Buying a home is typically a fairly complicated and lengthy process from initial house hunting to closing. But when you throw “beachfront” into the mix, things get even more complex.
Certainly, the general homebuying principles still apply. There are, however, some special considerations when it comes to coastal Orange County, CA, beachfront properties.
That’s exactly why we’ve put together these beachfront homebuying tips for coastal Orange County. So let’s get started . . .
First Things First
Before you get to the actual home search and certainly before you plunge into the buying process, you need to think carefully about a few things, So let’s take a look at the preliminary considerations for homebuyers in coastal Orange County.
Want-to-Have and Must-Have Features
As a coastal Orange County homebuyer, you need to get clear on what you have to have and what you’d merely like to have when it comes to features in your beachfront home.
“While it’s good to retain some flexibility in this list, you’re making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life; you deserve to have that purchase fit both your needs and wants as closely as possible. Your list should include basic desires, like neighborhood and size, all the way down to smaller details like bathroom layout and a kitchen that comes with trustworthy appliances.”
You also need to find out exactly how much your lender is willing to lend you. Knowing exactly what you have to spend on a home will save tons of time and effort because you will know what kind of homes, where, and in what price range to shop for.
Getting pre-approved will let you know how much you can borrow. And it will also give you more negotiating leverage because you’ll be perceived as a serious buyer.
When buying a home, you’ll need some cash in reserve, especially for buying a beachfront home in coastal Orange County. There’s the down payment (anywhere from 3.5% to 20% of the purchase price) and closing costs, among other upfront, one-off expenses. Are you ready for these expenses?
A Good Local Agent
We’d be remiss with our homebuying tips if we didn’t mention the benefits of using a local real estate agent who knows the local market well. These benefits include:
- Helping locate homes that actually meet your needs and within your price range
- Meeting with you to view homes
- Negotiating the best deal possible
- Making counteroffers and getting concessions
- Protecting you from being taken advantage of
- Assisting with the completion of the mountain of paperwork
- Guiding you through the whole complex process
Coastal Orange County Homebuying Tips
Now we come to the homebuying tips tailored especially for people buying coastal Orange County beachfront properties . . .
Start on Your Mortgage Early
We mentioned pre-approval, and, certainly, that’s important, but it’s also important to start on this early.
“No matter how well qualified you may be, look into loans early. Since many waterfront properties are more expensive than other properties, loans will often fall into special jumbo categories. . . . [Often] affluent buyers wait for weeks to get their pre-approval. When you don’t fit in the standard box, loans simply take more time. Furthermore, not all lenders can lend on Orange County waterfront homes.”
Be sure, then, to “start the loan process as early as possible.”
Consider Your Lifestyle Needs and Wants
Not all beachfront properties are created equal.
There are, in fact, huge differences, including lifestyle differences, between the various coastal Orange County communities. For example, “[i]n Laguna Beach you may enjoy stunning views of clear blue water and whales, but have no direct access to the beach. In Newport you may live on the sand, but the amount of water in your view is really only a couple of inches.”
It’s important, then, to think carefully about your priorities and lifestyle and then find a beachfront home that’s truly a good fit.
Look into Government Restrictions
Before buying a beachfront property, you need to find out exactly what you can and can’t do with the property.
If, for example, “you want to dock a large boat in front of your Newport Harbor home, or make any changes to your Laguna Beach waterfront property, such as adding a dock or a seawall, start this process early to ensure that these alterations will be possible.” It may turn out that some properties have pretty severe restrictions owing to the rules of local government and those of the California Coastal Commission. And be sure to check into what activities are allowed on the water – some areas restrict fishing and others certain watercraft.
Basically, don’t “commit to purchasing a multi-million dollar home without knowing that you can really do what you want to make it your own.”
Check HOA Regulations
Many coastal Orange County beachfront homes are not in an HOA, but many others are. Do you want the freedoms that come only outside an HOA, or would you prefer the HOA benefits (along with the restrictions)?
“There are still quite a few oceanfront communities that do have an HOA, including: all condo communities, Emerald Bay, Three Arch Bay, Irvine Cove, Balboa Coves, Camino Shores, and Lido Island. Get to know your responsibilities as a waterfront homeowner. If you’re part of a homeowners association, find out what kind of upkeep and maintenance of the property will be required from you by reviewing the conditions, covenants and restrictions, or CC&Rs, and talking to the HOA’s management company.”
Use an Agent Who Specializes
What should be apparent by now is that you don’t want a run-of the mill, generalist real estate agent when buying a beachfront home in coastal Orange County. You need, instead, a local agent who specializes in these kinds of properties.
Your best bet is an agent who’s a true beachfront specialist. The generalist Orange County agent won’t have the detailed knowledge of beachfront properties to help you find the best home for your needs.
But a local agent who specializes in coastal Orange County beachfront properties will.