10 Tips for Buying a Lakefront Home as a Vacation Home
You’ve been dreaming of a lake house since you bought your current house. And now, you’re finally getting the chance to get the waterfront property of your dreams. A waterfront home is more than just a peaceful atmosphere – it’s a highly rewarding investment.
That said, buying a lakefront home isn’t as easy as finding a shoreline and signing on the dotted line. Here are 10 tips to help you find the right house for you.
1. Ask Yourself Why You’re Buying
Fun fact: the first step towards dipping your toes in the lakefront homes market isn’t actually shopping for a house. It’s asking yourself why you’re buying the property in the first place. Remember that if you’re buying the property to live in full-time, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with the responsibilities of a waterfront property owner. For example, you’ll need to find out about what upkeep and maintenance will be required.
If you’re buying it for vacations, you’ll need to figure out what you’re doing with the property for the rest of the year.
2. Find an Agent Who’s a Waterfront Specialist
Once you’ve got your priorities in order, find a real estate agent who’s a specialist in waterfront properties. The truth is, your average real estate agent simply won’t have the expertise required to help you get the best deal on a property.
Because of this (especially if you’re new to lakefront properties yourself), you need a real estate agent who knows the intricacies of waterfront homes. For example, a house that seems like a great deal might be a steal because there are oyster beds that make it impossible to get a boat out.
3. Figure Out Financing Early
You also need to figure out your financing early in the game. Most waterfront homes are more expensive than their otherwise identical, landlocked counterparts. For this reason, many lenders put lake and beachfront houses into a special lending category.
This is important for you to keep in mind because it can take longer to underwrite the loan than it might otherwise. If you don’t plan ahead, this could jeopardize your whole deal and cost you the perfect house.
4. Choose the Right Water
Not all waterfronts are created equal. For example, salt versus freshwater. If you love the smell of salty air, there’s no replacement for a beachfront property. On the other hand, if you love water sports, a large lake is the best setting for power boats, tubing, and other such fun times.
But if all you want is a view of the water and some peace and quiet (and a bit of privacy, to boot), stick to a smaller body of water that won’t have any boats, or you’ll be driven up the walls by all the noise in the summertime.
5. Research the Shoreline
While you’re investigating what type of water is right for you, spend some time researching your potential shoreline. Or rather spend some time researching its history and making educated guesses about its future. When water and dirt mix, they turn into a lot of interesting things (besides just mud, of course). This isn’t just fun and games for your young kids who have a talent for finding the biggest mud puddle in a mile radius – over time, the shoreline can actually move.
That’s important because if the water level rises and the shoreline moves too much in the wrong direction, you could end up losing your property altogether.
6. Inspect Early and Thoroughly
You may be getting the idea of what’s high on your priority list: inspecting the property. Inspect it early and inspect it thoroughly. Water might be lovely to see when you wake up in the morning to the sunrise, but nothing else wears out a building so thoroughly.
You might, for example, deal with water in the basement due to a high water table. Mold and mildew love the moisture that inevitably accumulates in waterfront properties, and salty air corrodes the outside of your home. This is why an expert inspection is vital. It helps you figure out exactly what you’re up against.
7. Watch Out for Any Hidden Costs
On that note, your inspection should get you in the right mindset for our next point: watch out for any hidden costs. Fun fact: waterfront properties come with a lot of them. For example, water and sewer rates. You might not think twice about them when you’re house hunting, but they often cost more in waterfront homes than landlocked homes.
If there’s a boat dock, you’ll be facing upkeep costs. Septic tank and well upkeep will also be pricier than your typical landlocked property.
8. Choose a Property That Fits Your Lifestyle
There’s a difference between a beautiful property and the property that’s right for you. For example, if the property is gorgeous but it’s an hour away from the ocean and what you really want is to step from your porch to the beach in no time, that property probably isn’t going to make you happy in the long run.
On the other hand, what you want the water for will change how often you actually use it. A deep-sea fisher, for example, will use the water and a boat more often than someone who likes sitting on their porch or stepping outside for a swim now and then.
9. Build a Strategy for the Property
Finally, if you want to buy a lakefront home, you should make sure to have a strategy for your property. This will depend primarily on what you want to use it for. If you want to live in the house full time, then you’ll be looking for a property you’ll be happy to spend all your time.
If, on the other hand, you’re primarily looking for a vacation home, you should investigate the renting potential of a would-be property.
Buying a Lakefront Home Made Easy
With all of that in mind, are you ready to start the process of buying a lakefront home? We’re here to help you do it.
If you’ve considered all you need to consider and you’re ready to dive in headfirst, take a look at our available properties!