MANGROVE REALTY ASSOCIATES
Lori Madden, MANGROVE REALTY ASSOCIATES
Email: [email protected]

What to Look For Before Buying a Waterfront Home

by Lori Madden 05/17/2020

Photo by timokefoto  via Pixabay

Buying property can be fun, but it can also be exhausting. You want to find a place that fits your personal lifestyle and invest in a home that'll bring you years of happiness. As you're looking at shorefront real estate:

1. Understand Your Access Rights to the Water

On the surface, it may look like a no-brainer that you have access to the water, but many people learn the hard way that their beautiful waterfront views don't have easements that allow access to the lake, pond, or ocean. Most people don't want a beautiful view of the water without being able to use it.

2. Know Your Waterfront Buffer Zones

State and local regulations may prohibit your landscaping plans from making forward progress if you're too close to tidal waters. Know the buffer zones before you buy so you're not stuck with a landscape you don't love.

3. Learn Your Littoral Rights

If you purchase waterfront real estate, you may very well be granted littoral rights—that is, you'd have unrestricted rights to use that water as though it was land. The government may also own the water up to a certain point, so it's best to gain this knowledge up front.

4. Know if You have Riparian Rights

If you purchase a non-riparian waterfront property, you likely won't be able to have a private dock or pier on the water. Since this is one of the major reasons people want to own waterfront property, it's important to understand these rights before you buy.

5. Understand Your Obligations Regarding Water Depth

You don't have any control over Mother Nature, but you do often have certain obligations in terms of what you're permitted to do in certain water depths. You may need to build a deck farther out into the water than you'd first anticipated in order adhere to depth regulations.

6. Look at the Fixtures Surrounding the Property

Certain watercraft, such as sailboats, need far more clearance than others. If your potential property is directly next to fixed-height bridges that wouldn't enable you to enjoy leisure time on your sailboat, that may not be the best home for you. Alternatively, people who enjoy kayaking wouldn't need to be concerned with fixed-height structures. In fact, those areas might be best for this type of buyer.

7. Research Regulations Impacting Docks and Piers

It's not atypical to have to purchase pier permits. Depending on your location, these regulations may be governed by federal, state, or local institutions. It's best to have an idea of the cost before you get your heart set on a single property.

8. Include Flood Insurance in Your Monthly Costs

Natural disasters can bolster the cost of flood insurance. Even if you think you'll never need it, a waterfront property is always best protected when flood insurance is calculated into the cost.

9. Know How Secluded You Really Want to Be

Waterfront real estate is appealing because it's quiet and serene, but if this will be your year-round residence, make sure you've taken winter into consideration if you're looking for lakefront property where snowfall can change the landscape quickly. Super-secluded spots can make it difficult to get to the store when blizzards hit, so you may want to look for a place that has easy access to shopping. However, if you're willing to rough it, or if you'll only be using the property in the summer, seclusion is a great way to go! Of course, if you're looking for beachfront property in Florida, parts of California or the Carolinas, winters won't really be a concern you'll have to worry about.

10. Explore the Pros and Cons of Private Beaches Versus Public Shores

There are pros and cons to each. Make sure you have an idea what you're looking for before you and your real estate agent start house-hunting, but be open to possibilities if your real estate agent has a property they insist you must see.

As you're shopping for waterfront real estate, be sure to keep these tips in mind. The more you know, the more likely you'll be to find a home that makes you happy for many years to come. Contact me if you have questions about buying waterfront property!

About the Author
Author

Lori Madden

As a Florida native growing up in Sarasota, I have seen my hometown grow from a sleepy coastal town to a highly sought-after destination along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. After working in Chicago for 5 years, I returned to Sarasota and saw it through a new lens and really began to appreciate what makes Sarasota so desirable, including temperatures that allow for year round outdoor activities including tennis (a personal favorite), golf, boating, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, or just relaxing and/or shelling on our pristine sandy shores, including Dr. Beach’s #1 beach in the United States for 2017, Siesta Key! Sarasota’s cultural amenities are many and diverse, appealing to a wide range of arts lovers. Downtown Sarasota has become a destination in itself, drawing many new developments for those who want to be within walking distance of Main Street's offerings and the picturesque bayfront and marina. Foodies will find an eclectic mix of locally owned and operated restaurants offering something for everyone, and there are now Farmers Markets every day of the week in various locations throughout Sarasota, but the Saturday morning Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota draws the biggest crowds. Since 1988, my passion has been selling real estate, representing both buyers and sellers. I have been recognized by my clients and customers for an uncompromising work ethic and dedication to helping them achieve their real estate goals. Relying on my experience as a real estate paralegal and being highly organized, I am able to help make the transition between contract and closing a smooth one for my clients. With an eye for interior and landscape design, I've been known to pitch in and help Sellers minimize and/or reorganize their belongings in order to stage their home to maximize its sale potential. I specialize in out of state buyers looking for their piece of paradise along the Gulf Coast and make it a priority to keep them up to date on our quickly changing local real estate market. I welcome the opportunity to share with you all Sarasota and her surrounding islands have to offer!