Everyone dreams of owning a beach house. Whether you want to live there year-round or are seeking a fun place to spend your summers, living by the beach can be a wonderful but serious investment. Many homes in Wrightsville, Kure Beach, and Carolina Beach are already on the market this spring. We’ve pooled our expertise and come up with Network Real Estate’s seven tips for shopping for a beach house, which will provide you with helpful information before making an offer.

1) Work with a local Realtor. Reading listings for beach homes makes it seem easy to go it alone, but trust me, a local Realtor is a highly valuable resource when shopping for a home, particularly near the beach. A good Realtor will be able to provide valuable information about the area, including the weather and housing trends. Your Realtor will serve as your go-to guide for every step of the process.

2) Inspect homes for sea and storm damage. It’s highly recommended that you hire a home inspector for this, although there are certain red flags you can spot on your own if you know where to look. Check the roof for missing shingles or dark spots resulting from hail damage. Check the gutters for dents and cracks. Inspect the home’s exterior for small dents, chips, and discoloration in the home’s exterior. Verify that the window panes and frames are not damaged. These things can indicate storm damage, which may be a further indicator of water damage, which can jeopardize the structural integrity of the house as a whole.

3) Hire a land surveyor. This is particularly important for beach and waterfront property. I’m sure you would hate to invest in your dream beach home only to find that the surrounding land is unstable or that the tides are too high.

4) Check the lawn. An abundance of trees, grass and plant life indicates that the surrounding earth is healthy and drains properly, even in sandy areas. If the lawn is conspicuously new and recently placed, it could be an indicator that the seller is trying to hide something. An overly saturated lawn can also indicate the potential for water damage.

5) Research each neighborhood, and get to know the neighbors. This is a great way to decide whether a particular place would be a good fit for the lifestyle you’d like to have at the beach. Introduce yourself to several neighbors and try to get a feel for the community. Is the neighborhood kid friendly? Are there good restaurants and nightlife nearby? How quiet is it? Make sure your lifestyle aligns with the community.

6) Don’t worry (too much) about the décor. If the current homeowner decorates with more seashells and wicker furniture than you’d like, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Imagine the space in terms of the windows, ceilings and floors, and try to envision how your decorating will change the space. You’d be surprised at just how much a coat of paint and new furniture can transform the look and feel of the home.

7) Remember that new doesn’t always equal better. Many homes, particularly near the beach, are not brand new but it can be an indicator of a strong structure and proper maintenance. Conversely, brand new homes that were built quickly may not be built to last. Your Realtor and home inspector can give you structural information about the house beyond what you can see with your eyes.

Now that you are armed with knowledge, you can officially start shopping for your dream beach home. Feel free to browse our listings in Wrightsville, Kure Beach and Carolina Beach, or contact one of our qualified Realtors today.