A slowly improving housing market means more and more houses along the coast are selling—and their prices are going up. Is now the right time to buy a house at the beach?
Happy news for homeowners on the coast: The seaside real estate market is on the upswing, with increases in home sales and significant price appreciation in beach towns across the country.
Recent reports from Fortune, the National Association of Realtors, and others point to a slow recovery (but a recovery nonetheless). Combine that with October’s rise in existing home sales (the highest annualized pace in almost 10 years), and the national housing market looks like it’s finally beginning to bounce back from the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it is raising interest rates for only the second time since 2006—a good sign for economic recovery. Fortunately, this isn’t expected to cause an increase in mortgage rates, at least for now.
As the housing market improves nationwide, coastal markets are getting a serious boost.
Take Key West, a market that has seen an astonishing 71 percent increase year over year in the median sale price for single-family homes. Brenda Donnelly, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Knight & Gardner Realty based in Key West, said she was busy with house sales in the island’s Historic Old Town all summer—unusual for Key West, a snowbird destination that enjoys a busy winter but is typically slower during summer. “We’re almost back to where we were before,” she said, referring to the number of sales she’s made over the last few months.
Coastal markets across the country are experiencing home price appreciation more quickly than other regions, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors. Yun specifically mentioned the increasing strength of markets in Florida, the coastal Carolinas, the West Coast, and northeastern areas like Boston, Maine, and Connecticut.
Feeling inspired to buy? Below, eight coastal markets on the rise, plus gorgeous houses for sale now.
Across the sunshine state, prices are up 11.7 percent statewide for single-family homes to a median sale price of $220,000, according to Florida Realtors. While sales across the state are down, they’re rising quickly in certain coastal markets.
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin
The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Gulf escapes such as Seaside, Alys Beach, Ft. Walton Beach, and Destin, is one of these regions: Sales there are up 7.8 percent. The median sale price there for single-family homes in October 2016 was $246,489, which has risen 15.7 percent year over year. Last year, the median sale price in the area was $213,000; five years ago, it was $184,200.
In Destin, this charming beach home enjoys stunning ocean views and has six bedrooms and four baths. It was last sold in 2013 for $685,000, according to Zillow—the current asking price marks a 45 percent increase. Listing price: $998,000; image courtesy of BHGRE Emerald Coast
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach MSA, the median sale price for single-family homes is up 11.7 percent year over year to $315,000, still below Miami’s 2006 peak of $356,000. Sales are down in this region year over year, but as prices continue to rise and Miami maintains its reputation as an international hotspot, that trend could easily reverse.
This contemporary 3-bedroom, 3-bath house in Miami’s historic Morningside neighborhood is just blocks from the water. It was last sold in 2014 for $555,000, according to Zillow, and—following a major renovation—is now on the market with a 62 percent increase in price. Listing price: $899,900; image courtesy of Coldwell Banker Homes
In Key West and the Lower Keys, the Key West Board of Realtors Association cites even greater growth in prices. The median sale price for single-family homes in October 2016 was $769,500, up 71 percent year over year and up 33.1 percent from five years ago. The Lower Keys—which stretch from Seven Mile Bridge to Sunshine Key—are enjoying similar price growth of 47.5 percent year over year, with a median sale price for single-family homes of $660,000.
This house on Stock Island overlooks the Key West Golf Club course and has three bedrooms and two and a half baths. According to Zillow, it sold for $529,000 in 2012; its current asking price is 35.9 percent higher. Listing price: $719,000; image courtesy of Island Homes Key West
North Carolina’s Brunswick County, which includes Sunset Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, and Bald Head Island, is enjoying an even healthier market turn. Sales of existing homes are rising quickly, up almost 47 percent from October 2015 to October 2016, according to the North Carolina Association of Realtors. The average home price—an alternative measure to median sale price that takes all sales, even those of particularly high-end properties that aren’t necessarily representative of an area’s typical home price—is rising less quickly, but rising nonetheless, up 7 percent year over year to $258,140.
In seaside Southport, this expansive home boasts four bedrooms and three and a half baths. It has generous outdoor living space, with front and back porches and a swimming pool. Listing price: $899,000; image courtesy of Southport Realty
According to the Maine Association of Realtors, sales of single-family homes in the state were up 5 percent year over year as of October; prices are also on the rise, up 2.67 percent year over year to a median sale price of $192,500. York County, Maine, which includes Kennebunkport and Ogunquit, had a 2015 median sale price of $226,000, up 5.1 percent year over year and up 7.1 percent since 2010. Sale numbers are also growing quickly, with an increase of 11.1 percent year over year from 2014 to 2015.
This stately house sits within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of Kennebunk and has five bedrooms and five full bathrooms. Listing price: $850,000; image courtesy of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty
In California, sales across the state in October 2016 were up almost 8 percent year over year, according to the California Association of Realtors.
Sun-soaked Orange County—which boasts hotspots like Laguna, Newport, and Huntington Beaches—is enjoying even more of a boost. Sales in the county are up 8.1 percent year over year, with a median sale price for existing single-family homes of $750,000, up 7.1 percent year over year and up 1.5 percent from September 2016.
This stunning retreat in San Clemente enjoys ocean views and a short trip to the beach; it also boasts four bedrooms and two and a half baths. Last sold in 2010, according to Zillow, it’s currently on the market at a 79 percent increase in price thanks to recent updates and rising home value in the area. Listing price: $1,295,000; image courtesy of Keller Williams Realty
San Mateo County
In San Mateo County, which abuts the San Francisco Bay Area and includes Half Moon Bay and Pescadero, prices—and sales—are rising quickly. The median sale price of existing single-family homes in October was $1.35 million, up 13.5 percent year over year according to the California Association of Realtors. Sales are up 9.3 percent year over year, with a 6.6 percent jump from September.
This Spanish-style home in San Bruno has four bedrooms and three baths, and it’s only about a 10-minute drive from the water. It was last purchased in 2004 for $891,000, according to Zillow, and the current asking price marks a 45.8 percent surge in price. Listing price: $1,299,000; image courtesy of Green Banker Realty
In Hawaii, sales across all the islands have been rising since 2009, with a 5.85 percent increase from 2014 to 2015 (2016 statistics were unavailable), according to the Hawaii Association of Realtors. On Oahu, the most populous island, the median sale price for single-family homes was $697,533 in 2015, up 3.25 percent year over year and up 17.14 percent since 2010. Prices are rising even more quickly on the less populated islands, such as Kauai, where the median sale price for 2015 was $636,667. This is up 16.35 percent year over year and up 28.93 percent since 2010.
This luxurious home in the Koloa community on Kauai has four bedrooms and four and a half baths—and two spectacular outdoor seating areas. Listing price: $3,897,000; image courtesy of RE/MAX Kauai Living Poipu
If these markets catch your eye, you might want to act now—prices may only go up from here.