Owning a beach house can be a great way to ensure that there's always a place for you to stay at your favorite vacation spot. Whether you want to live there full time or just visit in the summer, your beach house is a big investment, and it's important to make sure that you examine all the possible issues before you make a final decision about your purchase. Take a look at some important questions to ask before you decide to make an offer on a waterfront home.

How Long Will the Shoreline Last?

The last thing that you want is for the shoreline your home is located on to disappear before you finish paying off your mortgage. The fact of the matter is that shorelines do change over time, whether from hurricanes or simple erosion. Some shorelines change faster than others, and it's important to be sure that you're buying a home on a shoreline that's going to last awhile.

Certain beaches in states like North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and Florida are at serious risk. Look up your state's geological survey and spend some time researching the information. Make sure that the beach home you're investing in will still have a beach to sit on for some time to come.

What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?

Waterfront properties are prone to their own unique kinds of risks, like floods and hurricanes. You're probably aware of that, but what you may not know is that flood damage and hurricane damage may not be covered in a general homeowner's insurance policy. In many locations, you will need to purchase a separate policy to protect yourself from those hazards.

Insurance premiums are a big part of the ongoing costs of homeownership, so it's important to calculate those costs when you're considering a purchase. You don't want to find out after you purchase the home that you have to get a separate homeowner's insurance policy that you've never heard of before. Before you buy, find out whether or not wind and flood damage will be covered by a general insurance policy, and if not, get an idea of what a supplemental policy will cost.

Can You Use the Property the Way That You Want to?

The point of owning waterfront property is so that you can use it to enjoy the water-based activities of your choice. Therefore, it's important to make sure that you can do what you want to do with the property that you purchase. It's not enough just to have a beautiful view of the water (unless that's all you're looking for). Is the water easy to access? Are activities like fishing, jet-skiing, or boating restricted?

If you're thinking of adding something to the property, like a dock, you may need special permits, or you may not be allowed to do it at all. Find out before you sink money into the deal. Waterfront properties aren't cheap, so before you start paying out money, be certain that you're getting what you think you're paying for.

A real estate agent that knows the area can be a great asset during your search for the right waterfront property. Be sure to ask for an agent that has plenty of experience with waterfront properties.