What to Consider When Buying a Destin Florida Vacation Home

Posted on by Crye-Leike


Destin Florida is a destination on the rise according to TripAdvisor.com. With Destin’s rising popularity among tourist, some may be considering purchasing an investment property on the Emerald Coast. If you are one of those people there are some things you should consider before putting that 20% down.

Invest In A Location You Love

When buying a vacation property you should love the location you are investing in. Vacation homes should be bought as vacation or retirement homes first, and an investment property second. If you’re looking for investment income then go with a solid portfolio, because a vacation home will never yield the returns of a diversified portfolio. (Wow I actually felt the wind as people rushed to leave this page!) For those of you who stuck with me there is hope of owning your very own vacation home in your dream location!

If you love coming down to the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast and dipping your toes into the beautiful emerald waters, and if you cherish the memories you make with your friends and family on each trip, then owning a vacation home is probably the right decision for you. Investment properties are for people who want to spend a good deal of time in a certain location, and for those who dream of retiring in their second home.

If you fall into either one of those categories then lets look at how to make an investment vacation property work for you.

Can You Afford a Vacation Property?

The very first, and most obvious, thing you need to do when looking to buy an investment property in Destin is to go over your financials and ensure that you can afford the second mortgage. There are a million mortgage calculators out there such as this one that will allow you to do just that. After you calculate what you can afford for a mortgage, you need to look at the total cost of running a house; taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities. When calculating maintenance costs talk to a local. Destin is a beach community, you will want to think about sand, salt, wind and hurricanes for example. If you choose to invest in a vacation condo as opposed to a vacation house some of these exterior maintenance costs will be offset by the building maintenance team.  Always inflate your costs. If you prepare for the worst case scenario you will never be surprised.

Property Management Companies

If you live more than a couple hours away from your investment property then you will also want to consider a management company. A good property management company will ensure your property will be rented to is maximum ability and take care of maintenance issues in your absence. Property management companies will also deal with any guest issues that may arise, virtually making renting worry free for the property owners. In return a property management company will keep a percentage of the rental income. A lot of homeowners think they can manage their property themselves, but utilizing a good property management company will really relieve a lot of the stress involved with owning a vacation rental. Choosing a property management company is a whole other can of worms, but you can get more information on what to look for in a management company here.  I like Destin Getaways Vacation Rentals. They are small enough to address your needs as they arrive, but large enough to keep your property filled in the peak season.

Build or Buy

A lot of you may like the allure of building your dream vacation home in Destin, but you may want to consider buying. When you build a house from the ground up you may have to deal with local building restrictions, homeowner associations with strict rules and, worst of all, contractors that may be untrustworthy. Not to mention, who has time to deal with picking out light switch covers and cabinet hardware, plus I have rarely heard people tell me they came in under budget when building their house. To stay on budget and to eliminate some of the hassles that go along with building, it may be wise to buy something that already standing. Of course, I would never discourage upgrades, especially since as I said this home should be bought with you, and what makes you comfortable in mind. So, if you want to change the cabinet hardware, then by all means!

Since I’m encouraging you to buy a pre-existing property, I must also urge you to use a real estate agent. You will not believe how helpful an agent dedicated to you and your needs can be, especially if you are not from the area. You may have found the condo of your dreams, but did you think about what the parking was like at the complex?  A real estate agent would. Your real estate agent can also inform you on local events and tourism trends so you can have a better idea of how many weeks out of the year you can expect to have your investment property filled with guests. You can find a fantastic Destin real estate agent here.

Where to Buy

I already told you that Destin is a destination on the rise, so it’s a fantastic place to invest in a vacation property, but aside from the city you still need to think about the location of your investment. In Destin a beach house or a condo directly on the beach will be much easier to keep rented. Let’s face it, if you can’t keep it rented then it’s not much of an investment. That being said, you will also want to think about the people renting your property when you furnish it. Guests will want flat screen tvs, wifi, cable and dont forget to put as many cots, bunks and pull out sofas as you can. The more people an investment property can sleep the more you will be able to charge in rent.

In addition to being on the beach, being centrally located helps too. In the Destin area that means you will want to be close to the beach, to one of the shopping malls, maybe even Big Kahunas water park. A property out on 30A would be great too if it were close to restaurants and convenience stores, also a place in Sandestin where your guests can enjoy the Village of Baytowne Wharf would be fantastic.


Occasionally people will want to invest in a property as a group. I don’t recommend it purely because things can get sticky, especially when dealing with family. If, however, you do want to purchase as a group you will want to hash out the nitty gritty details upfront! What percentage of the property does each person own, will it be dollar for dollar, 60% of the investment gets you 60% of the rental income? Can you sell your portion of the property, and if you can, can you sell it to anyone? If you sell the property do you get your 60% of sale price?  How much time can each person stay in the property? Get everything in writing! People may say one thing, but when it comes to money they have a tendency to act differently when push come to shove.

There is a lot to consider when purchasing an investment property, but it comes back to doing it for the right reasons. Your vacation home should be place for you to make memories with your friends and family, and maybe a be a place for you to retire happily. You can’t put a price on that.

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