Waterfront property can pretty alluring because you’re buying both land and the waterfront all in one swift stroke. After all, if you live there, it will be much like being on a perpetual vacation. Who doesn’t love gazing out at the water, whether it’s a lake home in New Hampshire or a view of the Atlantic Ocean from Quincy, Lynn, Marblehead, Provincetown, or Downtown Boston!
The majority of people purchasing waterfront property do so with the idea that they will be able to have a nice pristine body of water on their property for swimming, fishing, or simply the gorgeous views. Most people aren’t thinking about things like flood insurance, FEMA maps, and how to protect their home from storm surge.
Buying any property is typically a pretty complicated affair, but buying waterfront property comes with its own special set of complications. So make sure you know what you need to know before laying down your hard-earned cash. To help you out, here are 5 things you should know about buying waterfront property.
1. The Property May Be More Important than the House / Structure
When buying waterfront property, you should keep squarely in mind that the property itself may very well be a more important concern than the house or other structure that sits on it. So when it comes to waterfront property, often buyers fall in love with a house, but after they buy it, they realize the swimming is mucky, the view’s not very good, it’s difficult to get down to the water, or the place is not very private.
You can change the house, but you can’t change the location, so buy a property that you really love. If you are interested in buying waterfront property, whether it is a summer cottage or primary residence, it is still important to know beforehand the condition of the structure. Because of the high value of waterfront property located near bodies of water, many people buy property without taking into account the costs involved with maintaining them.
2. You May Be Limited in What You Can Do
Before you get locked into the purchase of waterfront property, you also need to find out exactly what you can – and can’t – do with and to the property. If you want to make changes or improvements to the property, make sure early on that you can, especially if any government agencies (which can be fairly strict) are involved.
Shoreline permits almost always come into play with homes near water. For additions and changes to your property near water, you will likely need to apply for a special land use permit for any project on a shoreline. Shoreline permits take a number of additional factors into consideration, such as:
- Environmental impacts to your project
- Intended use
- Public access considerations (if any)
- Height of development
- Views impacted
In addition, you need to find what kind of activities are and are not allowed on the water. Many areas have restrictions on jet skis and speed boats, and others don’t allow gasoline-powered watercraft at all.
3. You Must Talk to Neighbors and Look into Utilities
Similarly, be sure to talk to your potential neighbors to get a real feel for the property and the area. Ask them whether they enjoy living there and why, and whether they’ve had any specific issues or problems. They will also be a good resource to find out about restrictions.
And utilities may be a concern with waterfront property. Often, people who are accustomed to the convenience of suburban life may assume that electricity, clean water, an adequate septic system, cable and internet will be readily available at their new property, but this is not always the case. Bringing these services into remote areas can be very expensive, so investigate these issues before buying.
Also, be sure to consult your agent on both of these points for more information. To discover more about this, just call (617) 657-9811.
4. Insurance Will be Different and (Possibly) More Expensive
People who buy waterfront property are often taken by surprise when it comes to insurance – by both the added complexity and the higher premiums.
You may have to buy more than one policy to cover such things as the house itself and flood and wind, depending on the area and exact location. In addition, waterfront homes have more expensive insurance policies than non-waterfront properties because they’re at higher risk for flooding and wind damage.
Flood insurance is costly, to begin with, and depending on what type of flood zone your property is in, it can get super expensive. Flood insurance is mandated by the federal government because flooding can occur without warning and without regard, which means it is important to factor in the cost of a flood insurance policy into the total cost of your home.
So you need to make sure you understand what insurance policies the property requires and how much they will cost. Find out the latter from an insurance broker who has written recent waterfront policies. Your local agent may also be able to provide some guidance here.
5. You Need an Agent Who Knows the Market
Perhaps the most important thing you should know about buying waterfront property is the importance of an agent who has extensive and recent experience with such properties.
For example, if you’re looking at either a lake or a beachfront property, the agent should know whether the bottom of the water and the shoreline are rocky, sandy or muddy. This involves prior knowledge or the understanding of how to research this!
Skilled agents should also be able to tell you what recreational activities are possible on the water, and possibly even connect you with your potential neighbors and other locals who can share their perspective on living in the area.
Simply put, you need an agent who understands and can help you navigate the complexities of buying waterfront property. And at NetHome Titletown Real Estate, we have the agents you need. So if you’re thinking about buying waterfront property, contact us today at (617) 657-9811.
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