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Common Mistakes To Avoid When Purchasing A Waterfront Property

There’s an undeniable charm to waterfront property ownership. The serene lifestyle by the ocean, lake, or river is a vision that captivates many. However, this type of real estate comes with its own unique considerations. 

Prospective buyers must be aware that overlooking important factors and skipping due diligence can lead to costly mistakes. To ensure a smooth and successful purchase, be mindful of these common pitfalls when considering a waterfront home or lot.

  • Underestimating Insurance and Tax Costs

Owning waterfront property comes with higher upfront and ongoing costs, particularly when it comes to insurance. Flood insurance is mandatory in high-risk coastal areas and extremely expensive. Windstorm insurance covering hurricane damage may also be required. You’ll pay higher property taxes as well, given the premium value of waterfront land.

According to property specialists like Bruce Myer Real Estate Group, it’s crucial to get precise estimates for insurance costs and tax rates during your budgeting. Overlooking these recurring expenses could make the property unaffordable. You don’t want to overspend on a dream house that ends up being more than you can reasonably afford each year.

  • Overlooking Rising Sea Level and Erosion Risks

Ocean levels rise each year, significantly increasing the risk of flooding and enhancing coastal land vulnerability. This, combined with the potential for accelerated erosion due to frequent storms and high tides, poses a substantial risk to waterfront properties over time. When considering a property, you need to request an elevation certification report and research historical shoreline changes to thoroughly assess flood hazard risks.

Properties that seem safely distanced from water bodies may be threatened in the not-so-distant future. In severe cases, this escalating risk can make properties uninsurable and lose value. As such, careful examination of long-term erosion and flooding vulnerabilities is imperative for anyone looking to invest in waterfront real estate, ensuring informed decisions regarding the property’s sustainability and safety.

  • Failing To Assess Water Quality and Regulations

The allure of living by the water depends on its cleanliness of the water and suitability for recreational activities. It’s essential to research water quality reports and historical data before making a purchase. Be aware that areas can become polluted or overrun with plants and algae, and restrictions may apply to using treated water sources like city reservoirs.

In addition, understand the regulations that govern waterfront properties. Many regions impose heavy restrictions on building shoreline protection, constructing docks, or removing vegetation. Laws protecting wetlands and sensitive habitats may also impact future home renovations. Remember, poor water quality or overly strict regulations could potentially diminish your enjoyment of your property.

  • Failing To Account For Boating and Water Access

A notable advantage of waterfront ownership is the convenience of boating, canoeing, paddleboarding, or fishing right from your property. However, it’s important to note that not all properties offer viable water access. It’s important to conduct a thorough inspection of the land and assess the water depth at different tide levels. You may find that some properties lack a natural shoreline or don’t have sufficient water levels for easy boat launching.

Furthermore, it’s worth inquiring whether actions such as dredging, dock installation, or shoreline reinforcement—measures that could improve water access—are both feasible and permitted by local regulations. Failing to do so could limit your ability to fully enjoy the benefits of your property’s location.

  • Overlooking Necessary Property Maintenance

When considering waterfront property, be prepared for the more intensive home maintenance requirements that come with it. The salty air and moisture can accelerate material deterioration. Roofs, siding, and docks may need to be replaced more frequently compared to inland properties. Therefore, selecting the appropriate durable construction materials for the environment is essential.

Given the climate conditions along the water, you may also need to invest in specialized heating and air conditioning equipment. Landscaping and the eradication of invasive plant species can be an ongoing battle. It’s important to add funds for robust home maintenance and outdoor work to your budget. Postponing proper upkeep can lead to even higher costs later.

  • Failing To Verify Ownership and Access Rights

Before purchasing waterfront property, you must thoroughly verify who owns the land and what access rights come with ownership. Typically, the water body itself is owned by the state or an entity like the Army Corps of Engineers. Double-check the official deeded waterfront boundary lines, as they often don’t extend into the water.

Furthermore, find out if the waterfront access is shared with neighbors. Shared beach or dock access requires following rules and may restrict future modifications. It’s advisable to hire a real estate attorney to scrutinize ownership documentation and waterfront rights. Making assumptions could lead to issues down the road, so it’s best to be thorough from the start.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a waterfront property is a dream for many, offering an idyllic lifestyle by the water’s edge. However, such a purchase requires careful consideration and diligence.

By avoiding common pitfalls such as underestimating ongoing costs and overlooking maintenance needs, prospective buyers can secure a property without unwelcome surprises. Making informed decisions backed by careful research and expert advice, is crucial to successfully purchasing and enjoying a waterfront property to the fullest.


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About the Author

Kaya Wittenburg

Blog Author and CEO

Kaya Wittenburg is the Founder and CEO of Sky Five Properties. Since the age of 10, real estate has been deeply ingrained into his thoughts. With world-class negotiation and deal-making skills, he brings a highly impactful presence into every transaction that he touches.

He is here to help you use real estate as a vehicle to develop your own personal empire and feel deeply satisfied along the way. If you have an interest in buying, selling or renting property in South Florida, contact Kaya today.

Feel free to call me at: (305) 357-0635
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