For the most part, beach properties have held up pretty well since the property bubble for residential real estate burst in the United States between 2007 and 2009. Based on Zillow.com's affordability index, which measures the price of property in a city and compares it to the annual income levels of its residents, property remains firmly depressed in many beach towns. Below is an overview of some of the more affordable locales these days.
Though officially slightly inland from the beach town of Clearwater, Fla., as well as Tampa Bay, Fla. and St. Petersburg, Fla., the short drive may be worth it as Lakeland, Fla. is currently one of the most affordable home markets in the country. The low range of its historical price to income ratio is more than 40% below its historical norms. A perusal of the available real estate in the city shows a number of properties for well below six figures. Orlando, Fla., which is slightly east, also has a high number of affordable and beaten-down houses for sale following the bursting of the housing bubble.
Situated right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville, Fla. is also among the most affordable real estate markets in the United States right now. Its affordability index is right around 40% below its historical average. Houses right on, or very close to, the waterfront are currently listed for around $100,000, with some going for less. New homes are also an option, thanks to plenty of remaining real estate available for building.
Fort Myers, Fla.
Sticking in Florida may be the best strategy for snagging an affordable beach property. Fort Myers, Fla. has a reputation for some of the worst hit real estate as a result of the housing bubble. The affordability index is similar to that of Jacksonville, Fla. at just below 40% its historical average. Homes right on the waterfront currently list for a couple of hundred thousand or more, but there are still deals to be had and cheaper homes slightly inland. Sanibel Island, Fla., which is just a short drive across the Causeway Boulevard, remains pricey with home prices closer to a cool million. A number of foreclosures still exist in the area.
Heading slightly west and tucked right into the Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile, Ala. is right around the national average with an affordability index 35% below its historical average. On an absolute level, very few houses are listed above six figures and that means a location right on the water could be very affordable. Highly motivated sellers are wanting to move a number of the properties.
San Diego, Calif.
Moving out west and to well above the national average, certain San Diego real estate is still 20% below its historical affordability index average. Smaller properties not far from the Pacific coast go for a couple of hundred thousand, which isn't that bad if being close to the beach is a high priority. A condo right on the beach is also currently going for less than $300,000, though it is only 638 square feet.
Combined with record low mortgage rates, a beach-front property is well within the reach of many U.S. citizens. Foreigners have also gotten in on the mix and have largely bought up the properties in international destinations such as Miami. Those with the funds could be sitting pretty in the next decade.