The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Waterfront Property

Do you dream of walking out your front door to stunning scenery, tranquil surroundings, and soothing sounds of water lapping along the edges of your property? As it turns out, you can easily achieve that dream! Waterfront properties can be found all over the country along coastal cities, set at the shores of vast lakes, or quietly nestled next to scenic rivers. Homeowners who are privileged to live in the lap of waterfront luxury gain access to their very own resort-style oasis. 

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If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and purchasing a little slice of heaven along the water, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider. In this article, we’ll take a look at the types of waterfront properties, the benefits of living along the water, and a guide to familiarize you with the home-buying process. 

Types of Property

The first thing that you’ll want to clearly understand is the various terms you’ll come across as you search for waterfront properties. Many people have been fooled by a real estate ad boasting the peaceful surrounding water only to find out that the property is not waterfront, but water access. 

The three main types of properties that you may come across while searching specifically for waterfront homes include: 

  • Waterview
    A waterview home means that the homeowner can view the lake, ocean, or river near the property. This type of home is generally more affordable than a waterfront property while still reaping the benefits of beautiful views. 
  • Water Access
    A home that includes water access means the homeowner can easily reach the water via a shared pathway, beach, or pier, but you won’t have direct access to the water. Many of these properties include private dock access. 
  • Waterfront
    To be classified as a true waterfront property, the plot of land that the home is situated on must have direct access to the water. The banks of the water need to back right onto the property and in some cases include a dock, boathouse, or a small beach area

Benefits of Living Along the Waterfront 

There are so many fantastic reasons to purchase a waterfront property! The benefits of this particular luxury are clearly evident to all the lucky homeowners who can indulge in the lifestyle. Whether you’re seeking a full-time residence or a resort-style oasis to retreat to in the summer months, you can reap the following benefits, and then some!

Breathtaking Views 
One of the main reasons that people search out waterfront properties is to drink in the incredible views that come with the territory. Walking out onto your deck to look out over tranquil waters is worth every extra penny that you'll pay for the privilege! Whether you live along the vast ocean coastline or a beautiful, babbling brook, the sounds of the water will soothe away all your stress and anxiety. 

Calming Atmosphere
The sights and sounds that come from any body of water is one of the ultimate settings to achieve rest and relaxation. There’s something about being surrounded by nature’s beauty that provides instant calm and relaxation to all exposed to this peaceful setting. Waterfront living will allow you to jump into vacation mode at any moment. 

Investment Opportunities
There are two options to consider when you buy a waterfront property: create a home there year-round, or own the property as a vacation home to use at your leisure. If you’re planning on living onsite part-time, you can consider renting out your little slice of heaven while you’re not occupying the space. This can provide a little extra income to help finance your two properties. 

Recreational Opportunities
Those with a taste for adventure will reap the benefits of living near open water. Having access to a dock is perfect for boat-owners who love nothing more than to escape to the water for a thrilling afternoon of water-skiing or a relaxing fishing excursion. Depending on the condition of the water and the local rules and regulations, many waterfront-dwellers can also host the ultimate pool party for their family and friends! 

Inspiration Abounds
Amidst the beauty of nature’s finest, many people draw inspiration from the spectacular scenery. Plenty of creative people are drawn to waterside properties to fully engage their artistic side and to find their muse. The calm, natural landscapes are also the perfect backdrop for photographers of all skill levels any time of the year. 

Related Post: Moving to and Living in Hilton Head Island, S.C. - The Definitive Guide

How to Acquire a Waterfront Property 

Any real estate purchase is a major decision that takes a lot of time and consideration. When you’re thinking of buying a waterfront property, there are a few extra factors to keep in mind during the buying process. If you’re a little nervous or unsure about the experience, here’s a guide that’ll give you an idea of what you can expect. 

Hire an agent who’s familiar with waterfront properties. 

When you’re considering the real estate agent who is going to assist you through the home-buying process, you’ll want to find someone who has experience with waterfront properties. Someone who often deals with this type of real estate will guide you through what questions to ask the seller, they’ll be able to identify any potential structural issues during a walkthrough, and they’ll understand the necessary terms that come up during the back-and-forth discussions between sellers, realtors, and lawyers. 

Inspect the property carefully and thoroughly. 

When a home is located within close proximity to water, there are different measures to put into place to ensure proper maintenance of the property, both land and structure. During your tour of a potential purchase, keep a close eye out for any potential damage caused by the extra moisture in the air including mold or mildew. Oceanfront properties are at a higher risk for corrosion on the exterior structure due to the salt in the air. If the home has a basement, be on the lookout for any damage caused by water seeping into the base of the home. 

Research the history of the shoreline. 

It’s important to take a look at the progression of the shoreline surrounding your potential home. Over the years, water and dirt will mix in unpredictable ways that could cause the shoreline to shift and change. This could go one of two ways: the shoreline could be receding over time, which means that your beautiful waterfront home will become farther and farther away from your property. Alternatively, the shoreline could be gradually sneaking up closer to your home, threatening the integrity of any structures on the property. 

Request to make multiple visits to the property. 

Once you’ve found a property that you’re truly interested in, you’ll want to book a return visit to ensure that this is really the right home for you. When you book that visit, you’ll want to make sure you see the property in a completely different light. You can achieve this by visiting at a different time of day and on a different day of the week. If you first saw the property during the day in the middle of the week, aim to return around sunset on the weekend. This will not only allow you to see what the place looks like in a different light, but you’ll get a feel for how busy the area is when people may be out and about more frequently. 

Inquire about potential hidden costs. 

There are plenty of hidden costs that many first-time homebuyers don’t think about when they are creating their budget such as insurance, property tax, maintenance, and any repairs and renovations that may be required. When it comes to waterfront property, there are a few additional unanticipated costs that may spring up. Some of these expenses may include:

  • Boat and dock fees
  • Water, sewer, and septic rates
  • Additional lawn maintenance
  • Rural utility fees
  • Lease lots
  • Bulkhead maintenance

If you’ve hired a real estate agent who’s familiar with waterfront properties, they’ll be able to guide you and help you determine which fees you’ll need to be prepared for. 

Understand the specific insurance requirements. 

Waterfront properties come with additional risks and potential damages due to the proximity to water, which generally leads to higher insurance costs. Homeowners who live near the water need to take into account the increased risk of flood damage, hurricane and earthquake damage, strong winds, and natural wear and tear caused by the added moisture or salt in the air. It’s important to understand what additional insurance requirements you’ll need to take on in order to stick to your budget and keep yourself safe from costly repairs in the future. 

Be aware of your current and future finances. 

If you’re planning to own a waterfront property as a second home, you need to be prepared for the financial commitment you’re making. Owning a vacation home means you have twice the mortgage payments, twice the insurance fees, and twice the maintenance costs. The good thing about investing in a waterfront property is that you have options. Renting out space during the time that you’re living in your main place of residence will bring in additional income that can help you to support your two properties. If you have ownership of a beautiful waterfront property, people will pay top dollar to experience that lifestyle for a short amount of time; all you need to do is make sure that the property stays in decent shape and you take extra care to keep your home clean and fresh. 

Understand all the rules and regulations of the area. 

Many regions, particularly cottage and resort regions, have set rules and regulations for the tenants residing within their borders. This can include property maintenance, water laws, such as which type of motorized or non-motorized vessels are allowed on the water, noise limitations, and garbage disposal options. Before you commit to any property, you need to fully understand what these rules and regulations entail and be willing to adhere to them. 

The time and effort involved in purchasing a waterfront property is a tad more complex and tedious than buying traditional, land-locked property, but the rewards are incredibly worth it! Whether you’re intending to relocate to a more private and tranquil setting, investing in a private vacation home, or seeking out the ideal place to spend your retirement years, there is nothing more luxurious than living along a peaceful body of water. For those who are able to make such an incredible purchase, a waterfront lifestyle is the final say in rest, relaxation, and luxury.