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Family enjoying breakfast on the deck at their beach house

What to consider when buying a beach house

Imagine waking up with the sun glimmering through your bay windows on an early summer morning. The bright light reflects off the ocean below as seagulls chirp and gentle waves crash. The warm temperatures and gorgeous scenery make breakfast on the deck a delicious way to start the day.

Sounds heavenly, right? The benefits of buying a beach house are as plain as day, but before you take the plunge, it's important to evaluate the whole picture from a cost, maintenance and potential loss perspective.

Here are four main factors to consider before purchasing a beach house:

Beach houseThey're usually top dollar

There aren't many beachfront properties from which to choose. This fact alone makes them pricey. Beachfront properties cost significantly more than the typical house, even when they're considerably smaller in square footage and boast fewer attractive interior features.  

Rental income not a sure thing

Perhaps you're looking to buy a beach house as a second home and to rent it out when it's not in use. This can make a lot of sense and defray some of the costs associated with taking out a first or second mortgage. But as real estate expert Kay Walten explained to, banking on renters could be a recipe for disaster if the market turns sour.

"We see people look at their dream place on the sand ... and they're confident they can keep it 'full' only to realize they can't," Walten explained.

In short, rental income isn't a guarantee, so you should have a plan B that you can turn to if plan A doesn't pan out during rental season.

Maintenance is often demanding

Keeping up with repairs is an ongoing chore, no matter where you live. However, it's particularly demanding as the owner of a beach house, with damage caused by erosion, heavy wind gusts and pounding surf. Plus, there's an increased risk of experiencing the ill effects of hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

According to a report from CoreLogic, nearly 7 million homes are in the crosshairs of storm surge emanating from hurricane activity, with reconstruction costs topping $1.6 trillion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, property owners in Texas, Louisiana and Florida are the most susceptible to hurricane storm surge damage than any other.

High home insurance rates

Given they're more likely to be impacted by weather-related catastrophes, home insurance premiums tend to be more expensive than inland properties. Depending on where you buy, you may be required to obtain certain policies, such as flood insurance.

Scared away? That's not the intent. A beachfront property can be heaven on Earth. But it's also important to enter into beachfront ownership with your eyes open and backup plans in place for those days when it isn't all sunshine and blue skies. If you want to take a realistic look at the numbers, get your mortgage Loan Officer on the phone and have a quick strategy talk.

With a little planning and preparation, that sunlit breakfast on the deck could be your reality.