Waterfront homes in France.

What To Know About Buying A Waterfront Property

Carey Chesney4-Minute Read
August 07, 2020

Waves lapping up on the shore as you stretch out in a deck chair with your favorite drink and book. We all think about it from time to time. Few things in life can combine serenity and excitement so perfectly as owning a house on the water, but there are a few things to consider before taking that – ahem – plunge.

Is Waterfront Property A Good Investment?

It sure can be. Waterfront properties tend to appreciate more than landlocked houses, so if you find one for a good price, chances are you’ll be cashing in if and when you decide to sell. In addition, rental rates for waterfront properties tend to be higher and they’re always in high demand. With the traditional barriers to renting coming down due to companies like Airbnb, the potential to bring in passive income while also enjoying the lake or beach life is ever more attainable. Even more than most real estate, waterfront property is all about location and demand. So, while no investment is ever guaranteed, an investment with a view is usually a safer bet than an investment without one.

What Is Considered Waterfront Property?

At this point you may be asking “what is waterfront?” Simply put, waterfront property pertains to any land on the edge of a body of water. While that may seem simple, the variables on the quality, quantity and usability of the water are seemingly endless. Beachfront property for example, describes land that is located on or adjacent to a beach. So, the two terms are not synonymous, meaning not all waterfront property is considered beachfront property. Does the backyard of the property lead to a soft and sandy beach? Or are there jagged rocks and cliffs the moment you leave the porch? Is the water crystal clear and perfect for swimming? Or are the weeds so high in the shallows that getting a boat from your dock to the channel is nearly impossible? These are just a few of the characteristics to think about when deciding what you’re looking for.  Having the moniker of “waterfront” does not necessarily mean you’ve found the waterfront home that’s right for you.

Why Are Waterfront Properties More Expensive?

For many of the same reasons waterfront properties tend to be better investments, the cost of purchasing tends to be higher. They’re in higher demand, so there are more people willing to pay more for them and their locations are usually premium ones. This can result in you having to outbid other potential buyers to get them. In addition to these real estate tenants of location and demand, there are some additional costs associated with waterfront property that can make buying them more expensive. For example, there are often different types of insurance required when buying on the water like wind insurance, water insurance and general hazard insurance, to name a few. They also often have a homeowners association (HOA), which means monthly dues need to be entered into the equation. In addition, HOAs as well as government agencies can regulate what you can and can’t do with properties, especially on the waterfront, so future costs associated with these rules and regulations need to be accounted for as well. Costs associated with your mortgage can be different as well, so research that in the beginning before you fall in love with that beautiful lake house.

How Do I Sell My Waterfront Property?

Many of the key factors in selling any property like presenting it well, pricing it right, understanding the best time of year to sell and selecting the right agent also apply to waterfront properties. However, there are a few elements to pay closer attention to when selling on the water. Here are a few of them:

  • Accentuate the views: Quality photos and videos are critical to selling any property, but even more so with waterfront. Make sure to include those breathtaking sunsets and boats spotted across the bay when listing your home. 
  • Pay attention to the staging: Whether doing it yourself or hiring a professional staging company, make sure the fun and exciting parts of owning a waterfront home are on display. Put some wine glasses next to those deck chairs and sprinkle a few kayaks on the beach. With waterfront, you are selling a lifestyle, not just a home.
  • Make the shoreline or dock accessible: When thinking about buying a waterfront home, people like to envision themselves meandering from the house down to the water. Make sure the path is clear and clean so potential buyers can make this trek during a showing.
  • Massive curb appeal: Curb appeal is critical to selling any home, but with waterfront properties, you have a 360-degree curb appeal that goes as far as the eye can see. In addition to making the front look inviting as you would with any home, make sure the back is just as pristine and maybe even consider doing some beach combing and cleaning before showings. 

Now that you know what to look for and the right things to consider, you can start searching for that waterfront property of your dreams and putting the right mortgage in place to snatch it up. Before long you’ll be firing up that Jet Ski, putting on that snorkel, raising those sails or just sliding into that deck chair with a drink and book in hand.

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    Carey Chesney

    Carey Chesney brings a wealth of real estate sales and marketing experience to his buyers and sellers as they navigate highly competitive markets. Carey and his wife Ilze work together as Realtors® in Michigan.