Just a few comments;
First, I'm an agent in DC. The reason the "bubble" didn't really burst in DC like it did elsewhere is because we are one of the only areas in the country that has had with steady job growth the whole time. Also in DC proper properties were significantly undervalued for a very long time. As the market was going nuts all over the country (including here) DC was going through some pretty radical changes and neighborhoods that were plagued by blight have undergone major realizations and seen millions contributed to them through major developments. What this means for an investor is that while you will not get much for your money here relative to other areas the rents you would receive are much higher and the vacancy is much lower. Many of the apartments that I manage have not seen more than a week of vacancy in many years. There are a few where the investor has never had a vacancy.
I've looked at purchasing beach property a few times. I love the idea of owning a place at the ocean. The thing that always stops me is the management fees and the near promise of 3-5 months of vacancy. Beach property seems to be a good long term investment, but there are pretty big fees that eat up your return in the short term. What Deborah says below about being close to your investment is important to consider. It's impossible to put a number on that. I know nothing about the real estate in Waverly or Bay St Louis Mississippi, but If I lived in Alabama I'd at least check into it. If I were going to buy beach property it would be in Hatteras or Salvo which are communities where Tim who also commented is because it's where I vacation, it's near where I grew up, and I can get there in about 5 hours if there was an emergency. I think that area on the Outer Banks is interesting. seem to me there is room for equity growth as development increases there.
Good Luck with your choice.
Deborah Rigsbee Miller, Real Estate Broker
Coldwell Banker HPW
Google Trustee Sale and check them out, best of luck.
Everything from fixing it up if it needs some repair to managing it from far is harder when you've got extra costs. Make sure you take this into consideration when doing your cost estimates. If the property is nearby, anytime there is a problem, you won't be too far away to take care of it.
Feel free to contact me anytime I can be of service.
Kitty Hawk, NC
800-552-6257 ext 234