4 Issues To Understand When Buying Oceanfront Real Estate

Oceanfront real estate is one of the most challenging sections of the market to deal with as a buyer. When looking at oceanfront real estate for sale, there are all the standard concerns that come with buying houses and land, from making sure the roof is in good shape to knowing what the tax assessment will be. There are, however, many issues that are unique to buying along the coast. As a buyer, keep an eye out for these four things.

Private Property Rights vs. Public Use

Every region has its view of how beaches are to be used in terms of private property rights in potential conflict with public use of the shoreline. Most regions offer some form of easement that allows people to use portions of the beach at a defined distance from the shore to pass through on foot. Depending on the region's culture, there may also be public use rights on the property for activities like fishing and swimming.

Some people find this to have a neighborly charm, but others will see it as a violation of their space. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, you'll want to know just how private your private property is going to be before you buy oceanfront real estate.


Even in regions where land is coming up out of the ocean, there are spots where wave- and wind-action erosion are going to reshape the shoreline. It's a good idea to check the county register's maps and see how the shoreline has changed over the years. This will give you a good sense of what forces are driving erosion and the types of engineering challenges you'll face.

Storms and Flooding

The best way to get a sense of what the flooding and storm risks on a property are is to talk with the neighbors. Try to find the oldest folks who've been in the area the longest because they're the ones who can tell you about the past hurricanes and the snowstorms. They'll also be able to tell you whose property was wrecked and which houses were completely unscathed.

Tourists vs. Locals

Most oceanfront real estate is located near tourist areas. Depending on your appetite for dealing with new people showing up every week during vacation season, this could be a plus or a minus. Still, you'll want to know what you're getting into in terms of how many houses around yours will be permanently occupied versus weekly rentals.

For more information about oceanfront real estate, talk to a real estate agent.

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