What to Know Before Buying a Waterfront Property

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty 91362

Things to Consider Before Buying Waterfront Property

Are you considering buying a waterfront home? With their own unique beauty, waterfront properties are unlike anything available on the real estate market. As soon as you lay your eyes on one of these buildings, you will start to dream of your future life here.

You’re not alone in this reaction either; there is just something about waterfront property that just captures awe.

However, property like this comes with complexities that other properties don’t have, and this is something that needs to be explored and understood fully before you go ahead and buy a waterfront home for sale. Let's go ahead and explore some of the more vital considerations before purchasing a waterfront property.

1. Know What You’re Looking For

The term waterfront property is an umbrella term that can relate to many different types of real estate, so when you begin your search, it’s important to know what you’re actually looking for.

  • Do you want a lake house?
  • Are you looking for a beachfront property?
  • Are you looking for crisp, clean water? Or is that not something you care about?

These are a couple of questions you’re going to have to ask yourself, which are unique to waterfront property, alongside the more obvious and common ones you should answer, such as how many bathrooms you need, how many bedrooms you need, etc.

2. Understand What You’re Buying

Water is very easy on the eye and is a large reason you even want a property like this in the first place, but it’s tough on buildings.

There could be water intruding into the basement of a home. The property's exterior may be heavily corroded due to the saltwater or even mildew and mold issues due to water's moisture levels.

These are some of the many issues that come along with owning a waterfront property. However, an expert will be able to help you identify them much easier, alongside surveys, elevation certificates, and water quality tests are all things you can use to see what you might be up against. A land surveyor can help with some of these things.

3. Look For Hidden Costs

There are quite a few hidden costs that come with purchasing a property like this, and I want to make you aware of them, so they don’t creep up on you and your finances.

  • LEASED LOTS: Buying a lake home may mean you have to lease the land itself, as the federal government will sometimes own the lake and the shoreline on which your house sits on. Although this sort of thing isn’t that complicated, it will be around about $300-$600 more per month to own a property on this land.
  • PROPERTY TAXES: Waterfront property tends to be subject to higher property taxes.
  • INSURANCE: Due to your property's exposure to the natural elements that come with owning a waterfront home, your homeowner's insurance is often increased. Additionally, if you’re in an area that is prone to flooding, you’ll need flood insurance too.
  • BULKHEADS: You are responsible for maintaining the bulkhead (the barrier between the water and the land). Make sure to get a proper inspection of this before purchasing.
  • BOAT DOCKS: Boat docks can be a costly expense, especially if the waterfront you’re purchasing doesn’t even have one yet.
  • UTILITIES: Because waterfront properties are in secluded areas, basics things like power, water, and cable might come at a premium, if they are even available at all.
  • HOA: Waterfront properties are sometimes a part of HOA, which means that they might be subject to more fees, which could really set you over your budget.

4. Scrutinize The Property

The waterfront property you’re currently looking at may have a beautiful view, but the access to the water itself may not be as good, which is a real turn-off if you actually want to get on the water instead of just look at it all day.

Your back garden might be full of weeds and other debris that could be getting in the way of the view from your home, which could mean extra costs if you wanted to get this whole area properly landscaped in the future.

5. Research The History and Future of The Shoreline

The water and dirt mix and some interesting things can happen, though these interesting things tend not to be too enjoyable if you own waterfront property as the shore can move.

Meaning that the water level goes up, and you could lose your entire waterfront property.

And if the water line moves away, well, then your home would no longer really be waterfront property.

You could even be a quarter of a mile away from any actual body of water.

6. Verify Your Property Actually Extends to The Water’s Edge

In many cases, the lines of the lot you’re looking to buy may not actually extend to the water’s edge, so there could be a strip of land that someone else owns.

You’ll want to check your deed's legal description to see where your property starts and ends.

Though this sort of thing may not matter to you too much, in the future, you might want to do some form of extension or addition to the property, so it’s just important to know all the facts before you get your heart set on new additions.

7. Understand Your Responsibilities as an Owner

Although it sounds a little annoying, you actually have some responsibilities, more so when you owned a normal property if you own waterfront property.

There are specials guidelines you’re going to have to follow if you’re a part of something like the HOA or the Homeowner Association.

You may even have restrictions on how you can paint your home, the type of fences that are acceptable to install, or how you should even landscape your own front and back lawn.

The association may also have an access easement within your property, meaning that other property owners can access the water that passes through the legal border of your land.

As you can imagine, HOA is not an organization everyone enjoys being a part of and will probably be a deal-breaker for many people looking for a waterfront home.

Sharon Paxson also has some valuable things to consider when buying a waterfront home worth reading through as well.

Final Thoughts on Buying Waterfront Property

For the most part, you can't beat living on waterfront property. There is a reason waterfront homes are considered premium properties. Before pulling the trigger on one, make sure you do your homework. Sometimes there is more than meets the eye when it comes to waterfront housing.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed this guide on some of the things to think about when owning this property type.

Posted by

Bill Gassett is a thirty-two year veteran to the real estate industry. He enjoys providing helpful information to buyers, sellers and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Placester, RESAAS, Credit Sesame and others.

Comments (1)

Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Bill - there are so many factors to consider and you illustrated many of them.

Mar 18, 2021 07:16 AM
Bill Gassett

There is certainly a lot to think about when buying a waterfront home Grant

Mar 18, 2021 11:08 AM