Zillow Map of States e1506220472915

Buying a beach house: Finding our Beach4 min read

Buying a beach house: Finding our Beach

In my last post, Buying a beach house: Understanding the Numbers, I described how we went from vacationing on the beach, to desiring and looking for an ocean front beach house of our own. Many years of looking resulted in many years of frustration. In part two, Buying a beach house: Finding our Beach, I’ll tell you the story of how I scoured the whole east coast looking for the right deal.

Ultimately, we found the beach and the ocean front home for us. Here is part two of our story.

Get Serious!

For almost 10 years we waited until we were already on vacation at the beach to start looking at houses. I don’t think either of us were willing to admit that we ACTUALLY wanted a beach house. We both knew that when we got to the beach we would probably go look at houses. We just didn’t talk about it. As a matter of fact sometimes my wife would even say “I don’t want to spend the whole trip looking at houses. Let’s enjoy the vacation”. But, we got there, got the fever, and looked anyway – every single year.

In 2016 I did it differently. I got serious. If we were going to actually buy a beach house we needed to see where a deal was most likely to be had. We had to see if there was some beach front loophole to be found. Places like Isle of Palms, SC were obviously way out of the question as they were way too expensive. There had to be something not as “fancy” somewhere that was affordable. Somewhere, something had to make sense. The numbers had to pencil.

In January of 2016, two months before our typical vacation, I jumped on the Zillow app every night while watching TV and started looking for deals. I looked at every house on Folly, Isle of Palms, and everything north and south of there. I just couldn’t ever find anything that made sense!!

Getting Crazy

I thought to myself, “Do I give up looking? Do we have to accept the fact that if we ever buy a beach house it’s going to be $1.2M, the summer rent won’t do more than cover taxes and insurance, and that’s just the way it is? Or, is there a deal out there somewhere?”. I refused to believe there wasn’t a deal to be had.

So I got crazy and started looking up and down the coast. I looked from the top of NC all the way down and around Florida. In the gulf I looked from Florida to Alabama, Louisiana, and even Texas. If there was a deal to be had I was going to find it. I was on a mission. There had to be a way!

I would zoom out, scoot down the coast a bit, zoom in, and look for areas with ocean frontage. Then I’d zoom in to the street level and move up or down the beach looking at every listing. I bet I looked at EVERY ocean front home listed for sale in the southeast! From the top of North Carolina down to Daytona, FL, then jumping over to the gulf from Cedar Key, FL to Gulfport, MS.

Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal

Alligator Point, FL

I found this little place in Florida called Alligator Point. It was about an hour south of Tallahassee in the Gulf. It was a good 15 minutes from the nearest IGA grocery store, and an hour to “civilization”. But, there were some ocean front homes there for 300-400k. Now we’re talking!

Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal. Alligator Point, FL

I found a house that seemed like a steal but there was a snag – it had a giant retaining wall around it. It was literally IN the ocean at high tide.

Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal. Alligator Point, FL

(The image below is at LOW tide).

Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal. Alligator Point In the Ocean

A time to Learn

I learned a lot about retaining walls and the OCRM lines and building permits and what a “buildable” vs “non-buildable” lot is while looking into that house. I ultimately found out that the government basically abandoned the area from a renourishment perspective, which meant the whole area was at permanent risk.

Many of the other homes in the area were not quite as bad but still weren’t great. It seemed like a matter of time before they were all part of the gulf. Add to that the fact that it was an 8 hour drive from our house, plus it was in the middle of nowhere – no thanks. But, I learned a lot in the process so at least there’s value in that.

I took a look at a satellite view and one of the main roads has since been washed out and closed.

Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal. Alligator Drive Washed Out

A change of plans

After looking up and down the bulk of the eastern seaboard I decided that there was nothing worth having for less than around $800,000. Either it was falling in the ocean, was a 29,000 hour drive from home, or both. I then started being more reasonable in my search, although with much less hope that anything would make financial sense.

In the next post, Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal, I’ll show you where we landed and give the financial details of the deal we made.

Happy hunting!

Craig McSandyToes


2 thoughts on “Buying a beach house: Finding our Beach<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">4</span> min read</span>”

  1. Pingback: Buying a beach house: Understanding the Numbers - Craig Haynie.

  2. Pingback: Buying a beach house: Closing the Deal - Craig Haynie.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *