What to Look for When Buying Waterfront Property
Quiet lakesides, buzzing riverfronts, or lively beachfronts – waterside properties have captured the imagination of homebuyers and investors for centuries. Whether you are looking to settle down in a spectacular spot or want to take advantage of an investment opportunity, real estate in a waterfront location simply has a special appeal.
That being said, the same appeal also drives demand and can lead to higher prices or even bidding wars. Plus, waterfront properties come with specific considerations when it comes to structural integrity and long-term appreciation of your investment. Here is everything you need to know.
Choose a Waterfront Property that Matches your Lifestyle
It’s easy to say you would love to live by the water, but it’s not quite enough to narrow down your search for the perfect waterfront property. Consider the lifestyle you want: if you’re looking for a quiet weekend retreat, a lakeside home may be the right choice. If you enjoy surfing and other watersports, think about a beachfront pad.
But if you prefer a busy, urban lifestyle, a riverside high-rise with sweeping views may be a better fit. Try to picture yourself in your waterfront property, and imagine the future you and your family could have there. Then start searching for that perfect place.
Learn All About the Property
Put simply, you can never have too much information about your prospective waterfront property. Once you have found something you like, start gathering as much information as you can. To point you in the right direction, here are some of the most pertinent questions to ask.
What Can You Do with the Property?
Perhaps all you would like to do with your new waterfront property is to move in and enjoy the views. Does that sound too good to be true? That’s because most property buyers are looking to do more.
Perhaps you want to add a dock or a boatshed. Alternatively, you may consider renting your property to others for some time of the year, especially if you will only be using it for weekends, bank holidays, and vacations.
In those cases, it is important to understand if there are any restrictions on the use of your real estate. The term waterfront is very generic, and without the right kind of research, you may end up owning property on an unusable body of water. Check all relevant details before committing to avoid nasty surprises later.
Does the Property Extend to the Waterline?
Many prospective waterfront property owners dream of walking off their deck directly down to the water. If your property extends all the way to the waterline, that dream may just come true. If the property’s boundaries are different, you want to confirm your right to access and find out who else has the right to use the waterfront right outside your doorstep.
Would Any Docks be Owned by You, or are They Owned by Others on the Property?
If there are docks on or adjacent to the property, you want to find out whether they will be owned by yourself or others. As a dock owner, you may have space for a boat or other water vehicle. Renting the dock to others could be an additional source of income.
On the other hand, if the docks are not owned by you, they may generate unwanted traffic or cause additional costs if you want to have a boat stationed right outside your property.
Will You Have to Lease the Land from the Owner?
Another question not to be overlooked is the ownership of the waterfront land if it is not part of the property you’re buying. Assuming you want access to a dock or a boatshed, you may be able to rent these separately. Alternatively, you may also want to lease additional waterfront land from the owner to ensure you can use your dream property to the fullest.
What are the Property Taxes?
Taxes should be another essential item on your list of property costs to check. These can vary widely between states and individual communities, so, it’s important not to make assumptions but instead get the facts.
Investigate What Kinds of Insurance You Need
Depending on your property’s proximity to the water, you may need to buy a specialist insurance cover that protects against water-based damage. If the area is prone to flooding like some riverfronts can be, it can be difficult to find adequate cover. If your dream property includes docks and other facilities, you may need specialist liability cover, too.
Do You Have to Maintain a Bulkhead?
Most waterfront properties are protected by a bulkhead or a seawall. As an owner, you may be responsible for part of the maintenance of those walls, which can incur significant costs, especially when major repairs are required.
Is There a Home Owners’ or Property Owners’ Association?
An HOA or a POA should be able to answer most of your questions about the property and your rights and commitments as an owner. Property owners’ associations also often have a set of rules that all owners in the area agree to follow.
For waterfront properties, these rules may include the use of docks, boat sheds, slipways, and other facilities.
Are the House and Other Buildings Built to Withstand the Waterfront?
Waterfront properties are the fulfillment of the ultimate property dream for many people. When you are looking at potential properties, it’s easy to overlook faults and just see the positives. But it’s important to stay realistic and check houses and any other buildings thoroughly. After all, you need to be sure that your dream home was built to withstand the power of the water nearby.
Talk to the Neighbors
One of the best ways of getting to know an area and property is to talk to your prospective neighbors. Their insight is often invaluable, and the longer they have been in the area, the better they will know its advantages and disadvantages. Talking to the neighbors also gives you a good idea of what the community around you may feel like.
Work with Experts on Waterfront Properties
Does this feel like a long list of things to consider? You’re not wrong to feel that way. Waterfront properties are worth the work, but finding the right one and avoiding costly mistakes is easier with an expert in your corner.
Real estate agents specializing in these properties know which questions to ask and understand how to avoid common pitfalls. If you would like to have an expert in your corner, contact our team at Midwestern Realty today! We’d love to help you find your dream waterfront property.