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Waterfront Homes

Five questions to ask when buying a waterfront property

You’ll always have questions to ask as you set out to buy a new home. When buying a waterfront property, don’t forget to ask the seller and the seller’s agent these specific questions.

1. Who manages the lake weed? Does the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) control the lake weed?
If no, then ask the seller how they controlled the lake weed in their area of the water, and how much they spent annually on these efforts.

2. What is the lakeshore like? Is the shoreline rocky, mucky, sandy?
Does the depth of the water progress naturally, or is there a steep drop-off after a few feet. When buying a lakefront property, consider who will be enjoying your new home - if you want to spend time sitting right on the beach, you’ll want it to be sandy and flat. If you have small children, you won’t want too deep a drop close to shore.

3. What use do you get out of the lake? Are you an avid skier? Fisher?
Do you live for your jet skis? Make sure you can use the lake for your preferred activities. If you want to fish, ask the seller what types of fish they’ve caught on the lake, and where (if any) the quiet areas for fishing are located. If you know that speed boating and skiing will be your primary reason for buying a waterfront property, ask the seller about the traffic on the lake. Remember that it’s difficult to ski on lakes that are under 150 acres. Swimmers should ask again about weed control to ensure they can swim freely without getting caught in the greenery below. Last, ask how big the waves get on windy days – extremely large lakes can generate huge waves that make recreational water activity difficult.

4. Does the water level fluctuate?
Your REALTOR® will be able to help ask the right questions when discussing potential flooding issues with the seller and the seller’s agent. Be sure to ask if the water level has ever fluctuated dangerously when the winter runoff melts. How does a fluctuation in water level affect access to the lake? Has the property ever been in danger of flooding? Does the area have flood plains restrictions, which make it difficult to secure flood insurance? Do the owners currently have flood insurance in place? Do your due diligence on the issue of water levels – it’s easy to fall in love with a property mid-summer, but you must consider what the property is like year-round.

5. Are we buying the dock, too?
If the seller is moving from one waterfront property to another, they may plan on taking their dock with them. Ask if the dock is included, and then ask for further information on installing and taking the dock out. Is the dock on posts or wheels? How many people does the deck installation require? Is there a place on the land that can easily store the dock in the winter, or did they previously rent a storage locker?

Should you buy a lake home or a cabin?

When purchasing a waterfront property, you’ll have to answer many questions about the lifestyle you are trying to achieve. Before you begin searching it’s important to determine if you are looking to buy a lake home or a cabin.

It’s not just about time, though – you should also consider the upkeep. If you buy a cabin as a weekend getaway, you’ll likely have to hire trusted contractors to check in on and work on the home when you’re away during the week. You’ll also spend time on your weekends keeping up the cabin. Meanwhile, a lake home will require more maintenance than a non-waterfront property of the same size, but it’s easier to spread out those chores if you’re living there full-time. Enough about work – let’s talk about the joys of owning a lakefront home! Consider why you’re looking at waterfront real estate.

Do you want a private retreat that offers the appeal of a weekly vacation? Do you like a cozy abode where you can quietly work on projects or fish the days away? If so, a Realtor will tell you you’re a good candidate to buy a cabin.

Perhaps the lazy like life doesn’t interest you, though. Those who want a steady stream of visitors, as well as a more upscale vibe to their waterfront property, will prefer an updated lake home with plenty of extra bedrooms for visiting family and friends.

Of course, price and location are two variables that should always be included when buying a home. Work with your Realtor to determine the budget and general area in which you’d like to purchase a lakefront property.

Purchasing a waterfront property can bring up a lot of questions. Whether it’s a secluded cabin retreat or a more modern full-time lake home, you’ll certainly find a listing that gives you the lakeshore lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of. Contact the Vanneste Group we specialize in lakeshore properties!