Summertime is behind us, but for buyers who can't get enough sun, buying a permanent (or vacation) home in a beach town could be a ticket to year-round summer living. There are a handful of coastal towns with price tags too good for buyers to walk away from, and expanding to those areas could be a smart move for builders as well.
Lower demand equates to lower price, and lower land development costs in these hidden gems could allow builders to more easily produce affordable entry-level homes that are in short supply. And while these markets may be under the radar now, affordable prices and small town charm could put them on the map for people nearby looking for a weekend getaway, or Snowbirds that are lured to mild winter weather and lower living costs.
Using median new home price data from Metrostudy during the second quarter of 2016 (the latest quarterly data available), we've pinpointed affordable and livable beach towns that are within reach of first-time or entry-level buyers. To narrow our pool, we've combed data from every coastal state and selected MSAs only by the sea. The 15 markets visualized in our bubble chart below are ranked by lowest to highest price:
Aside from Tampa, Fla., the majority of markets in our list reported less than 500 new home closings in 2Q2016, indicating there are openings for builders to enter the market. In fact, being a tad under-the-radar keeps these locations away from soaring land and living costs. The median closing price for new single-family homes in all of the markets above is lower than $300,000, a steal compared to the exorbitant price tag for homes in popular beachside markets like Miami and Los Angeles.
Nevertheless, difference does take place even within these 15 markets. The state of Florida comes in ahead in terms of the number of affordable beachside markets, taking seven of the 15 slots in our list. Following behind are Texas and Georgia, each having two markets making our rank. Other states appeared on our list are North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Delaware.
The most affordable market on our list, Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, is located close to the border and the Gulf of Mexico, and the median price for a new, single-family home is $140,000. That is a very affordable price given the recent rapid technology growth in Brownsville led by the SpaceX South Texas Launch Site, which is expected to draw $85 million in capital investment when finished, according to a USA Today report.
On the other end of the list is Wilmington, N.C. along the East Coast in which a median new-built single-family home could cost somewhere around $290,000. Boasting its diverse industrial base including healthcare, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications, Wilmington is also home to a number of schools and higher-education institutions, another reason for many people to jump into its property market.
There are many other mid-range markets with median new home prices falling between $200,000 and 280,000. These include several well-known tourist destinations like New Orleans, La., and Charleston, S.C. See the complete list of the top 15 affordable beach town markets in the table below.