The Realty Geek's Blog

Waterfront Property: It’s not all Sunshine and Roses

Waterfront property can be a profitable investment and provides a wonderful living experience, but it’s important to remember that ocean view and lakefront properties come with challenges that don’t apply to other homes.

Ocean Views = Coastal Weather

Waterfront property can be beautiful, but, depending on the region, it can also be subjected to damaging storms and wild weather. Beachfront homes tend to take a pounding during hurricanes and insurance rates are high as a result. In some parts of the country, where hurricanes are prevalent, it may be impossible to obtain hurricane coverage on a beachfront home.

The same consideration applies, to some degree, to lakefront property. A small lake isn’t likely to kick up much of a storm, but storms and waves on the Great Lakes can be as ferocious as any ocean storm.

Flooding is also a possibility with lakefront property. Find out how stable the lake level is before you buy. If the lake has a history with rising water levels, you'll need to be sure your home is above the highest historical watermark.

Plumbing, Power and Water Supply

Lakefront property can’t always be hooked up to local plumbing, power and water supplies, meaning that alternative sources must be found. A lakefront property may rely on well water, and septic systems must be carefully maintained to prevent contamination of the lake.

You May Want to Reconsider Making Improvements

Although hauling in some sand or building a dock may constitute an improvement for your life along the lakefront, it can also cause a decline in water quality. The lower the quality of water, the harder it will be for you to sell your home in the future. Living along a lake typically makes you a steward of the lake, behooving you to sustain the lake’s current water quality if it’s good, and improving it if it’s not. Ensure before purchasing lakefront property that you enjoy its natural state. If you start thinking of ways to improve it, this is probably not the property for you.

Private Beaches and Public Concerns

Access to beaches and waterways can cause disputes between private landowners and the public. Beachgoers may trespass to reach the water. Landowners may mistakenly believe their property line extends to the water, which can lead to arguments and bad feelings in the community. Understand your legal rights, and the legal rights of others, before buying beachfront property.

Many waterfront properties are advertised as having private beaches. Depending on your state, this may or may not be true. In Hawaii, for instance, almost all beaches are public. Beachgoers cannot trespass over private land to reach the beach, but if they can reach the beach legally (via public trails or watercraft), they have a right to be there.

Despite the complications that often accompany ocean and lakefront property, a house next to the water can be a wonderful experience for the right owner, and is often a wise home investment.

Comment balloon 7 commentsEric Proulx • June 04 2012 01:07PM

Comments

I agree with you that Waterfront or Ocean Front is not all sunshine and roses but it is a wonderful place to spend time when you can. I enjoy the sun and the rain at the Beach. Hopefully the good outweighs the bad.

Betty

Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) over 6 years ago

Oh yea, I'm with you Betty. Spending sometime next to the water is wonderful, just need to be careful, don't want to get caught up in one of those coastal storms. Thanks for stopping by for the read!

Posted by Eric Proulx (RealEstate.com) over 6 years ago

Oh I understand the coastal weather thing! I have a condo on the beach in the gulf coast of Florida and whenever the hurricane season hits it is scary. Then there is the whole oil spill thing, ha. The BP Oil Spill wasn't a fun thing to go through. 

Posted by Shar Sitter, Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M (Rooms With Style) over 6 years ago

Wow, right there on the coast that must be beautiful but I believe it, you can go right from paradise to peril hurricane season. Yea, the BP spill talk about tragic, I'm sure there are still some lingering effects you folks have to deal with. Up here on the Washington coast we've been fortunate (knock on wood).

Posted by Eric Proulx (RealEstate.com) over 6 years ago

This is a great post for all of your clients that do not normally live around the waterfront and need to know what to expect!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 6 years ago

Hi Eric,

We plan to move to the beach soon but we do not want to live right on the shore as there is a lot of storms, flooding, erosion and many problems so we plan to live a couple of blocks away instead. Thanks so much for an interesting post.

Posted by Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor, (909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning (Sun Lakes Realt) over 6 years ago

Barbara-Jo - Thank you! Just hoping to keep the people informed.

Kristin - And thank you for the read. As great as the view may-be you got to make sure you're protecting your property! Have a great move and if you ever need a home-sitter, I think I could get used to living near the beach for a week! hah

Posted by Eric Proulx (RealEstate.com) over 6 years ago

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