Karen Montgomery | Venice Real Estate, Casey Key Real Estate, Sarasota Real Estate

For many people, Florida is the ideal place to own a vacation home. With warm weather year-round and endless waterfront areas to choose from, there are a number of ways to score the perfect second home in the Sunshine State.

Furthermore, with the cost of real estate rising, owning a home in Florida could become an excellent investment and asset down the road. So, how do you get started with buying a Florida vacation home? Read on to find out.

1. Tour the state

A good way to get to know the diverse locations in the large state of Florida is to plan a vacation (or two) during which you travel some of the areas you’re considering.

Many people who buy vacation properties in Florida buy in the area that they’ve grown to love. And while that’s an excellent way to ensure you’ll love your home, you might be missing out on areas that you like even more.

3. What are you really looking for in a home?

Having priorities when home shopping is important, even if it’s your second home. If your top priority is to have a solid investment, then you might be okay if the house isn’t near your favorite golf course or restaurant.

However, if your home is all about having a place to relax, you might choose amenities over resale value.

2. Have a plan if you want to rent your home

Many people buy second homes in Florida as a way to earn income while they aren’t using the property. However, renting out a home comes with considerable responsibility. As a property manager, you’ll need to maintain the property and be available when something goes awry. Those expenses can add up easily.

Similarly, some communities have rules around renting out your property, so ensure you’re allowed to rent your property before closing on the house.

3. Don’t rush your purchase

You already have your own home, so you don’t need to worry about having a roof over your head. Wait it out and make sure you find the best home for the best price.

4. Learn the market

Home prices in Florida can vary drastically depending on location. Median prices in Miami Beach are around $500,000, whereas Sarasota prices hover around $270,000 or nearly half the cost.

5. Consider buying with others

If you want to buy a second home in Florida but are turned off by the prices, sharing the property could be a good alternative. However, just like renting an apartment with friends, difficulties can arise.

To avoid conflict or financial headaches, make sure you have an agreed upon plan for situations that might come up, such as:

  • Determining who gets the house during which weeks out of the year

  • Deciding how the costs will be split

  • Decide what will happen if someone wants out of the contract

6. Use an experienced agent

When you’re buying a house in an area you’re not familiar with, and where you can’t be at all times, it pays to have boots on the ground who you can trust. A real estate agent will be able to ensure things go smoothly for you so that your house is ready when you arrive to seal the deal. 

While there are a lot of variables to consider when searching for a Florida beach house, it's reassuring to know that the experience of living on the beach will most likely meet or exceed your expectations! More often than not, beach living IS everything it's cracked up to be! It's generally a goal that's well worth pursuing.

Naturally, you need to consider things like affordability, the amount of privacy you require, and proximity to stores and other conveniences. However, with a little persistence and the help of a seasoned real estate agent, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the variety of quality oceanfront properties that are available on the market.

The magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean is one of the main reasons thousands of home buyers are drawn to the Florida coastline, every year. Being able to look out at the rolling waves and sandy beach is a luxury many people aspire to. While there are plenty of multi-million dollar mansions situated on the Florida coast, you don't necessarily have to be wealthy to afford a nice home with beachfront access.

Although the element of luck sometimes plays a role in the success of real estate searches, it's much more important to have a clear mental picture of what you're looking for. When you've identified your requirements, a realistic price range, and your "wish list" items, your search will be much more focused, streamlined, and fruitful.

Besides the beautiful scenery and easy access to long walks on the beach, the allure of surfside living stems from a desire for luxury, comfort, and relaxation. When you combine the balmy ocean breezes and the laidback lifestyle that's often associated with living on or near the beach, it's easy to see why these features are on people's minds -- if not on their wish lists.

To make sure your beach home has all the attributes you need to be happy and comfortable, it's helpful to have a home buyer's checklist on hand when starting your search. As is the case with any real estate search, you need to be comfortable with the neighborhood, the monthly mortgage (and other) payments, the layout of the home, its architectural style, and the number of bathrooms and bedrooms. The size and functionality of the kitchen can also impact your satisfaction with the house. Other things to consider include commute times, local traffic conditions, and the availability of entertainment, recreation, and cultural attractions. If you're approaching retirement age, you might also want to be on the lookout for activities, services, and groups that cater to your interests, needs, and lifestyle goals.

Even when you do find your ideal Florida home, it's crucial to have the property inspected by a certified home inspector. It's important to make sure the "home of your dreams" does not turn out to be a proverbial "money pit" that can deprive you of the pleasure of home ownership. Knowing what you're buying can help you accurately plan your finances, anticipate home maintenance costs, and stay within the constraints of your household budget.