Waterfront property isn’t like any other type of property. It carries a unique beauty and versatility, since you’re getting land and water at the same time. However, it can also be more complicated than land-locked real estate.
Here are the top 10 tips for how you can make your waterfront property buying experience more successful:
- Inspect carefully and comprehensively. Water might be easy on the eyes, but it’s hard on a building. Whether you have water intruding into the basement from the high water table, corrosion on your exterior because of salt air, or mildew and mold issues from higher moisture levels in the air, an expert inspection can help you understand what you might be up against. Surveys, elevation certificates, water quality tests and other land- and water-based inspections that you might not do on a regular house can be very important with waterfront property.
- Choose the right water. Waterfront property isn’t all the same. If you want the smell of salt air, there’s no substitute for beachfront property, but if you want to hear crashing surf, a property on a bay might not have the right action. Property on a large lake gives you the ability to have a powerboat but if you want peace and quiet, you might be better served by being on a smaller body of water that’s devoid of noisy powerboats and peering eyes.
- Walk the property carefully. Spending some time on the water helps you see if the property is as good as you think. For instance, you could have a beautiful view, but not have good access to the water. On the other hand, the lake that looks fantastic from the window could actually be choked with weeds and debris. When a house has an unattractive backyard, you can change the landscaping. With a waterfront home, you’re also buying the water, so getting it right is crucial.
- Check insurance requirements. Waterfront properties frequently have an increased risk of flood damage and some beachfront homes are also at risk of hurricane or even earthquake damage. If insurance is available, it could be cost prohibitive, so it’s best to know before you sign a contract.
- Look for hidden costs. Waterfront properties can sometimes carry additional expenses that buyers might not be aware of. For starters, water and sewer rates can be more expensive than inland rates. Boat dock and lift fees as well as septic tank and well upkeep are additional potentially hidden expenses to inquire about as well.
- Research the shoreline’s history (and future). Water and dirt mix in interesting ways and, sometimes, the shore moves. If the water level goes up, you could end up losing your property. If the water line moves away, your waterfront home could end up being a quarter-mile walk from any water.
- Look for a deal. For many people, owning waterfront property is a dream come true. For others, not so much, which can create some extremely motivated sellers. If you can find a motivated seller and move quickly, you just might get a great deal helping that owner get rid of his problem.
- Consider supply & demand. On the other hand, if there are too many properties on the market at prices that seem like they’re good deals, it could be a sign of a weak market. Either way, consider what’s most important to you in your buying decision before moving forward.
- Devise a strategy for the property. If you’re going to live in the property as your primary home, that’s one strategic buying approach that you can take. On the other hand, if your waterfront property is going to be a vacation home, you might want to look into whether or not you can rent it out when you aren’t using it. Doing this can help to lower your cost of ownership while also keeping the house from sitting empty for too long.
- Work with an expert agent. Waterfront property isn’t simple. Between the title issues, the structural issues and the unique way that the market looks at the property, many real estate agents can’t effectively help you through the purchasing process. A real estate agent that specializes in waterfront homes and land will know which questions to ask, who to involve in the transaction, and how to help you achieve your dream of home ownership on the water.