Lake Homes: More Than Just Waterfront

When you hear, “lake home,” those words can conjure a variety of images. Contrary to popular belief, not all lake homes are waterfront homes.

As a matter of fact, many people who own lake houses aren’t even close to the waterfront! Because of this, many lake homes are more affordable than you might think.

There are three major types of lake property: lakefront, lake access, and lake community. Each of these have their own pros and cons, both functionally and financially.

looking out at the lake through window

Waterfront Property

Lakefront, also known as “waterfront,” property extends to the shore of the lake itself.

It offers the most prestige, the most access, and a direct line to the lake right out your door.

Lakefront property can be incredibly beautiful, and there’s nothing like looking out your back patio directly onto the calm waters of the lake in the evening.

Naturally, such prestige comes with a high price tag. Waterfront property is significantly more expensive than similar property even a block away from the water.

It also brings with it many more responsibilities.

Waterfront property is the most vulnerable to flooding, erosion and inclement weather. There are often special insurance requirements, and upkeep can be a significant commitment of time and money.

If you plan to build or improve on waterfront property, make sure your plans fit with the local regulations. Many lakes have restrictions on docks, signage and landscaping.

Since there is a limited amount of shoreline on each lake, property on the water’s edge often appreciates the fastest.

Waterfront is also very attractive to vacationers. This can pay dividends if you intend to rent it out.

Waterfront property is perfect for those who have their heart set on the water’s edge, and have the time and money to maintain it.

Lake View Property

“Lake view” property, also known as “lake access,” is near the water, but does not extend to the lake itself.

This property can be a literal stone’s throw away from the water and is often just as picturesque as lakefront.

Prices vary from lake to lake, but lake view property is typically much less expensive than lakefront.

Lake view property isn’t as scarce, doesn’t have the same water access and doesn’t have the convenience or prestige of being directly on the waterfront.

At the same time, lake view can give many of the benefits of waterfront, at a fraction of the cost or the headaches.

Owners still typically have easy access to the lake, without needing to maintain their own stretch of shoreline. Weatherproofing and maintenance costs aren’t as significant, either.

Most lake communities have options for those who live on the lake to enjoy its benefits. Marinas can store boats until you need it, and there are usually access points for swimming, fishing and water sports.

If you want property close to the water’s edge, but have a limited budget, lake view property may be for you.

Lake Community

Most lakes have neighborhoods arrayed about them. Many of these homes aren’t within clear view of the water’s edge, but are still very much part of the lake community.

Homes situated in a lake community a short distance from the water can cost a fraction of waterfront property.

Nicole Anderson Walters, a Lake Homes Realty agent specializing in real estate on Logan Martin Lake, Alabama, offered, “you can save money by being in a lake view or lake access neighborhood. Many have water views and community areas with boat launch.”

“Where a home may cost you $89 per square foot off the water, the same home could cost upwards of $168-$200+ per square foot directly on the water,” she added. “You can often find a much nicer home off the water with amenities in the neighborhood.”

Depending on the size of the lake, these neighborhoods can range from high-end gated communities, to condos and cabins, to retirement communities and everyday suburbs.

These lake communities are often a short drive to a short walk or drive to the lake itself, but still have easy access to fishing, swimming, boating and other lake activities.

As an added benefit, most avoid many of the upkeep costs and restrictions associated with lakefront property.

Many communities are also situated near state parks, landmarks, shopping centers and other attractions. If these appeal to you more than living near the water, look for lake communities within a short distance of the lake.

Find what works for you!

Every lake is different.

In addition to those listed here, market prices can vary greatly between lakes. If you can’t find the kind of property you are looking for at one lake, look for others nearby.

You may find a hidden gem right under your nose!

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