Buying our second beachhouse

Las Brisas

Las Brisas

As we watched the financial situations of our country, our state, and our family unfold, we became much more convinced that beach property was the way to go in terms of building a secure and lasting retirement for our family. Maggie and I thought we’d talk through some of the things we wanted to accomplish in this blog.

Economic Reasons

When I saw others with vacation homes, I always thought they were frivolous investments, with little hope of outpacing other more traditional vehicles. As the prices have come down somewhat, and as it becomes more possible to manage your own home remotely, we’ve come to understand that in the right circumstances, a vacation home can become a strong investment, and one that we and our kids could enjoy. Here are some of the drivers.

Threats of inflation

As the economy deteriorates and our nation continues to print money, we feel that tangible assets, including real estate, can be an important hedge against inflation. As we age, with the stock market becoming increasingly volatile, we wanted to spread out our portfolio.

Texas Beach Real Estate

For a vacation home to grow in value, it’s best for there to be a shrinking pool of new properties, and a growing demand for your properties. The Texas population is growing, as we’ll talk about in a minute. We’re also seeing growth in use of such properties, as the home rental market continues to grow as well. So you have a constrained resource, and a greater pool of people needing that resource. That can only drive rents up.

Texas Population

Texas’s population grew by 20.6 percent, to 25,145,561 last year, from 2000 – more than twice the 9.7 percent national rate of increase, as shown in this Washington Post article. The population closest to our Port Aransas rental, San Antonio, is especially explosive, and Houston is growing rapidly too.

As with the national population, we are aging too. As these people age, the demand for home rentals like ours will continue to grow. The off season for us is a nice complement to the high season. We shift to a monthly model, servicing winter Texans. Those are the younger retiring couples.

A Family Business

As our girls get older, it’s good for them to see our family business get put together. Kids that see their parents start a business are much more likely to do so themselves. We are also likely to have increasing roles for our girls to play in this business.

Cash Flow

When we’ve looked at vacation properties in the past, interest rates and higher management costs made it much more difficult to maintain a positive cash flow. Beach homes were strictly a domain for the locals and for the rich. Prices are falling. As intrest rates come down as well, the technology has made it possible to take on part of the management roles on ourselves. These factors drive down monthly costs to the point where after an initial expense, you can actually make some monthly income. Our goal is to keep investing in our houses, so that when the 15 year notes are done, we’ll have some strong assets for our overall portfolio. Minimally, we’ll have a nice monthly income to supplement our retirement. Better yet, we will have assets that are worth much more than we paid for them.

Technology

So there are a few economic reasons  that have contributed to our decisions. Being able to take on some of the management ourselves, thus driving up returns, is a big piece of the overall equation. Here is our technology stack that we are currently using.

Homeaway

Homeaway, the vacation rentals company, lets us advertise our property in a way that others can find. We currently use three of their sites: Vacation Rentals, VRBO, and Homeaway. So far, they have served us very well.

We’re also able to take credit card transactions and track our bookings, without setting up a merchant account. The costs per transaction are better than I could secure for myself.

Schlagelink

Schlage locks let you create custom codes for your guests and contractors over the Internet. I can know exactly who’s in the house, and when. I can also have some cameras around for security, should I decide to do so.

Group Lists

We use Google Groups to manage a list of local owners. We can better keep an eye out for local politics and conditions that might impact our property. We can also understand in advance how our cost structure is likely to change, as the home owner association discusses issues like trash removal or grounds maintenance contracts.

Personal

Of course, the biggest reasons to get a rental are all personal. We like the beach, and we like the idea of putting in some blood and sweat to build a better life for ourselves. Both of our kids love the beach, and their friends do too. We want to be able to take our kids to places that they love to go while they are still with us. We are also looking ahead, and we would love the ability to let our kids join us from college at the beach.

We love our second beach place as much as the first. Early returns are promising. In the months to follow, I will be writing a little about the house, the island, and the process of getting it ready.

Relaxing on the deck!

Relaxing on the deck!

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