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What does LOCATION really means in Port Aransas?

What does LOCATION really means in Port Aransas?  Here’s the inside scoop!

We’ve all heard about the first three rules of real estate:  location, location, location, but when buying property in the South Texas resort community of Port Aransas, what all does that entail?

ZONING:

Since most people buying houses or condos here want rental income generation from their property, buyers must consider zoning.  Although there was talk in the Texas Congress about changing the rules, as of now, only properties zoned R-2 can be used for nightly or short-term rental.  Some neighborhood put additional restrictions on that to mandate rentals of a minimum of 14 days.  Even if a buyer primarily wants the home for their own family’s use, they should probably consider buying in an R-2 zone to rent occasionally or if their needs change.  Also, these properties are usually easier to sell.

The majority of the rental income is generated during the hundred days of summer—roughly from Memorial Day through Labor Day, plus a few days before and after.  During the off season, the rates go down and many of the properties will be rented by Winter Texans on a monthly basis.

If a buyer wants to move here permanently or know for certain that they’d never rent their home, then R-1 zoning is the way to go unless they don’t mind the constant influx of renters.  A few neighborhoods like Channel Vista, Palisades Drive and Island Moorings are zoned R-1.

OLD TOWN:                                                                                                                                                                                       

Many buyers prefer to buy within the boundaries of the original area of Port A known as Old Town, which is anything north of Avenue G.  But those properties usually command a higher price.  Since there are no laws governing what type of houses can be placed where, this area is a hodge-podge collection of older homes, new homes, mobile homes, businesses and fishing cottages.  But it is quaint and some people consider this area more prestigious and desirable.

EAST vs. WEST

Since many locals and vacationers prefer to get around town on a golf cart, and no golf carts are allowed on state highway 361, many buyers choose to buy on the east side of the highway towards the beach.  Certain crossing areas are allowed, but this limited access hampers owners from using their golf carts somewhat.  With the increase in accidents caused by golf carts, the local police are cracking down on drivers who violate this local law.

For more info on golf cart usage, click on these links:

http://www.cityofportaransas.org/Golf_Cart_License_Plates.cfm

http://www.cityofportaransas.org/pdf/ORDINANCE%202009-16-GOLF%20CARTS.pdf

FLOOD ZONES:

Since Port Aransas is at the coast, it is basically sea level–which necessitates the purchase of flood insurance which is regulated nationally by FEMA.  If someone buys their home with cash they can choose not to purchase flood insurance.   Lenders require it. Most condominium complexes cover exterior insurance—including flood and wind—with the HOA dues they collect from owners.  But the elevation varies slightly, so even a few feet of difference can mean a huge difference in cost.  To find out the flood rating on a specific property, see this link:

http://maps.riskmap6.com/TX/Nueces/

Contact a reputable insurance agent to get a quote on insurance before making a final decision.  I heartily recommend my friend, Stephanie Waterman at Farmer’s Insurance.

https://agents.farmers.com/tx/corpus-christi/stephanie-waterman

HOA’s

When it comes to neighborhoods with a Home Owners Association, there are pros and cons.  Most condos and townhomes have an HOA, but some single family home neighborhoods do, as well.  They often cover big expenses like wind and flood insurance and other expenses like exterior maintenance, pool maintenance, landscaping and parking.  For houses, they can, but don’t always, regulate the type of building materials and colors that can be used as well as other architectural restrictions that serve to maintain the integrity and congruity of the neighborhood’s appearance.  But for some, those restrictions are too intrusive and owners chaff at the idea of additional expense of home ownership.  Occasionally the HOA plans a special assessment whereby the huge expenses like a new roof for a condo will be distributed among the homeowners.  As soon as they are aware of this, they notify the owners.  If a condo is for sale, usually the seller will pay this assessment or make arrangements to do so before it closes.

PROXIMITY TO WATER

Obviously, homes closer to the water cost more.  Sand dunes surround the coast here, so there are almost no homes that are actually on the beach.  Dunes are environmentally sensitive areas and cannot be removed or altered without great cost and complications.  It’s rarely done even for a walkway or a driveway.  Homes built directly behind the dunes have a beach view provided they are built up enough or will have a view from upper stories.  However, the closer a property is to the ocean, the higher the toll it from salt. There is another way to get a water view—purchase a home or condo located near the shipping channel or in an exclusive neighborhood like Island Moorings that have canals behind them.

BEACH ACCESS:

Since most people come to Port Aransas for the beach, having easy access is a plus.  Many condo complexes and neighborhoods have wooden or vinyl boardwalks that allow you to easily walk over the dunes in Port A.  Some even are made extra wide and sturdy so that you can drive your golf cart across.  Those are only accessible to the owners and guests of those neighborhoods.  Since the dunes are environmentally sensitive areas, it is forbidden to walk over them.  Besides, they are full of stickers and rattlesnakes, so that’s not advisable anyway.  If there’s no nearby boardwalk, having a beach access road nearby is the next best thing.

CORPUS vs. PORT ARANSAS

Several years ago, a portion of Mustang Island south of Port Aransas was annexed by the city of Corpus Christi.  The county appraisal district lists those properties as being in Corpus and they are taxed accordingly (2.4% as opposed to 1.82% in Port A).  Interestingly enough, the zip code is 78373—which is the Port Aransas zip code.  (Crazy, huh?)  The cut-off point is the La Mirage condominiums located at 5317 State Hwy. 361.  Anything south of that is Corpus—for better or worse.

GATED COMMUNITIES

Although crime is negligible here, being in a gated community does offer an added layer of security for a home owner.  This is particularly important for buyers who only stay at their home occasionally and fear for the safety of their property when it is sitting vacant for much of the year.  Several areas have security gates:  Beach Walk, La Joya and Village Walk and others.

BOTTOM LINE:

As in all real estate ventures, LOCATION is the number one factor in a purchase.  Knowing what that means in a unique resort market like Port Aransas is super important to beach house buyers.  Knowing who to call when you get ready is the easy part—call me!  I’ll make it easy for you to buy a little slice of paradise on the Texas coast.

Port A Property: What Matters Besides Location?

When considering buying a vacation home in Port Aransas, whether for family use and/or vacation rental, there are many factors to consider. Other than the first three rules of real estate: Location, location, location…. what’s number 4 and 5?

PRICE:
Topping that list, of course, is price. Talk to your lender to see what you can qualify for. Better yet, check your cash reserves and see what you could purchase outright. As Dave Ramsey says, “Cash is king!” You can usually drive a better bargain with cash; the closing costs are much lower and the time to close is much quicker.
If buying a property for rental income, get your hands on a rental history.

Keep in mind that you’ll only see the “Gross Rental Income.” Your smile may fade somewhat when you start deducting fixed costs such as management fees, property taxes, interest paid on mortgage, opportunity cost, HOA fees, insurance and maintenance. (More on that in my next blog.) If the property is zoned for short-term or nightly rentals (R-2) but has not been in the rental pool, try to obtain a rental projection. You can usually get one for free or a nominal cost from a local rental management company. Ask your agent for help on this.

AGE OF THE PROPERTY:

Materials:
Once that’s decided, consider the age of the property because newer properties have less wear and tear from other renters/owners. Modern construction methods and materials are better. Salt is a killer corrosive and takes a heavy toll on any metal surfaces outside, including screws and bolts, door hardware and garage doors. Exterior surfaces covered in Hardy Plank® siding or stucco stand up better in the briny air than wood. While brick is a good option, it often doesn’t convey a “beachy” feel to your coastal home.

When it comes to roofing, choose galvanized steel, aluminum or tile. It’s more expensive than composite shingles but lasts longer and stands up to the punishing ocean winds. The AC unit takes a beating in salt air, so newer properties’ AC will be in better shape.

Instead of pressure-treated wood trim, decking and railings, newer properties use vinyl railings and Trex® decking. Both look great and last longer because of sun and wind resistance and don’t attract termites and other wood-destroying insects.

Properties built before 1978 have the possibility of the use of lead-based paint and the seller must verify that either it’s been repainted since then (!) or that they have no knowledge of the use of such paint. Contemporary homes and condos use impact-resistant windows that can withstand high velocity winds and flying debris. They are usually vinyl or vinyl-clad and are more energy efficient.

Design:
Besides the practical matter of better technology and building materials, newer homes look….well…New! They use pastels or intense cheerful colors that fit the tropical theme and architecture, especially here in Port A which is distinctively coastal–as opposed to colonial, modern or traditional. Port A’s style isn’t trendy, though. It’s been around for the past 10-20 years because of its timeless good looks. And if the current building boom is an indicator, it’s a style that will persist.

Newer properties usually have more modern interior features such as open floor plans, low-entry tile showers, granite tops and stainless steel appliances, glass tile backsplashes and nickel or bronze finish plumbing fixtures. They employ other up-to-date design features like wood-look ceramic or vinyl flooring. Many are finished out with shiplap siding on the interior walls and/or ceiling. This not only looks great, but can stand up to the heavy wear and tear by renters much better than sheetrock.

Although carpet is warm, cozy and quiet, it’s not a great choice at the beach. You just can’t keep the sand out! So most newer homes use little or no carpet, instead opting for hardier flooring such as ceramic, laminate, or vinyl strips.

Trends: 
Another trend is emerging in Port A, especially in the luxury market: living areas on upper floors. Since the price of lots is expensive, larger homes go vertical which best optimizes your slice of the ocean or marsh view. The kitchen, dining, and living areas are typically on the second floor, and if there’s a third floor, that’s where you’ll find the master suite. Guest rooms and storage are on the ground floor. If the home is really high-end, you can access those upper stories via your own personal elevator!

Because of the threat of flooding, many newer homes are built on stilts. They may or may not have garages or storage rooms on the ground floor. Otherwise, there’s a parking area under the home which also serves as outdoor living area that’s shaded. If the ground floor wasn’t originally finished out for living space and you enclose it later, it (and its contents) may not be covered on your insurance policy.

Assessments:
Older properties are more expensive to maintain in the short run and in the long run. If you buy a condo, house or townhome with a Home Owner’s Association (HOA), you might find higher dues to keep the property in good shape, especially those older properties nearer the water’s edge. Also, thumb through the “sticky pages” of the deeds and covenants package and ask your real estate agent to find out if there’s an “assessment” planned. To cover major renovations like new roofs, exterior painting, pool updates or parking resurfacing, HOAs bill the owners. Depending on how old the property is and how long they’ve deferred these maintenance issues, this assessment could climb to $5000-$10,000 or more per owner. Usually but not always, when a property is sold, the seller pays for some or all of this cost. Bottom line—-consider the age of the property! …..It’s a thing.

For more buyer tips:      http://myfavoritebeachproperty.com/index.php/buyers/

To read my Zillow reviews:    https://www.zillow.com/profile/lisahood25/#reviews

Why choose Keller Williams?    http://www.kw.com/kw/mvvbp.html