Home sales suggest these are the magic months to purchase a vacation home on the coast.

By Caroline McKenzie
March 20, 2017

Over the course of a decade, this getaway on the marsh in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, had seen it all: kids growing up, graduating, moving away, getting married, having kids of their own. But while things changed and evolved for the family who lived there, the house stayed the same.

"They bought it completely furnished 10 years ago, and they never touched a thing," says interior designer Liz Carroll, whom the homeowners brought on board to oversee a remodel after a simple consultation led to something else entirely. "I went over to help them pick a color for the new hardwood floors they wanted to install," she says. "But by the end of the walk-through, we had decided to start over from scratch."

So out went aged teal carpeting and dark green walls; in their place, Carroll installed warm hardwoods and paired crisp whites with bright hues for a fresh, modern look. Here's how color can bring a past-its-prime home back to prominence.

Photo: Richard Leo Johnson; Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson

As temperatures rise, buyers tend to have beach homes on the brain. (It’s only natural: all that sunshine leaves folks itching for a permanent dose of Vitamin Sea!) While potential purchasers will find the most inventory on the market during the spring and summer months, those seasons are not necessarily the best times to purchase a home in a coastal market.

So when is the best time to buy? A Trulia study that examined property searches across its entire site between 2011-2013 suggests that in most coastal markets you'll find the best deals during the months of September and October. That’s the time of year when you’re likely to hit the real estate sweet spot: a decent amount of remaining inventory with less competition, which yields better opportunities for negotiating a good deal.

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In particular, the study found that the states where search activity is the farthest below the annual average during September and October were Hawaii and Florida. Both of the prized coastal states fell more than 10% below normal. Also of note, among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, home searches saw the greatest declines in the Florida Gulf Coast (specifically, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers market and the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota market). Furthermore, if you fan out to the 500 largest U.S. metro areas, the biggest autumn market slowdown was seen in Florida vacation spots such as Key West and Marco Island.

Sure, those market downturns may sound like a real estate negative, but they can actually work your favor, especially if you’re looking for a deal. With less competition, impatient sellers looking to unload a property off their hands may be more willing to negotiate. The bottom line: if you can stifle your spring fever and hold out until fall, you just may get the beach house (and deal!) of your dreams.