Top 10 Tips For Buying A Waterfront Home

Buying a waterfront home is much different than buying a home located on a tree lined neighborhood street.  Buying a waterfront home is not only about buying a piece of real estate, but it’s also about “buying” into a certain lifestyle.

If you’re thinking about buying a waterfront home, first and foremost, congratulations seeing as a very high percentage of people never have the opportunity or chance to buy a waterfront home.

Over the years working as a specialist in waterfront real estate, buyers often ask me how the process works for buying a waterfront home.  It’s important that if you’re thinking about buying a waterfront property that you truly understand the differences, considerations you should make, and tips you should follow. Below are tips to follow when buying a waterfront property.

Figure Out Financing Early On When Buying A Waterfront Home

Whether a buyer is purchasing their first home, their fifth home, buying a vacation home, or buying a waterfront home, one of the most important tips is to make sure you figure out financing early on. Waterfront home buyers need to understand the importance of figuring out financing before shopping for a waterfront property.

Some waterfront home buyers will elect to purchase their home with cash, which makes figuring out financing pretty easy. There still will be a large number of waterfront home buyers who will need to obtain a mortgage to finance the purchase of their waterfront home.

When buying a waterfront home, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is critical. There are some pretty significant differences between a mortgage pre-approval and pre-qualification. When buying a waterfront home, having a pre-approval is critical since many sellers will be advised by their Realtor® to only accept offers from pre-approved buyers.

Another very important reason to figure out financing early on when buying a waterfront home is because the number of waterfront properties for sale is traditionally less than the number of non-waterfront homes, which often leads to lots of competition. Since competition can be fierce when buying a waterfront home, not having your financing in order is a surefire way to lose out on a home in a multiple offer situation.

Hire An Experienced Real Estate Agent

Similar to figuring out financing early on, hiring an experienced real estate agent is extremely important when buying a home in general. Another important tip for buying a waterfront home is to ensure you hire an experienced real estate agent that specializes in waterfront property.

One of the best ways to increase the chances that you hire a Top Realtor when buying a waterfront home is to know what questions to ask during interviews with real estate agents. Properly interviewing prospective real estate agents is a great way to find out whether or not an agent is going to be a good fit for you or not.

Below are some of the most important questions to ask prospective real estate agents when buying a waterfront home;

Since buying a waterfront home is different than buying a non-waterfront home, it’s important you hire an experienced real estate agent. Working as a Horseshoe Bay Waterfront Realtor®, the importance to make sure that waterfront home buyers are thinking about the proper things is extremely critical and an inexperienced real estate agent may not point out the considerations a buyer should be taking into account.

Ask Yourself Why You’re Buying A Waterfront Home

One of the best tips for waterfront home buyers is to make sure that you ask yourself why you’re actually thinking about buying a waterfront property. Since there are many reasons why buyers decide to purchase waterfront property, it’s important to decide whether it makes sense or not.

One of the first questions that you should ask yourself when considering the purchase of a waterfront home is whether or not you will take advantage of the water. If you don’t see any value in having a home located on the water, it really doesn’t make any sense to pay the premium price of a waterfront home.

Another important question you should ask yourself before buying a waterfront property is whether or not you truly desire the waterfront lifestyle. Do you see yourself inviting friends and family over to enjoy the spectacular views of your home and to take advantage of the water? If the answer is NO, paying the premium price for a waterfront home may not make the most sense.

Keep In Mind You Will Be Buying More Than The Property

It’s important to remember when buying a waterfront home, you’re buying more than just the actual home. In addition to buying the actual home, you need to remember when buying waterfront property that you’re paying for spectacular views, ease of access to the water, amount of frontage along the water, privacy, and a variety of other things.

It’s difficult to place a dollar amount on a breathtaking view of the water or the ease of access to the water, however, always keep in mind you’re paying for these additional items when buying a waterfront home.

Research The Body Of Water

It’s a smart idea when buying a waterfront home that you do some in-depth research about the body of water. There are certain things you should know about a body of water when buying a waterfront property.

1. If you’re buying a waterfront property with the intentions of using having a boat, it’s important to find out about the water depths. Depths for boating can vary significantly depending on the type of boat. For example the required depth for a sail boat is different than the required depth for a pontoon boat.

2. If you’re purchasing a waterfront home with the intentions of using the water to swim, another important piece of information to learn about is the quality of the water.

3. When purchasing a waterfront home it is important to find out if the property has any “Fill Area” and who owns it.

Find Out If There Are Any Association Fees Or Rules

Many waterfront homes are a part of associations, or communities which can potentially come with additional fees. It’s possible that some bodies of water are even subject to association fees, which is a fee that is passed onto the residents.

It’s possible that waterfront properties that are a part of an association will also have rules and regulations. These rules and regulations are similar to the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that you commonly see with homeowner associations when buying a condo.

These CC&Rs can restrict what a homeowner can do with their property. Waterfront home buyers need to understand if there are any rules and regulations in place for their property. The last thing a buyer wants to have happen is they attempt to install a new dock on their property for a bigger boat and there are regulations that limit the size of a dock.

The best way to find out whether there are association fees or rules and regulations on a specific property is to ask your real estate agent.

Learn About Flood Insurance Requirements When Buying A Waterfront Home

Depending on where a waterfront home is located and the type of financing, it maybe required for a buyer to obtain a flood insurance policy on their property.  When buying a waterfront home, you need to understand what flood insurance is.

Flood insurance covers repairs of damages caused by flooding.  It’s important to realize that certain waterfront properties are at a higher risk for potential floods than others.  A flood insurance policy for a waterfront property that has a high risk for potential flooding will be considerably higher than a property that has a lower risk for potential flooding.

Flood insurance can be very expensive in some instances, therefore, when buying a waterfront home you need to understand flood insurance and the costs that come with it.  Our best resources for flood information is FEMA which is the official site of the the Federal Government. On FEMA’S website you can find flood maps which will help you to determine if the property is in the floodplain. It is always best to have a survey company check the elevation (Elevation Certificate) of the property to give an exact determination if the property is in the flood plain.

Understand The Maintenance Responsibilities When Buying A Waterfront Home

Home ownership comes with maintenance, regardless if it’s owning a waterfront home or not. Waterfront home buyers need to understand that there are different maintenance responsibilities when owning a waterfront home that needs to be completed.

The most obvious home maintenance that comes with owning a waterfront home is the importance of maintaining the frontage of the property. If a waterfront property is located on a body of water that tends to have rough waters, it’s possible a homes Bulkhead / Seawall or dock can be destroyed.

Recently while selling a waterfront home the owner had to make repairs to their bulk head due to the rough waters. In many cases, waterfront properties are more prone to potential damage caused by weather than properties that are not located on water.

Don’t Skip The Inspections When Buying A Waterfront Home

There are way more reasons why having a home inspection is smart when buying a waterfront home than there are to skip the inspection.  An obvious tip, but one that cannot be overlooked, for buying a waterfront home is to NOT skip the inspections.  There are very few circumstances that would warrant a buyer skipping a home inspection on a home.

First and foremost, since water can create huge problems for a home and since a waterfront home is located near or on water, it’s important an inspector makes sure there are not any water intrusion issues with the property.  While it’s possible there maybe no water issues in a home, the minimal expense of a home inspection is well worth the peace of mind it provides a buyer.

Another popular inspection to consider when buying a waterfront home is a septic inspection, if the property is not hooked up to public sewers, which many waterfront homes are not.  A fault septic system can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars to repair or replace, so if a waterfront home has a septic system, have it inspected!

Talk With The Locals

Waterfront communities and the residents are often very close with one another.  A great tip to follow when buying a waterfront home is to consider talking with the locals.

A waterfront home buyer can find out pretty quickly about the area by having a quick conversation with a neighbor or two.  The residents in a waterfront community can share some insight into potential problems in the area and also into the positives of living in the area.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, buying a waterfront home is much different than buying a three bedroom ranch on a neighborhood street.  There are several considerations that waterfront home buyers need to take into account before buying a waterfront home.

By following the above 10 tips for buying a waterfront home, you give yourself a huge advantage over buyers who do not know.