Top 10 Things to Consider When Buying Lakeshore Property in Minnesota + Minnesota Lakeshore Properties For Sale

Real Estate Broker/Owner with EXIT REALTY NEXUS Minneapolis & St. Paul MN 20558573

Top Things to Consider When Buying or Selling Lakeshore Property in Minnesota (From curbside, you would never know how valuable a property might be without further investigation and/or having a Lakeshore Professional help you find a perfect property.)

Minnesota Lakeshore Specialists

If you're considering buying lakeshore property anywhere, you are likely in the process of making one of the largest and most important investment decisions of your life. Making the decision(s) should be based on all of the facts associated with the entire property, lake and community versus only a few facts ‘eye candy' and/or emotions.   We are providing you with a tool that should support your planning and decision-making. It also includes information on where to get relevant facts about the lake area, recreation, water quality and other issues including air traffic noise. Things to consider and to avoid in your pursuit: Buying lakeshore is not the same as buying residential property. There are many things to consider. This is generally designed to answer the question: What are the things that need to be considered in a lakeshore property purchase.

Top Things to Consider When Buying Lakeshore Property:  Purchasing a lakeshore property is not as simple as viewing the house and garage and determining whether it is consistent with your "Buyer Criteria". In addition to evaluating the property itself, there are several things to consider including the Real Estate Professional that helps you with the acquisition.

1.  The Lakeshore
What are the lakeshore features? Does it have a rock foundation, natural sand, grass, weeds, or mud? Is the shoreline invested with snails? Some lakeshores have an area that you can litterally sit down in a lawn chair, dig your toes in the sand, and people watch. Some lakes are notorious for having bottomless mud. Is this what you really want? If you're fortunate you'll find a lake (in your price range) with a natural sand shoreline. But to do a fair evaluation of the lakeshore means getting out your hip-waders and getting a little wet. "When buying lakeshore property, the quality of the lake, lakeshore, and lake-bottom are as important as the house".  There are a few (very few) who just want to see the reflection of the sky on water as well.

2.  The Lake Bottom
What is the lake bottom like? Is it hard pan, sand, gravel, mud, or weeds? Does the lake bottom slope gradually or are there steep drop offs? This could be an important safety consideration with families and small children. "Learning about the lake is one of the most important aspects of buying lake property".  Become the most informed consumer is paramount.

3.  The Lake
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides excellent lake information on their website  Effectively reviewing this website will allow you to determine the following: size of the lake, the lakes littoral area, the lakes depth, plus much more. A quick measure of the quality of a lake might include comparing the ratio of lake acres to littoral acres (area less than 15 feet). For example, if we look up Rice Lake (near Brainerd), it has 434 acres and 202 littoral acres. This indicates that less than half the lake is less than 15 feet in depth, thus it would be a good overall multi-use lake. Conversely, Little Blueberry Lake is 522 acres in size with a littoral area of 522 acres, with a maximum depth of 15 feet. This indicates that the entire lake has the possibility of blooming over with weeds and vegetation as the summer progresses. It's a good idea to get in a boat or canoe and check out the lake first hand if possible. This will also help you determine what kind of cabins/homes are on the lake if allowed. Are there million dollar mansions or shacks packed together? Other important considerations includes the impact of millfoil or zebra mussels if any.

4.  Lake Use
How do you plan on using the lake? Are you hoping to be swimming regularly? Some lakes/lakefronts are too shallow or weedy for swimming. Do you really want to wade thru mud to go swimming? Do you want to just sit on your dock and relax? Some larger lakes like Minnetonka and Whitefish and others get so much boat and personal watercraft traffic that it's almost impossible to just sit on your dock and relax (especially on weekends). Consider the amount of boat traffic as well.   Is it safe to water ski or pull people on water toys? Lakes less than 150 acres may be too small for skiing. Lakes with a high ratio of littoral area may be too weedy for skiing. Larger lakes like Mille Lacs and Leech Lake have large unprotected surface areas, which enables the wind to whip across and work up four foot waves. Can you swim, ski or fish when there are four foot waves? Lake size does matter!

5.  Fishing
Do you or your guests intend on fishing? Do you want to fish in summer and winter seasns? Some lakes are not really usable in winter, others contain "hotspots". What's the quality of fishing? What species of fish reside in the lake; walleye, muskie, bass, or rough fish? Is this what you wanting to sport? Are there any winter kill possibilities?

6.  Biodiversity
Some lakefront properties offer a vast biodiversity when it comes to a variety of shores, bottoms, currents etc. For instance, on Rice Lake near Brainerd and Clear Lake near Pequot Lakes you will find a mixture of beautiful sand lakeshore coupled with cool natural flowing springs. Biodiversity like this is rare and priceless, but within your grasp in Minnesota. Lakes that are fed by rivers like the Minnesota, St. Croix or Mississippi offer more diversity to explore and enjoy. The adjoining river is an extension of the lake. In essence, the river increases the lake size and opportunities associates with enjoyment, fishing and value.

7.  Property Location/Placement on the Lake
Every lake lot has advantages or disadvantages depending on where they are located and your perspective. For instance, if the house or cabin is located on the east side of the lake, you'll likely experience beautiful sunsets. If your house is on the west side you'll likely get a view of the neat sunrises. Does this make a difference to your lifestyle and quiet enjoyment of the lakeshore property? Lake elevations are also important. Does it have steep or gradual elevations? Can you see the lake from the house in all seasons? Do you have to wade thru swamp or weeds to get to the lake?  Finally, what are the views like in a variety of seasons?

8.  Lake Water Levels
In north central MN, we've experienced a few back to back years of below average rain fall. Some lake levels have dropped several feet. On these lakes, lake front property owners have experienced the "receding" water level dilemma. Their boat lifts were dry-docked.

9.  Availability of Services
For some buyers, it is important to be close to the amenities that make lake life more comfortable. Such as restaurants, bars, gas, bait, golf courses, hardware and groceries.

10. Distance & Travel Time
For most buyers distance and travel time is important. If you are buying a lake home and live in the Minneapolis Saint Paul Metro area and plan on spending most weekends at the lake, distance and travel time can be significant factors in your purchase decision. Would you rather spend five hours or ten hours a weekend commuting to/from the lake?


11.  Lakeshore Building Restrictions
Lakeshore building guidelines are set by the state. Each county must adhere to the state guidelines but they can also set their own local restrictions. These collective guidelines dictate things like; set backs of the house from the lake and property lines, are there agricultural or DNR easements, and what are the well and septic system requirements. Are you planning on buying a property with the desire to expand later? If so, make sure that your expansion plans conform with "lakeshore" zoning guidelines. This is another factor of being associated with a proven real estate professional.

12.  Seasonal Or Year Round Use
Do you want a "summer" home or are you also interested in using it year round as a get away?  Is the lakeshore home your seeking going to be your primary residence?  Do you snowmobile, cross country ski or ice fish? Is the house insulated for winter use? Have the water lines been plumbed so that you can readily drain them as winter approaches? Do you have to "crawl" under the cabin to access mechanicals and/or water lines?

13.  Public Access
Does the lake have a public access? If it doesn't - how are you and your guests going to get your water toys in and out of the water? Is the landing concrete or sand/gravel? Will you be able to launch your boat? Beware of lakes on "chains". Is there a usable/navigable channel that will accommodate the size of boat that you have?

14.  Ice Out
With spring comes ice out. Consider the pre-veiling winds for ice out conditions and/or risks.  Your new lakeshore could suffer a serious loss in structure and value during ice out. Mille Lacs Lake for instance is notorious for sever ice out conditions that send walls of ice and debris towards the lakeshore. These walls of ice will move small mountains of dirt and sand. Your gradual slope to the lake could become a five foot drop-off over night.

15.  Road & Airplane Noise
Keep in mind that many lakeshores were plotted off before zoning regulations were in existence. Old wagon trails that were once lightly used have been paved and now carry lots of traffic generating significant road noise. Some lakeshore cabins are within 30 feet of busy highways.  What level of road and/or air traffic noise is acceptable to you?

For an excellent interactive site that plots air traffic routes over any Twin City recorded address and including the various airports, utilize this web site: The Interactive website can be used to interactively map an address in relation to:

  • the airport's proposed noise exposure map boundaries 
  • actual flight tracks for flights landing or taking off at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Flying Cloud Airport (Eden Prairie) or the St. Paul Downtown Airport
  • actual noise levels (events) recorded at the remote monitoring towers associated with a selected flight
  • an impact analysis grid that shows the number of flights that went through a given area defined by a  series of 3-square-mile areas

16.  Lakeshore Pricing
If you haven't shopped around for lakeshore property, brace yourself for "sticker" shock. Depending on the location, quality and desirability of the lake and lakefront, lakeshore property in Minnesota will range from $1,500 to over $7,000 a frontage foot. For instance, on Lake Vermillion in northern Minnesota, many sales are in the range of $1,500 to $2,000 per shoreline foot. That compares with $4,500 to $7,000 a foot for the upscale cachet of lakes near Brainerd like Gull or Pelican Lakes, $3,300 on Leech and $2,000 to $2,400 on Lake Winnibigoshish.
Minnesota Lakeshore Pricing "Rules of Thumb" even in this type of marketplace.

  • If you live on a smaller lake (100 - 500 acres) with gradual to level elevation and a good beach you can expect to pay $1,500 - $2,250 per foot of lakeshore.
  • For medium size lakes (500 - 1,000 acres) with gradual to level elevation and a good beach you can expect to pay $2,250 - $3,750 per foot of lakeshore.
  • On larger lakes or chains (1,000 - 15,000+ acres) with gradual to level elevation and a good beach you can expect to pay $3,500 - $7,000 per foot of lakeshore.

These figures do not include structures nor do they take into consideration location, beach quality, elevation, trees, exposure and neighboring properties which always influence the market value of property.

Anticipate paying more for a "quality" lake and lakeshore. Buying into the "right" lake and lakeshore will have a major impact on your ability to enjoy your purchase and the amount of your return on investment should that time come for resale.

•17.    Having a Professional Represent You

Think About This! Most people developing personal wealth utilize a professional manager or stock broker. Is the Real Estate person you know a Strategic Real Estate Investment Professional? America's biggest and greatest asset generally revolves around their personal real estate acquisitions. You owe yourself the right to be aligned with entrusted professionals utilizing creative wealth building strategies. Our mission is simple: We want to accelerate your personal wealth through proven systems, management and implementation strategies we have developed over the years.

ARE THERE BANK OWNED AND SOON TO BE BANK OWNED LAKESHORE PROPERTIES?  Absolutely.  I'm an REO Broker who specializes in doing Broker Price Opinions for Banks who are about to redeem properties.  That's why you need consider our services.  We can make you the most informed consumer even before these properies become availble to the general public. 
In summary; when buying lakeshore property, the quality of the lake and lakeshore are as important as the house. Houses can be remodeled, lots can be landscaped, but you can't fix the lake, lake bottom or lakeshore.

We hope you find this useful in that our mission is to keep our lakeshore home buyers and sellers most informed when the time comes to making decisions on dealing with one of their most prized possessions and assets. 


Courtesy of :

Frank D'Angelo - Broker/SRS/ EXIT Realty Executives Your Lakeshore Professional  Search for Lakeshore Properties by clicking here.

(763)548-1444 (Single Number Reach Technology)


Contact Frank D'Angelo, Broker, Sellers Residential Specialist. Licensed Broker in the State of Minnesota at (763) 548 1444 to list your lakeshore property for sale or to purchase a lakeshore property in the Minneapolis Saint Paul Metro Area.                           


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Bonnie & Frank D'Angelo 11/17/2008 11:46 AM
Minnesota's Nice :)
searching finding minnesota lakeshore properties for sale

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Frank D'Angelo

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