Rent helps buy a beach house

DREAM HOME

Deluxe: A Baltimore couple find they can afford a $555,000 beach house by renting it out.

Dream Home

April 06, 2003|By Susan L. Towers | Susan L. Towers,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

REHOBOTH BEACH, DEL. — Baltimore residents Carla and Craig Lurz had always dreamed of owning a house at the beach.

But as a working couple with two children, a beach house seemed out of reach. He is a teacher and she is a financial products sales representative.

For years they vacationed with their children in Ocean City and later in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But it wasn't until about five years ago, when some friends invited them for a visit to Rehoboth Beach, that they knew they would figure out a way to turn their dream into a reality.

"We fell in love with the area," she recently recalled, sitting on a chair in the beach house living room that is decorated in denim and yellow.

"It wasn't as busy as Ocean City and so much closer than the Outer Banks. We can get here from Baltimore in 2 1/2 hours. And, as far as the restaurants, we've had some of the best meals of our life right here, dressed in shorts and T-shirts."

The couple chose Sept. 18, 1998, as the day they would find a house to buy. They arrived in Rehoboth with an appointment with a real estate agent and a list of properties to investigate. While they had sold stock options to help finance the purchase, they planned to rent out the house during the summer to make ends meet.

They settled on a two-story, cedar-shingled home on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Pines, a neighborhood in north Rehoboth.

While the $555,000 was more than they wanted to pay, the $3,200- to $3,800-a-week they expected in summer rentals became an important consideration in the home's affordability. The house is booked for this coming season by a list of yearly regulars who jealously guard their weeks.

The house has high ceilings and lots of windows. It includes a large living room and dining room, modern kitchen, four bedrooms and two loft sleeping areas. It has two decks - one off the dining room and another off the second-floor master bedroom.

It is located six houses from the beach in a wooded and rustic neighborhood that, according to Craig Lurz, doesn't even feel like the beach. There's a small lake near the home and the neighborhood is a blend of stately older homes as well as new ones. And values along the shoreline have escalated during the past two years.

Craig Lurz recalled how the couple started fixing up the house as soon as they bought it. They painted it, replacing the interior's gray tones with yellows and whites. They added furnishings in pastel tones. A photograph of the family, sitting on the sand in evening attire with the waves lapping at their waists, sits prominently on a living room table.

The 7-year-old house did not need any serious work. However, its exposed decks were covered with leaves, debris, mold and bird droppings. The couple paid a contractor $11,000 to enclose both decks.

Craig Lurz has spent many weekends working in the garden, putting in pathways, a seating area, plants and a fence.

"We're very happy here and come as often as we can," Carla Lurz said, estimating that through the year they are at their beach house at least twice a month and often three times a month.

The couple eventually replaced their suburban Baltimore home with a city town house so it would be more convenient to travel to Rehoboth on weekends.

Friends come regularly to visit them.

"I love coming down here," said Baltimore teacher and family friend Fran DiLella, who came down during a recent weekend. "We bring neighbors for long weekends. And, we even rent the house for a week in the summer."

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