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The Complete Guide to Buying Florida Real Estate on the Gulf Coast

An aerial photo showing how the streets of St. Armand's form a circle. Streets jet out off the circle. One leads to Lonboat Key, one leads to Lido Key and one leads to downtown Sarasota.

Buying real estate on the Florida Gulf Coast might seem intimidating, but there are a few tips and tricks you can use to be successful. When you’re getting ready to buy a Florida home, here are the top things to keep in mind.

Why Buy Florida Real Estate?

1. Rising Economy & Hot Housing

Florida is a fantastic place to move for business or personal real estate with no personal income tax. Its economy is rising, and it’s projected to see a GDP growth of 2.8% throughout 2022. Longboat Key, in particular, was awarded 5th Best Island in the US, and it offers gorgeous beachfront property that’s in high demand.

Not only are jobs hot in the Sunshine State, but purchasing a home in Florida is also increasing. Right now, fixed mortgage rates are hovering over 4%.  In Longboat Key, low interest rates make this an opportune time to buy, while rising prices make it a good time to sell. Plus, everything you want to do will be close by. It’s also very close to Tampa.

2. Attractions for the Entire Family

On the Gulf Coast, Longboat Key, Florida, real estate is right in the middle of the excitement. Florida offers so much to do, from beautiful beaches to thrilling theme parks. You’ll be near amusement parks, the Kennedy Space Center. In Longboat, you’ll find plenty of fishing spots, boutiques, and places to rent boating equipment.

3. Top Universities

Along with exciting activities, Florida offers excellent colleges. Some of the best public universities in Florida include:

  • University of Florida: Number six nationally among public schools
  • University of Central Florida: Number 14 of the best online undergraduate programs
  • Florida State University: Number four among the best colleges for criminal justice in America

4. Retire in a Paradise

Per RetirementLiving, retirees in Florida account for 20.9% of the state’s population. Thanks to the state’s investment in senior-friendly activities and active living communities, Florida is a great place for retirement.

How to Choose a Gulf Coast Real Estate Agent

One of the best ways to find a Gulf Coast Realtor is to search your local Florida area for experienced agents on Zillow. You can look at their reviews and see past sales. You’ll also want to check out their websites and any other online testimonials left about them. It can also be helpful to look at how a Longboat Key Realtor responds to their reviews. Are they tactful and professional? Do they seem like they want to help make negative situations right?

When hiring a real estate agent, you’ll also want to look at several professionals. By talking with multiple agents, you can see several people’s strengths and weaknesses and find a good match for your personality and needs. Referrals and local reputation can certainly push you in a certain direction, but try to at least talk to three different agents. They’re applying to work with you, so be critical but fair.

Try asking some important questions, such as: 

  • How long have you been in real estate?
  • Are you more familiar with buying or selling?
  • What is your current client load?
  • Do you have a team?
  • What is your specialty?
  • What do you think you bring to my situation?
  • How will you find me the best home options?
  • Who are your references?

What are the Best Gulf Coast Communities to Buy a Home In?

Several wonderful Gulf Coast beach communities are available, and there are some fantastic Longboat Key homes for sale. If you’re looking for a waterfront or gated community on the Gulf Coast, there are numerous desirable neighborhoods to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the top options.

Conrad Beach

In Conrad Beach, the homes are known for their wraparound porches and scarcity. There are only 27 houses in the neighborhood, and it is a lovely, intimate community. The community board manages the properties, which means they’ll take care of everything from lawn care to pest control. Close to gorgeous white-sand beaches and the great dining  at Longbeach Village, you’ll love living in this laid-back community.

Country Club Shores

Houses in Country Club Shores start at $2M and feature a mix of modest homes with a few years under their belt to lavish  estate homes constructed in the past few years. Many of the houses are right on the water and offer deep canals for boating enthusiasts.

Lighthouse Point

Lighthouse Point is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Longboat Key. It’s on a peninsula, so incredible views are a given. It’s a gated community, so there is an advanced level of privacy and security. Longboat Key  has a population of roughly eight  thousand people, which provides a more intimate atmosphere than others. Lido Key Beach and Siesta Key Beach  Beach are very close, which means there’s a lot to see and do around the neighborhood.

If you’re looking for luxury condos in Longboat Key, these are some of the top options.

L’Ambiance

Behind the gates of the Longboat Key Club, L’Ambiance condos offer incredible views of the Gulf. There is private beach access and a private elevator for residents as well. It offers 136 residences with up to 5,170 square feet, and many include over 700 square feet of outdoor terrace space. There is also a tennis court, guest suites, a Gulf-front pool, and 24-hour concierge service.

En Provence

With six acres of beachfront and 21 residences, En Provence condos take luxury to the next level. At the south end of Longboat Key, the homes are more like private villas and offer spacious floor plans with up to 6,000 square feet. Inspired by the French Mediterranean, residents will get amenities like exclusive beach access, private pools, and two-car garages.

Tangerine Bay

Right next to Quick Point ature Preserve, Tangerine Bay is a great place to make a home. With a resort-style pool  featuring waterfalls, jogging paths, and a boat dock, it offers 90 condos up to 2,903 square feet. You’ll get lovely bay views, an oversized garage, and private entry. This development provides an attractive price point but includes several high-end amenities.

How Much Does a Florida Beach House Cost?

So, how much does a Gulf Coast house cost? Florida beach house prices can range quite a bit, and residences on the water are always more expensive than homes inland. s As of January 2022, a beach house in  Longboat Key, FL, has an approximate cost of $10M   An inland home in the same area has a median property cost of $1.4M. Interest rates for beach homes are also typically higher than with inland homes. 

However, beachfront properties can be a great investment when you manage them properly and consider renting them out during the colder times of the year. 

You’ll also want to keep home insurance in mind with beachfront property, as it can raise your monthly costs quite a bit. The reason for these higher rates is chiefly due to mandatory flood insurance. Hurricane damage and erosion make insurance companies nervous because of the increased likelihood of damage.

An annual premium of $10,000 or more for flood insurance is growing ever more expected for Florida beach homes. Compared to other coastal states, it’s not entirely different. California might be less expensive when it comes to insurance, but property prices are higher. It is comparable to the rest of the East Coast or a bit less.

The Best Tips for Buying Florida Beachfront Property on the Gulf Coast

  1. When it comes to buying Florida beachfront property on the Gulf Coast, the land may be more valuable than the house. It will depend on the current supply and demand. Overall, there are many waterfront properties in Florida, but not every home is on the market. Regardless, waterfront property is valuable no matter what type of structure has been built there. Occasionally, the land value to total property value ratio is much higher for waterfront properties.
  2. Making sure to choose a real estate agent proficient in buying waterfront property is crucial. Here in Longboat Key, that’s typically pretty easy to find. However, you still want your agent to know the ins and outs of beachfront property, boating properties, and expected challenges.
  3. Early in your search for waterfront homes, start checking out loans and interest rates. Most of these houses on the water will be categorized as a jumbo mortgage. Lenders only consider highly-qualified buyers. When you’re ready to go looking, have your financing under control and have your pre-approval in place before looking  at any homes.
  4. If you’re a boater, you’ll want to investigate the property’s guidelines and depths. Water depths and tides are essential elements to successfully enjoying a waterfront home in Florida. Are homeowners association rules you must follow? Are there boating regulations in your specific area? Are boats even allowed at the new house? Verify size requirements and depth at the new property to determine if it suits your boating needs.
  5. Suppose you want to make changes or additions to the waterfront property in Longboat Key that’s caught your eye. In that case, make sure you have an understanding of the FEMA 50% Rule. Double-check with any homeowners insurance or city requirements to be sure those changes are allowed. Adding a dock or a seawall requires permits as well as conditions from the city and potentially permission from the HOA. Activities such as swimming, motorized boating, or other watercraft use may also be restricted in the prospective community.

If you’re ready to begin exploring buying Gulf Coast Florida real estate, contact us today.

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