- Sometimes, But Not Always: Not every lake home is on the water. There are many options available including lakefront, lake access, and lake view.
- Lakefront: This property is also known as waterfront, and is actually on the water. The home has direct access to the lake.
- Lakeview: These homes are some distance away from the lake, but have a beautiful view of it from where they are. For some, the view is the highlight of lake living.
- Lake Community: Typically a large community with plenty of amenities including golf courses and clubhouse access. You’ll also be a fair distance from the water but said amenities will more than make up for it.
- Office Cost vs. Service Capabilities: Money is being invested in an office space, and not reinvested in efforts to help agents buy/sell a home.
- Reasons Change: Before the digital age, offices were necessary for running the business. Now, all important documents/information can be stored on computers, phones, etc.
- Lake Home Buyers are Rarely Local: Potential buyers are not limited to the local community. Most of the time they will come from all across the nation.
- Value of Time: Stopping by the office before touring homes can feel like an unnecessary detour, especially for out-of-town buyers.
At Lake Homes Realty, we’re always talking about finding your dream home. We emphasize the importance of connecting with local real estate agents who have national expertise to guide your personalized search. Part of what our agents do so well is tailor their recommendations to what you’re looking for. A lake home for retirement? A lake area with a lot of families? We can help. We’re here to help you circumvent common buyer mistakes and help you pick a lake home that suits you.
In finding this dream home, a common mistake that buyers make is overlooking the importance of a lake community’s culture. A buyer may think that a neighborhood checks off all their boxes, but they forget to assess the cultural feel of the lake community. To understand more about this topic, we talked with Katie Severance, real estate agent and author of The Brilliant Home Buyer. Through her insights, we’re here to share some important ways to be a smarter buyer and find the right lake community for you.
Look for Signs of Expansion
When looking for a lake community, it’s tempting to assess the area based on what features already exist. However, communities are constantly changing, and it’s more helpful to assess the community fit based on the trajectory in which the area is headed. Katie says, “See if there’s going to be an arrival or expansion of a nearby university, park, hotel, hospital, anything that’s coming soon. Nothing will have more of an impact on your home than the value of a community.” If you’re looking to live in a lake area with an up-and-coming lively scene full of amenities, ask about these expansion plans.
Ask for the Town Hall Minutes
You can tell a lot about a lake community by how it’s run. A lot of homeowners bypass this consideration, but Katie encourages asking yourself: “If there’s an HOA and town council, are they dysfunctional? Do they get along? Are they running efficiently?” One way to investigate this is by asking for six months worth of minutes from the local town hall. Not only will you determine how well-run they are, but you’ll also get insight into what issues are prevalent in the community. Katie also advises getting a copy of their bylaws and rules and regulations, if they exist. This will tell you how you’re allowed to use the water, and what the restrictions are in terms of access and land use.
Another important consideration to look for in these minutes is indicators of the town’s politics. “A lot of communities skew one way or the other,” Katie says, “If you’re a liberal in a conservative area, you’re going to be unhappy.”
Check the News and Social Media
If anything bad has happened in your potential neighborhood (e.g., environmental concerns, crime issues, etc.) chances are, it would be reported in the newspaper of the nearest town or city. “Put the town in quotes in Google,” Katie advises. “A real estate agent isn’t allowed to talk with you about crime, and they also don’t have to tell you if someone died in the house.” Googling these potential issues in the news will help cover your bases.
Another great tool is social media. In addition to asking the realtor what the culture of the community is like, Katie suggests using social media “to see how people see how people talk to and treat each other.”
Know Your Neighbors
One of the best ways to learn about your lake community’s culture is by getting to know your neighbors. Use Facebook groups to check in with people who live there, let them know you’re looking to buy a home, and ask your questions. Another neighbor-related consideration is checking what percentage of homeowners are year-round residences. “In a co-op, the value of the building is higher if they are owner-occupied. At a lake house, this isn’t quite the same but you might have renters who are loud and obnoxious,” she explains. “If it’s a giant lake VRBO, that wouldn’t be a good choice. It’s a really hard thing to remedy.”
In your search for your dream lake community, be sure to contact one of our lake agents who will help personalize your search.
- Not the 2008 Market: Unlike the 2008 market, there is a shortage of homes, which means high competition and a low probability of getting a home.
- Banks are Well-Positioned: With the economy doing as well as it is, banks no longer have to liquidate these houses because there is rising demand for these homes. Banks are also able to renegotiate with current homeowners.
- Majority Do Not Have a Mortgage: More than half of the lake homes transitions are in cash, which means there is no one to foreclose them.
When buying a lake home, it’s important to put yourself in the best position. This means understanding the market, or working with an agent who does. Lake Homes Realty’s CEO, Glenn Phillips gives four tips for leveraging backup offers for lake home buying.
- Patience: Being in a hurry to buy a lake home can damage the chances of a purchase being made. Leveraging backup offers means waiting for an offer to fall through.
- Add Contingencies: Ensuring a higher quality offer with contingencies can
- Don’t Ask, Just Submit: Instead of waiting while more offers can be made, submitting your offer can put you in the best position.
- No Guarantees: While an offer may seem perfect, nothing is guaranteed.
Selling your lake home doesn’t have to be difficult. Set yourself up for success and work with an agent who knows not only your lake area but the lake house market!
Finding your dream lake home isn’t easy. Sometimes, you’ll have to sacrifice certain “nice-to-haves” for the sake of securing your “non-negotiable” qualities in a lake home. However, the solution to attaining your dream home might be to create aspects of it yourself. Investing in a fixer-upper can be an excellent opportunity to customize a home to your liking and increase your return on investment for an eventual sale. Plus, there are plenty of DIY solutions to fixing up a property. Check out these insider tips on buying a fixer-upper lake home from real estate experts across the country.
Know Your Numbers
Whether it’s a lake property or a residential home, every buyer should know their numbers. “Run your flip like a business — because it is!” says Charlie Mackey, director of investment solutions at Sundae. “Start with the 70% rule. You should not pay more than 70% of the After Repair Value (ARV) of a property or what the house can be sold for after completing all work and renovations. Think of this number as a starting point.”
Knowing your numbers can help eliminate any cost surprises in the long run. It can also help you decide if a property is worth the money. “You’ll never be 100%, but you can be as close as possible,” says Bill Samuel, a residential real estate developer who specializes in rehabbing and selling houses. “Know what your total development cost will be at the end of the day. The most important thing is: what’s the property going to be worth when you finish, and is that number versus your total cost worth it?”
Look for the Bones
When you’re buying a fixer-upper, it’s not the inside that counts — it’s the structure. You’ll be renovating the interior, but you want to make sure the overall frame of the home is sound. “Look for the bones,” says real estate expert Steve Laret. “Look at the dock, pilings, roof, walls, the stuff that isn’t ‘sexy money’ to spend.” If everything on the outside of the home is intact, including the electrical wiring, plumbing, and a termite inspection, then you can spend your money on aesthetics alone. “Run away from a place that needs a new roof, tons of tree work, or is completely shaded. They are not going to return your investment,” he says.
Invite a Contractor
These days, buyers are savvier than ever. However, it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion — especially one who’s an expert. “Don’t be afraid to have a contractor walk a property with you,” says Henry Washington, a real estate investor who specializes in buying and renovating homes. “A lot of times, people THINK they know how much a renovation will cost, but they don’t actually know. The expense of fixing foundations can be cheap or expensive, and it’s hard for an expert to know the difference. Have a professional give you a quote.”
In particular, a contractor may help you search for things like cracks in the walls that you might not notice. These could indicate a problem in your home’s foundation, and you may want to offer less for the property.
A contractor can also offer insight into the home’s electrical wiring. “If you’re not experienced with doing a lot of construction, stick to a house that wasn’t built over 100 years ago because you’re going to wind up with way too many surprises,” says Samuel. This is because 100 years ago, there were no building codes for electricity.
If your house is too old and is not up to code, you will be responsible for the costly fees of updating the wiring if you were to open a wall. Bringing a contractor on-site could help you catch things like this — the little things that come with a hefty price tag.
Seek ROI Opportunities
After buying a fixer-upper, you’re going to be doing a lot of the work. Be prepared by knowing what you’re working with and looking for the home’s potential rather than evaluating it based on its current state.
For lake houses, adding bedrooms means adding value because you will be paid more whenever you rent it out or if you want to sell it one day. “Look for places where the square footage and the number of bedrooms don’t add up,” says Washington. “That means that you can add a bedroom and still have a great-sized home.”
At a lake house, you may also want to take down trees to increase the lake view. However, this can be expensive, as Laret warns. It may be a better idea to consider other ways to let light into your home, such as changing the window treatments.
Hire a Lake Agent
Finally, when buying a fixer-upper on lakefront property, be sure to hire a lake-focused real estate agent. “Hire someone locally who knows all the nuances of the lake market,” Samuel says. “Know what the water quality is like, and other important factors about that lake. The more information you have, the better your decision will be.” At Lake Homes Realty, our lake agents have both local and national expertise and can help you find the property and lake area that’s right for you.
Are you thinking of buying your first lake home? Buying a lake home is unlike buying any other home so here are 5 important questions to ask when you know you are ready to buy.
- Dock Regulations? The rules and regulations on what you can and cannot do to a dock will vary from lake to lake. Some might not allow the existing docks to be modified. Before you decide to build one or fix up an existing dock, be sure you understand the regulations.
- Internet Access? Most people often think that the internet is widely accessible, but this is not always the case with lake homes. Sometimes houses on the lake are located in secluded, rural areas where internet access is not always readily available.
- Water Levels? Water levels vary on different lakes. Some lakes could have water levels that vary from day to day while some are seasonal. For instance, a lake might be at full capacity in the summertime and be completely dry in the winter.
- Boat Traffic? You might not realize that your ideal lake home is situated on an area of the lake that has high traffic. The buzzing of passersby might be appealing for some but if you’re looking for a more tranquil setting, an area with high boat traffic might not be a good fit for you.
- Grocery Store DRIVE Time? How long does it take to get to the nearest grocery store? Always calculate the time and not the distance because the shortest distance does not always equate to the fastest time and vice versa.
If you’re ready to make your very first lake home purchase, be sure to contact our lake experts to help guide you on this special journey.
These unprecedented times have changed the way we do business in real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling in 2021, here are 5 early thoughts from Lake Homes Realty’s CEO that you must consider.
- Safe Home Showings. Home showings are a lot safer than initially thought. Keeping a safe distance from others and wearing a mask have limited the risk of exposure. Though taking safety precautions such as wiping down surfaces and proper handwashing are still important, having proper air circulation within your property is imperative to ensure a safe home showing.
- Step-Up Basis Repeal. The new administration under Joe Biden has proposed major changes to the step-up in cost basis for capital gains tax. This could influence your decision to sell or keep your inherited property. Learn more about the Estate Tax Reform Proposal here.
- Buyer Demand. There is a huge demand from home buyers in this current market, but homes are only selling if they are appropriately priced. Be sure to enlist a professional agent to help you properly price your lake home for competing bid offers.
- ACT Immediately. Be ready to act immediately. If you find a home that is appropriately priced, be ready to buy because it might not be on the market the following week.
- Think Multiple Markets. When buyers are looking for lake homes, chances are they are shopping multiple lake areas in multiple states. If you’re a seller, you must think of selling your property in relation to other markets and price it accordingly. To get the full scope on lake properties in various markets, be sure to download our Lake Real Estate Market Report.
When you are considering buying a lake home, particularly in a rural area, here are 4 “Gotta Haves” you will have to keep in mind.
- Cell Signal
- Internet Access
- Television Service
- 24-Hour Emergency Room
There might be hundreds of miles of lake shoreline, one side of the lake might have these services while the other side might not. Also, the terrain of the lake areas might determine the availability of these services as well.
Our knowledgeable agents are here to help you answer these questions and assist you in your lake home-buying journey.