Augustine, Florida 32084
Captain Dylan Perry
Siesta Key, Florida