A Brief Guide to Buying Lakefront

There is something special about living near the water. Beautiful views, ample recreation opportunities, and superior property values make waterfront living the preferred choice for millions of homeowners. When thinking about a home on the water, your mind probably jumps to homes on the ocean. However, lakefront living offers all the benefits of oceanfront without the annoying salt and potentially devastating weather. In this post, you will learn about special considerations to make when looking for lakefront property that you might otherwise overlook if you are used to landlocked homes.

Is It the Right Lake for You?

Beyond being wet, every lake has its own particular characteristics that make it unique. Therefore, when shopping for a lakefront home, always remember to examine the lake along with the property. Keep in mind what specific things make the idea of living on a lake appeal to you, and investigate whether a given lake meets those needs. For instance, if you love fishing, you will want to be sure that the lake has a healthy fish population and easy access to fishing locations. Specific questions that you may want to ask include "Does this lake have the type of fish I like to catch?", "Can I fish from shore or do I need a boat?", and "Are there special laws regarding fishing on this lake?" Depending on your interests, other potential topics/questions that you might want to ask about the lake include:

  • Does the lake freeze in winter?
  • Are there laws about noise or structures on the shore?
  • How crowded does the lake become in summer?
  • Are boats allowed on the lake? What type?
  • Does the lake have a muddy, sandy, or rocky bottom?

Lakefront Homes Are a Different Breed

When shopping for any home, there are thousands of questions that you want to ask before signing on the dotted line. However, just as there are questions to ask about the lake, there are also special considerations to make regarding the home itself. In addition to the usual questions, other things to ask about a lakefront home include:

  • Is the property prone to flooding?
  • Which direction does the home face? Light and wind coming off the lake may influence your preference.
  • Is the shoreline in good condition (erosion, docks, etc)?
  • Is there sufficient privacy from boaters?
  • How is the view?

Don't Be Scared by the Price

Because of the desirability and limited supply of waterfront homes, a buyer should expect to pay a premium above similar landlocked homes. How much of a premium? The answer to this questions will vary greatly depending on the location and the lake itself, but one analysis from 2014 found that lakefront homes had an average premium of 15% compared to other homes between 2000-2012. When looking at only lakes larger than 100 acres in area, that number jumped to 25%, and the trend appeared to continue upward with lake size. While the higher price may turn off some buyers, it is important to remember that the home will also command a higher price when the day comes to sell it.

Purchasing a home is always a huge financial decision, but this is even more true for lakefront homes because of their premium prices. Likewise, the importance of hiring a professional real estate agent is magnified by the specific considerations involved with lakefront homes. When looking at lakefront properties, it is important to find an agent who is knowledgeable and experienced with buying and selling lakefront properties, as they are most likely to improve the outcome of your search!

Bonus Reading: Flathead Lake Facts

Now that you know exactly what to look for in your lakeside home, why not consider the amazing Flathead Lake? There are tons of things that make Flathead Lake an incredible and unique location. For instance, did you know that the lake has a maximum depth of 370 feet? Or that it only freezes completely about once every ten years? Or that, even though the last sentence is true, this hasn't happened since January of 1990?

That is just a taste of the information available about Flathead Lake. If you would like to learn more, check out the wonderful Flathead Lake Biological Station website!