6 Things You Should Know about Buying Oceanfront Property

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. CA DRE #01490977

6 Things to Know about Buying Oceanfront Property


Oceanfront homes in CarlsbadOwning a home on the ocean is a dream for some buyers. But given the limited supply, and certainly the cost, an oceanfront home is not in the cards for many Carlsbad home buyers.


There are important things to consider when buying and owning an oceanfront home. This includes pros and cons to be aware of during the purchase process, as well as what to expect after you move in. These are in no particular order; some issues may matter more to you than others.


Read also:

10 essential things to know about buying a second home



oceanfront living is expensiveHigher prices go with the territory along the ocean. It’s common for oceanfront homes to run well into the 7 digits, and in some cases 8 figures, with price per square foot costs typically $1500/sf to over $3000/sf.


Right now there are several oceanfront homes for sale in Carlsbad, ranging from about $5.5 million to $29,950,000 (this is on par with oceanfront homes in Del Mar and La Jolla). Oceanfront homes from Oceanside south to La Jolla and Coronado can range from around $3,000,000 into the $20 millions.


Other costs to consider beside price include insurance, property taxes, and exterior maintenance of the property due to oceanfront living (weather, erosion), as well as improvements such as stairs to the beach, erosion control, or a sea wall. If you are buying a second home, or a larger home than your current property consider the cost of furnishing, utilities, and any remodeling you might want or need to do.


But if you have the budget, the costs are likely well worth the advantages you will enjoy with living by the ocean.



Beach front homes in CarlsbadBesides having wonderful views, there are no doubt features and amenities about an oceanfront home that are important to you and may either be “Nice to have’s” or requirements.


Given the limited supply of oceanfront homes the more flexible you can be the better, especially if you want to be in Carlsbad or another coastal community.


Obviously budget may be an important consideration in your search. If you are paying cash you may need to provide proof of funds or a letter from your banker to see certain homes; if you are getting a loan, a pre-approval will be important documentation of your financial capabilities.


There are town homes and condos, as well as single family detached homes, often with a big difference in pricing. You will want to consider which type of property best fits your lifestyle, and your budget.


Is having direct beach access important to you (e.g., private path or stairs)?

Is a property with a seawall important (keep in mind approvals for these may be difficult to obtain and costly)?

Do you want outdoor space for entertaining (e.g., decks, patios, outdoor kitchen, pool, spa, large yard)?

Is a gated/fenced property a must-have (including security beach access)?


You’ll also want to think about all the other features that may be important to you – size of the home, number of bedrooms and baths, main living areas, guest space, office space, kitchen and amenities, etc.



Weather can be a bit different at times along the ocean. Here in Carlsbad we get plenty of marine layer and occasional ground fog, and it’s not unusual for it to be more significant, and frequent, at your oceanfront home at certain times of the year.


Winter sunset in CarlsbadThe sun will be intense late in the day because you are facing west (true, too, of course, for non-oceanfront homes).


That can impact not only the temperature inside the house, but strong sunlight over time can do some pretty hefty damage, inside and out – fading rugs and furniture, for one, if you don’t have or use shades or have special window glass.


You can also expect more wind from the ocean, and during storms the winds can be significant. There is also more moisture, being on the ocean, which can create issues both inside and out, especially to exterior wood.



Insurance costs may be higher for oceanfront property due to the higher risk potential for damage to the house, erosion, and replacement costs. You will want to check on this early in your due diligence so there are no surprises, and make sure you obtain the coverage needed to protect your investment, including any flood insurance.



If you are using a loan for your purchase the lender will need to be satisfied with the amount of insurance you purchase.



California Coastal Commission signageIn addition to any approvals and permits needed for the City of Carlsbad, or other communities, in the areas close to and on the ocean, the Coastal Commission may need to approve certain improvements.


The California Coastal Commission is a state regulatory body with oversight of land use and public access in the coastal zone (see Carlsbad coastal zone map). Whether in the due diligence phase as a buyer, or as a homeowner, you may want to verify what can and cannot be done, what the process is, and how long approvals take.


Do not assume you can simply add stairs to the beach, create a large deck, or protect against erosion by adding a sea wall if one does not exist. Indeed some desired improvements might not be approved at all by the local government or the Commission. And if they are the costs could be extensive.



Carlsbad beach erosion winter 2016Erosion is a fact of life by the ocean due to winds, storms, and the sensitive nature of the bluffs, and sometimes even from humans climbing on the bluffs.


It’s not unusual to see erosion change the face of the bluffs, the width of the beach, and the vegetation along the ocean; some homes may be more prone to erosion issues than others because of their location and environmental conditions.


Be aware significant storms can cause dramatic changes along the ocean very quickly.


A geological or engineering study may have been done and on record, but if not it’s a prudent thing to have done in a bluff-top location during your due diligence process.



Private stairs to the beach in CarlsbadOf course the pros include living by the ocean, having easy access to the beach (your own stairs or path, or perhaps nearby public access), enjoying beautiful views of the ocean and sunsets, listening to the surf, enjoying the sea and bird life, and having a general feeling of relaxation many claim they experience by beach-front living and gazing at the water.


Are there downsides or trade-offs of oceanfront living? That depends on your personal perspective. Depending on the location of the house you may experience:


  •         traffic noise from commuters
  •         beachgoers walking, biking and driving along public roads nearby (e.g., the Coast Road)
  •         people accessing and using the beach in view of your house, especially in the summer and on weekends, which means more noise
  •         surfers parking nearby and accessing the beaches
  •         cars parked on public streets in front of the house


Please call me at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your needs and budget for your beach front home and get started on finding you the right property in 2018 that meets your requirements and desires.

Comments (43)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Jeff - a very smart post. Bookmarked. 

Mar 14, 2018 07:03 AM
MaryKay Shumway
The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948) - Sister Bay, WI
Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert

Jeff, this was like music to my ears and such a nice summary of our culture's waterfront lifestyle....but cut your prices by a third (if you're here), and so far we don't have earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons--have don't have the same kind of erosion the ocean gets.  What we do have are extreme highs and lows with our water table, and most of the other challenges are extremely similar between Carlsbad and the Door Peninsula's 300+ miles of shore.  Great post.

Mar 14, 2018 07:25 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

What an excellent post, buyers are sure to be helped by the specifics you mention and knowing the process you are a resource that they will be well advised to contact and use for obtaining that dream oceanview home.

Mar 14, 2018 09:10 AM
Jason Boone
Duke Warner Realty - Bend, OR
Principal Broker, CRIS, RENE, SRS, PSA

Wow, great information.  Thank you for sharing, I wish you the best of success.


Mar 14, 2018 12:04 PM
Alesha A. Wilson, M.Ed.
Buy and Sell Oklahoma LLC - Oklahoma City, OK
Buy and Sell Real Estate with Confidence

What a thorough post Jeff Dowler!  As I was reading, I imagined myself in the oceanfront property buyer's shoes - thrilled to come across your post.

Congratulations on the Feature!

Mar 14, 2018 02:02 PM
AJ Heidmann ~ CRS
McEnearney Associates, Inc. - Alexandria, VA
YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert

Jeff ~ A great and pretty exhaustive blog post about ocean front living in Carlsbad!  Anyone thinking about making one of these purchases would do well to give you a call...

Mar 14, 2018 02:17 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks for the compliment Debe Maxwell, CRS  Oceanfront property is a different animal for a number of reasons. There is something about the allure of seeing and hearing the ocean.


Mar 14, 2018 04:26 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks for the kind words Corey Martin  I think many people just decide that putting up with these issues to live on the ocean is worth it, provided you can afford it.


Mar 14, 2018 05:17 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

I hope that happens for you soon Sharon Tara  but I get it - the prices can be sky high!!

Hi Scott Godzyk  - yeah, you have really been pounded by the storms. It would be hard to see your house getting pummeled, or worse, in the bad weather.


Mar 14, 2018 05:19 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Patricia Feager 

What a nice thing to say.

The ocean air, salt and winds can really be tough on a house and you do have to plan for more ongoing maintenance, and prevention.


Mar 14, 2018 05:23 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Congratulations to him and to you Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® ! Oceanfront homes certainly do require some thought and due diligence before forging ahead. But it can all be worth it!!


Mar 14, 2018 05:34 PM
Susan Rupert
Kissinger Bigatel & Brower REALTORS - State College, PA

Jeff-thank you for the good information. My goal some day is to have a beach home close to the water and you bring up some good points to consider. Great article. Thanks again.


Mar 14, 2018 06:59 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Super comprehensive post - a must read from a broker who really knows his oceanfront properties.

Mar 15, 2018 05:25 AM
JL Boney, III
Coldwell Banker - Columbia, SC
Columbia, SC Real Estate

No lack of good info for buyers thinking about beach front property. I wouldn't know where to start. I know it's expensive and that the weather can get a little amplified, but I wouldn't know the first thing about permits or approval.

Mar 15, 2018 06:08 AM
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) www.Progressive-Realty.info - Boise, ID

Great read.  I will have to keep some of this in mind if I open an office in Florida.

Mar 15, 2018 09:39 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Reading this blog I could dream of buying oceanfront property!  Just like on TV! However I'd be happy with an ocean view condo.  Probably not going to happen though--can enjoy the beach through vacations.  An ocean view is something you would appreciate every single day

Mar 15, 2018 12:27 PM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

This is a great post for those who want an Ocean front home. A must read before they purchase.

The view comes with a price and with risks and the buyer should be prepared to deal with both.

Mar 16, 2018 05:44 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

We are a block behind the Ocean front homes . We don't have the view but being in the next block avoids some of the extremes.

Mar 16, 2018 06:54 AM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

There are many considerations when buying an ocean front property, yet, it depends on the location as to what those considerations might be, especially if it's a teardown or building from scratch and amount of discretionary funds that are available to complete.  A major concern would be the maintenance cost and the annual property tax assessment.  

Mar 17, 2018 04:44 PM
Dori Zamarripa
HomeSmart Realty Group - Naperville, IL
Naperville Real Estate Agent

How do lenders account for flood insurance on these type of properties?  I've had so many closings for townhomes that were close (but not directly on top) to rivers...that fell apart due to extreme home insurance premiums for the buyer.

Mar 18, 2018 04:57 PM