florida beachfront condo

12 Replies

Hi all
My wife and I are considering buying a condo in florida and wanted your advice. Here's some info to get started:

we live in Maine
we would want to be able to rent it out by the week obviously, so no restrictions.
MUST be oceanfront - this thing might not cash flow, but I'd like it to be very desirable and I keep reading that one should buy the best you can afford (as in oceanfront) simply because they tend to hold value, appreciate, etc.
I like east coast, but either would be acceptable.
MUST be reliably warm. I've heard upper west coast (pan handle etc, sarasota) is great and has some of best beaches in world but can be cold in winter, and this would obviously be a 'toss of the dice' for renting it out.
Price: like to stay under 200k

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

I'll be curious what replies you get. I'm not sure this exists, even without the price limit. Even Ft Myers and Miami have average highs in mid winter only in the 70's and lows down in the 60's. That means colder temps are entirely possible. That said, winter is certainly peak season, so even if temps aren't exactly warm, I think you'll get it rented.

Under $200K in Miami Beach is possible. We went there in May and have been looking on-and-off since before the trip. Not sure its truly tropical in mid winter, but I am sure its warmer than Denver and a heck of a lot less snow. At under $200K you're probably not looking at a beach front unit. In a beach front property might be possible, especially some of the dumpier ones.

You want an oceanfront for under $200K in an area that can be considered reliably warm? I don't think you'll find it, unless you get very lucky. Hire a realtor and have them do the leg work, you might find something. I think you should consider the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral/Naples area and think of buying a house instead of a condo, you can probably get a house with a pool for that price and you can probably get it to cashflow. As far as appreciation, I don't buy that part about oceanfront holding their value better, plus you're going to get killed on the insurance. Also, if you're flexible on the price point, check out Sanibel and Captiva Island area, oceanfront premium properties, rented almost 40 wk/year.

Be aware that oceanfront condos can have very high maintenance fees. I have several rental condos in Ft. Lauderdale, and average fees for non beachfront condos are around $300 a month.

Friends of ours own a high rise condo with water views (not ocean front but close) and maintenance is $750 a month. I checked out a waterfront high rise in Hollywood, FL recently, maintenance fees were about the same. Many of those buildings have rental restrictions as well, with minimum rental periods not to exceed a certain number per year.

The last 2 winters had cold snaps in Ft. Lauderdale, and my tenants used the heat. They thought it was freezing at 65 degrees :)

Based on the few replies so far, I'm starting to "thoughtfully rub my chin" on the idea of a SFH. We actually have an associate up here in town who just bought a SFH in coral gables, and i know the prices are pretty beat down there. I had actually heard the PAN HANDLE cold get really cold sometimes, and put downward pressure on seasonal rents, so I guess going above alligator alley isn't so bad after all. Also, getting more "normal" vs. "sub tropical" we could go down in May or September wihtout our Maine blood boiling in our veins! Thanks much. This sort of back and forth really helps. Being a landlord, I'm not too intimidated with the thought of finding a handy man / manager who can take care of the place... I always wanted to experience the THRILL OF absentee landlording!! haha.

Imo itd be very costly and hard to do weekly sfr rentals as an absentee owner., between every rental the property has to be cleaned, and what would be done if anyone ever damaged the property during that week, and you already have it rented out next week? You could almost never rent it out consecutively imo. Hope Rich Weese chimes in as I know he has some beach front cancun condos.. I believe his is more like a condo hotel where they take care of everything. Just providing sheets, towels, and cleaning those, vaccuming, and key issues, all very regular required items would take lots of hands on, requiring someone very dependable, which.probablly means costly. What would you do if your check out was around noon and check in at 4 of that same day and they over slept, or stayed late, or your make ready person flakes, car doesnt start,ect? Im just more interested in your answers then bashing your idea, interested in this myself just have thought up a million problems!!! Maybe you can figure this out for us both, ive been looking at cheap, but tiny, condos on the water in corpus christy tx.

Based on my experience with vacation rentals, good rentals in hot locations are almost always rented out back to back. The ones I've rented have either had a local agent who managed the property or the owner was local. I did have something go wrong one time (sewer problems) and the local agent had someone out there fixing it later in the day.

Now, I do think its pretty expensive to have an agent dealing with these weekly rentals. Much more than the 10% regular property managers charge. But there's a lot more leg work with all the turnover and cleanings. And the rents are much higher. On that FL trip we did four nights in a condo at about $250 a night, which would equate to $7500 a month if it was rented all the time. We were there in May, which is the very tail end of the peak season, and it was booked for almost every night that month. July and August, definately off season, look to be about 50% booked.

I'd recommend getting onto VRBO.com and checking out what's available in the areas you're considering. You'll also get an idea of the local property managers, since many of the units are managed by the same companies.

Originally posted by Aly L:
Be aware that oceanfront condos can have very high maintenance fees. I have several rental condos in Ft. Lauderdale, and average fees for non beachfront condos are around $300 a month.

Is that because of the wear and tear from the salt/sand on the building?

I would also think that you'd get stuck insuring through Citizen's for anything on the water and that would hurt the cash flow, even if the condo dues covers part of the insurance.

Thank you everyone. This is some great food for thought. Regardless of which way I go it's a risk cash flow wise, but we didn't really consider the idea for cash flow, but for a place to go without having to do too much planning. We most likely would NOT retire there as we plan to travel and 'camp out' in many different international locales in just a few years so simply renting from redweek or vrbo may be a wiser move.

Every time I look down this road, Ken, I end up at the same conclusion. Better to just rent something, even if for a few weeks or a month.

Bienes, it party due to higher upkeep costs, higher insurance, 24 hour security, and amenities. It also covers those that aren't paying, i.e., units in foreclosure.

First you need to determine East or West coast of Florida. They are 2 different places. The condo market in Dade has lots of blood in the water. We are in mop up phase in Lee and Collier county for the lower price points

Originally posted by Jon Holdman:
Every time I look down this road, Ken, I end up at the same conclusion. Better to just rent something, even if for a few weeks or a month.

Kenneth -

I have to agree with Jon on this point.My brother lives in Boca Raton and I spend an inordinate amount of time for business near San Diego and Manhattan Beach in California and we simply have never been able to make sense of owning a property in either location for split rental and getaways. There are so many properties for rent in each area that we have done long-term rentals (monthly) and come out way ahead of where we would be owning.