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Maine Lakefront Real Estate - Building Your Lakefront Dreamhouse? Think Resale!

Real Estate Agent with Anne Plummer and Associates

As a listing agent I often ask myself "What were the sellers thinking when they built this house?"

Often times bright, sharp and savvy people will build a home to their individual tastes and singular specifications never thinking that someday they might want to sell. Now, those of you who don't care whether your lakefront home is a good long term investment or not can stop reading right here. But, if you care about the long term value of your lakefront home, please read on.

#1 Mistake - Building a suburban style home on the lake - Lakefront property is vacation property. For most lakefront buyers, a lake home is a second home used for vacation getaways. They are looking for a home that has rusticity. They want something that is authentic and "evergreen" rather than "plastic" or trendy. The classic Maine camp with a pine interior is a look that never goes out of style. It's authentic - hardwood floors, bead board, fieldstone fireplaces, screened porches, cathedral ceilings, granite and/or flagstone hardscape, solid pine doors, three-quarter inch Pickwick pine. These are the things that make vacation homes in the lakes region. This is what's forever in demand. If you dislike log homes, how about a post and beam?

Wall-to-wall carpeting, Euro-style kitchen cabinets, hollow core doors, Formica this and that, walls of sheet rock, and fibreglass shower enclosures might be what's great in the suburbs, but not here.

When you decide to build, remember you might want to sell someday. Build what's always in demand, not what's trendy.

#2 Mistake - Planning the home before buying the lot - But more than how it's appointed is how little thought is given to the home's relationship to the lake. Often times, folks from away spend gobs of time working on home plans before they buy their lakefront lot. They then, with great futility, try to fit the home to a lot and miss the mark. What one should do is buy a lot and then design a house to take advantage of the best features of the lot. Don't get it backwards.

#3 Mistake - Not considering functionality - Last Sunday I visited a 10 year old four bedroom house with one three quarter bath and two half baths. Why would anyone build a four bedroom house with one shower, no bathtub and 3 toilets? ( I know, there's a joke in there somewhere). My advice: if your finished living space is spread over three levels, you need two three quarter baths and one full bath, with a bathroom on every floor. And every house needs at least one tub. Where do you wash the toddlers in the family? And bedrooms? You need at least one on the first floor.

#4 Mistake - Leaving the decisions to the "experts" Sometimes wealthy people,who sometimes have more dollars than sense, will leave all the details to a trendy architect they found in Downeast Magazine. Big Mistake. I recently visited a million dollar property on Pleasant Lake. None of the bedrooms had closets. The architect didn't like closets!! A triumph of form over function. The old Yankees who built half the homes on the lakes would never have stood for such foolishness.

#5 Mistake - Giving more thought to the house rather than the the lot it sits on - Everyone wants a house they can be proud of. But here in the lake region you want a lot that has great views, sandy beach swimming and privacy. Please read The 5 Top Attributes of a lakefront property. Over time it's the lot that appreciates in value not the structure. If you're going to overspend on something, overspend on the lot.

This posting contributed by Tom Ferent/Mr. Lakefront

Scott Clark
Scott Clark - Log Lenders of America - Austin, TX

Hi Jon, Sound advice!  Let me know if you ever need any assistance with financing for a purchaser of a log home.  We specialize in log home financing so we're able to overcome the "comps issue" that some lenders struggle with for the appraisal.  We have been providing financing to this niche market on a nationwide scale for 11 years now.  I guess with a name like "Log Lenders of America" we'd have to specialize in it :)

May 27, 2008 09:58 AM