February 14, 2017

Is Buying a Beachfront Condo a Good Investment? Considerations for Purchasing Property on the Water

A beachfront condo can be a wonderful investment, especially if you’re planning on using it as a vacation rental property. In fact, my family’s first vacation home was a beachfront condo on Sanibel Island, and we never had any trouble keeping it booked year-round.

Although it was quite profitable, we did find that there was a very steep learning curve when it came to some of the unique challenges of owning a beachfront condominium. Fortunately, many of the challenges we encountered were remedied with the help of a property manager. But it’s important to take many of these obstacles into consideration when acquiring this type of property.

Challenges Facing Beachfront Condo Owners: Storms and Weather Damage

One of the most significant concerns that beachfront condo owners will encounter involves the potential for flooding and storm damage. Our Sanibel condo was a first-floor unit, about 50 to 75 yards from the actual shoreline (depending on the time of day).

During Hurricane Andrew in 1992, storm forecasters had predicted that our condo would be totally under water, but luckily, the storm shifted slightly and we didn’t suffer any serious flooding or storm damage. We were fortunate in that we did have a property manager who was able to place sandbags around the entrances to avoid flooding and storm shutters to prevent damage to the windows from flying debris. Your property manager can play a vital role in this way if you’re in an area that’s storm-prone.

Since it was a condo, we didn’t have to worry about damage to roofing, siding, or landscaping. And if any siding or roofing damage had occurred, that would have fallen under the condo association’s jurisdiction for repairs. So your liability can be somewhat less than what you might see with a standalone structure. Plus, if your condo is above the first-floor level, you may not even need to worry about flooding, which means you’ll have far lower insurance premiums than you would if you had a typical beach house, even a stilt house.

Other Obstacles Involving a Beachfront Condo and How a Property Manager Can Help

Of course, severe storms are relatively few and far between. It’s many of the day-to-day issues that can pose a challenge for anyone who owns a beachfront condo.

The sand and the moist, humid, salty sea air can pose some serious problems for property owners. This can include:

Metal corrosion and pitting. The salty, humid air can cause corrosion in everything from electrical wiring to light fixtures, outdoor furniture, and hardware. Corrosion and pitting are most problematic outdoors, but you can see some issues indoors as well. A property manager who is familiar with the unique conditions in your area can be a valuable resource, helping you pick out fixtures, hardware, and furniture that will stand up to the coastal conditions.

Your property manager can also be on the lookout for any damage in its early stages so you can perform repairs or replace the item in question before collateral damage occurs or before guests notice the damage.

Mold and mildew. The humidity and moisture in the air can result in very rapid mold and mildew formation — literally, in a matter of a couple days. For this reason, your property manager will need to visit your property regularly, looking for any mold-related issues. Something as simple as a small leak from a unit situated above yours, a leaking pipe under your sink, or a small roof leak can result in significant mold-related damage that you must address promptly to minimize the costs.

While a serious mold problem may take weeks or months to form in an inland home, a coastal home will see significant mold and mildew growth in a matter of days. Outdoor furniture and outdoor carpeting is also very prone to mold and mildew and should generally be avoided.

Damage to flooring. Sand is extremely tough on your flooring. It can get worked into your carpets (and nearly impossible to totally remove), causing damage to the carpets with every step. Sand can also scratch up hardwood floors, ruin the finish, and gouge the wood in very short order.

Ideally, you should switch to tile and area rugs because tile is more durable and area rugs can be replaced or cleaned far more effectively than wall-to-wall carpeting. But if you do currently have carpeting and wood floors, your property manager can play a vital role by ensuring that your housekeeping crew does a thorough job cleaning the floors.

Most property managers also meet with your guests shortly after their arrival, so this can be a great opportunity to explain the importance of removing shoes or thoroughly wiping off sandy feet prior to entering. If you have direct beach access, your property manager can even place a foot bath near the door for added convenience.

Partying guests. Your property manager will also be especially important when it comes to screening, vetting, and monitoring your guests since there is a higher likelihood of disturbances occurring in a condo complex-type of setting. Beachfront condos are prime picks for college students and groups of young adults who may be keen to party, but this can cause some major conflict with your neighbors, especially if your neighbors are full-time residents.

This can result in issues with your condo association and even fines, so your property manager will play a vital role in keeping the peace. Your property manager may even opt to introduce him or herself to the neighbors of your beachfront condo, so they will have someone to contact if a particular group of guests is rowdy or disruptive.

Finding a Property Manager for Your Beachfront Home

If you’re ready to take the plunge by purchasing a beachfront vacation home or condo, you’ll need a fabulous property manager who can help oversee your new property. That’s where Rented.com comes in. We help match vacation rental homeowners with top local property managers. Many of the property managers we work with offer a guaranteed income model that provides property owners with a set monthly amount regardless of actual bookings. Sign up for a free account on Rented.com today to get started.

Lead image: Flickr CC user Sean MacEntee

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