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Tips for Buying Waterfront Property

  1. Work with a waterfront specialist. It’s important to choose a real estate agent with specific experience in navigating the caveats of waterfront sales. Our HomeLight agents on The Sarver Group can help!
  2. Don’t skimp on inspections. Besides the basic home inspection, you should also consider a foundation inspection, a seawall inspection, and possibly even a soil and water inspection. Ask your real estate agent for help.
  3. Make sure you get flood insurance. Even if the FEMA map says you don’t “need” it, flood insurance is a good idea when there’s water right outside your door. At an average of $642 per year, it’s a relatively cheap coverage considering the potential for damage.
  4. Don’t get carried away imagining a lifestyle you don’t currently live. One look at the lake might have you canoeing every day in your mind. But is that realistic considering your current stage of life?
  5. Consider adverse weather and what it could do to the house. Coastal areas are prone to storms –– is your house prepared? Ask your agent and inspector about storm readiness factors including windows, doors, roof construction, and hurricane measures (if applicable).
  6. Know what improvements you can and cannot make. HOA bylaws and local government ordinances for waterfront communities can dictate improvements on both land and water. For instance, you may be limited in terms of the length or type of dock you can build.
  7. Talk to the neighbors. Good questions to ask include questions about:
    • Noise levels
    • Community involvement
    • Area wildlife
    • Rules that may or may not be noted on the listing
    • Safety protocols (especially around swimming and boating)
    • Any recent or upcoming assessments, such as dredging or water quality
    • Overall costs
  8. Check utility costs. Your real estate agent can ask for utility cost estimates from the listing agent.
  9. Look at dock and outbuilding permits. Make sure that any buildings and docks have been properly permitted in order to ensure compliance with local laws.
  10. Research the water itself. Have an analysis of the water done in order to determine its safety for swimming and watersports. Research the channels surrounding the home, along with their depths and wake speeds.
  11. Pay close attention to comps to make sure they are fair. Make sure that comps include important factors, such as similar water frontage and seawall age, as well as traditional lot and house statistics.

Waterfront property can be a great purchase, as long as buyers go in with eyes wide open. Be cautious and intentional in your search, so that your waterfront home can be everything you dreamed it would be!


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