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Look Before You Leap

Don’t confuse the dream with reality when considering your waterfront home purchase.

Courtesy of Lakefront Living Realty

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When buyers see a home on the water for sale in their price range, there is often an overpowering urge to leap before they look. This can be a recipe for disaster, particularly with regard to the unique characteristics of property. While lakes and rivers in the same region can appear fairly similar and have many of the same attributes, you can rest assured that no two waterfront properties are exactly the same.

Buying lakefront and riverfront property is different than any other real estate. You’re not only buying a house, you’re buying a body of water and a lifestyle. It’s an experience that will change the way you live — it becomes a retreat to escape the hassles of daily living.

In shopping for waterfront property, knowing what questions to ask before signing on the dotted line is important. Perhaps even more critical is how you interpret the answers to those questions. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • Is the property serviced by an on-site septic system? If so, has the system passed state inspections? Be sure to get a copy of report.
  • If the property is serviced by town sewer, is there a betterment still to be paid? Who is paying it? What is the yearly cost of town sewer and water?
  • Does the property require flood insurance? If so, ask for a copy of the current policy and be sure to find out the cost per year.
  • Are there any easements associated with the property? Are the lake (or river) rights owned or shared? Be sure to obtain a current copy of the deed.
  • What are the conditions of the shoreline in the summer? Depth? Weed count, type? Obtain summer shoreline photos or speak with neighbors to verify conditions.
  • Are there any known defects in or around the property? Have the current homeowners completed any upgrades? Was the work permitted? Request copies from town departments.
  • Has the property been appraised recently? If so, when? Ask the seller how they arrived at the asking price and request to see recent comparable sales.
  • Does the area have an active lake or river association? If so, ask for updated contact information. Who manages and / or owns the lake?
  • Is the water level controlled? If so, how? Is it lowered in the winter? Is the water quality tested annually? Recent issues?
  • What recreational activities are allowed / not allowed on the lake or river? Are there dock restrictions? Ask for copy of Rules & Regulations.

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