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Your Finance: Want to buy a beach house?

An aerial view of Fire Island shows the

An aerial view of Fire Island shows the devastation and destruction left by superstorm Sandy. (Oct. 31, 2012) Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

The scenes rolling in from flood-ravaged New Jersey and New York are devastating, and not just to the people whose homes were destroyed.

Also damaged are the "retire with a water view" dreams of others who had aspired to vacation property and may have been thinking about beach real estate -- until they saw what a storm like Sandy can do.

Some people will take their insurance settlements and walk away from properties that they will sell "as is" to undeterred buyers who think this is the time to pick up a beach bargain.

Here are some line items to consider before you ride in with your checkbook and start making offers.

Prices may rise, not fall. Stan Humphries, the chief economist for Zillow, the real estate research site, has observed that home prices typically rise about six months after an area is hit hard by hurricanes or other major natural events.

Housing stock is depleted and new-construction costs are high. So it's unlikely that you will pick up a big bargain, though some buyers are negotiating hard now on homes they were planning to buy before the storm hit.

Your flood insurance is going to get more expensive. Legislation that reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program will require FEMA to eliminate subsidies and raise premiums on some properties. Premiums could go up by as much as 20 percent a year in some areas. Older "non-primary" vacation homes will take a bigger hit.

Your mortgage could cost more, too. Typically, a second-home mortgage doesn't cost very much more than one for a primary home as long as you can qualify for it on the basis of your income. If you need rental income to qualify for the mortgage, that's a different story.

Expect to need a higher down payment -- at least 20 percent -- and to pay an interest rate that is roughly 0.5 percentage point higher, according to quotes from

You're part of a club. Of course, many vacation places are simply single-family homes that owners take care of themselves.

Everyone in a particular condo association pays when repairs are made to common areas like roofs, sidewalks and golf courses. When a building sustains significant damage, its condo association may eventually have to make a special assessment on all owners.


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