The Problems With Buying Coastal Real Estate

By on March 24, 2016

If you live an outgoing or sporty lifestyle, the idea of living near the sea will probably appeal to you. The visualization of a great sea view in a cozy home along a stretch of beautiful coastal real estate is like a dream come true. At least that’s what movies make us feel when they run those bird eye’s view shots.

Yet even though a house along a coast line, or even just a simple waterfront home, is usually affordable to the average dual-income family, the take-up rate of is not as hot as the hype surrounding them.

I think this is the result of a few reasons

  • There is a general perception that coastal properties and waterfront homes for sale are expensive
  • Homeowners and buyers intuitively feels that there are implied problems with living near the sea
  • The locations are just not convenient to access workplaces
  • A lot of people just prefer living in the city although they love the sea
  • Investors that do not target this niche of tenants

Note that waterfront homes are not necessarily coastal properties. They can be beside lakes, rivers, man-made water features, etc.

Whether you are looking to buy or lease a house near the sea, for your own residence or for investment, you should get yourself informed about the risks and problems with coastal real estate.

The sea level is rising

And you thought collecting rent from tenants who spend their time surfing and getting drunk every other night could be a big challenge…

The biggest trouble-maker is actually mother nature.

It’s not as if you might move in today and find yourself having dinner knee-deep in seawater a year later.

But the fact is that sea levels are rising by millimeters on a yearly basis. And although this can seem like a minute factor that is negligible, it can be a decisive factor if your luck’s run out.

You should do a check. Because the beach front property you are looking at could already be precariously close to or below sea level. What could be protecting the house from all that water is just a man-made wall of concrete. At least that is something to keep you safe. It would be even worst if your only form of protection comes in the form of a “natural” dam… because nature can destroy it without warning.

Erosion is getting more common

I really don’t know if the higher frequency of soil erosion close to ocean front properties in recent years is due to such occurrences being more frequent, or because reporting is becoming more comprehensive due to social media.

No matter. Erosion is a real world problem for homeowners living on the coast face. There ARE people who have already lost their homes due to erosion. So it’s not something to scoff at.

Just imagine the pounding the land around the house takes from high and low tides, including the water currents. Just visit one of those modern water theme parks and you will have first-hand experience that the force of water is not something to mess with.

However, if you do a site visit during an open house and find that the house is affected by erosion but the land around it is what you call sturdy, then you can possibly assume that you do have a problem with the house.

In such instances, get a surveyor to conduct a thorough investigation and report on it. Then quickly hire an contractor to quickly go about his repair work. The longer you delay your repairs, the more damage you will encounter. And thus, the higher repair bills you will incur.

You don’t need me to advise you what to do when you find the land around it eroding, do you? RUN.

Fierce and angry rainfalls

I guess if you have ever encountered heavy rain while visiting the beach, you will know how crazy they can get compared to what you get in the city. (unless you are talking about a coastal city of course…)

When you combine strong winds with water and salt, you get what I call the perfect storm for homeowners.

This essentially means that whenever there is a storm, your house gets clobbered by powerful seawater. If you don’t know, seawater has a higher density than freshwater. This makes every punch it throws at the walls of your house even heavier than the average raindrop.

You can expect paints to peel frequently needing you to make that lonely drive to the hardware store for supplies.

And this is only the exterior walls we are talking about. We have yet to even mention the splattering of rain into your home when you leave the windows and doors open. Don’t forget about what is left behind when seawater evaporates.

You might be wondering why you you had the bright idea to buy a coastal home in the first place after you experience your first storm by the sea. You have become a farmer who is unknowingly harvesting salt on the rooftop…

Finally, is the location at risk of facing the fury of typhoons, hurricanes… and even tsunamis?

Sand storms

I’ve mentioned the water and salt that comes with the wind. I haven’t forgot about the sand.

Surely you could see this coming?

How does the idea of having your house constantly wiped with sandpaper sound?

That is exactly what will happen if you invest in coastal real estate. And I’m pretty sure an agent marketing a unit to you will leave out this MINOR detail.

Expect your window panes to be scratched regularly and become translucent instead of transparent. Your doors will get “smoothed out” too.

Practically speaking, you could minimize the exposure to the sand by building roller shutters to protect them. But it will be impractical to deprive yourself of the nice view which could be a big reason why you bought a waterfront property in the first place.

What an ironic decision you have to make!

High humidity

It will always be damp… and there could be long periods where you can never get anything to dry out.

Coupled with the continuous beatings from the rain, it is almost inevitable that water will seep into the walls… which then moves into other areas of the house.

You sofa might never get rid of that wet feeling. Your table tops might always feel wet even when dry. Even your bedsheets might have to be washed twice as frequently as you used to do it.

That is just the good news.

The bad news is that if you don’t take proper measures against humidity, mould could find the house a perfect place to call… home. The problem explodes if the mould is the toxic kind that loves to spread it’s spores around. Urgh…

Another problem you can anticipate due to humidity is the pace at which things, especially metal corrode (rust).

Granted. Corrosion issues can be prevented and minimized if you set up your stuff with prevention in mind. But still, be prepared to do more maintenance works and replacements than what you are used to.

Health

I haven’t gone about looking for medical research studies on how living near the sea can impact health.

However, a part of me instinctively thinks that constantly breathing in high humidified air that contains salt and fine sand will have a negative impact on our bodies.

Again, I have not looked into verified reports on the effects on human life.

Lastly

It’s not my intention to scare you into a lifetime of fear. All these problems can be managed as long as you are not a perfectionist, and willing to spend money for maintenance. Hey, millions of people live near the sea all over the world. Surely that would not be the case if these places are unlivable.

But if you are seriously considering buying or investing in coastal real estate, you should be aware of the challenges that await you. Promoters often leave out these things when trying to sell you some of them (sometimes disguised as vacation homes) with a scripted sales pitch.



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