Buying a waterfront home is different than buying a regular home. In a normal house hunt, you look at the house and what it has to offer first. When looking for lakefront homes, however, you do things a little differently.
1. Lake Size: When it comes to lakes, size does matter. Buy on the biggest lake you can afford. Not only is this good for resale value later, but it is also good for your enjoyment of the lake now. Big lakes allow for more room to spread out from other boaters and more coves and inlets to explore.
2. Lake Type: Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may be buying on a private lake or a public lake. A public lake means anyone can use the boat launch whereas private lakes only allow property owners to launch. This cuts down on boat traffic, especially on busy holiday weekends. Michigan has both options, but Minnesota only has public lakes.
3. Lake Usage: Another key point you need to know about the lake you are considering purchasing on is whether the lake has usage restrictions. Most lakes are either all-sports lakes or no-wake lakes. All-sports lakes allow for the high speeds needed for water sports, like skiing and tubing. No-wake lakes restrict usage to canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards. Some no-wake lakes allow quiet fishing boats with smaller motors. Also, if you are interested in a wake boat, there is a growing interest in banning them across the United States due to the sheer amount of water that they displace, which can destroy shorelines and fishing habitats.
4. Lake Quality: There is a growing concern on inland lakes with the arrival of invasive species. Aquatic invasive species arrive in freshwater, inland lakes when they are unknowingly transported on tanker ships from overseas, when they are moved on trailered boats that travel between lakes, and when no longer wanted pets are dumped in the lake. Invasive species, like zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, destroy the ecosystem of inland lakes as they have no natural predators.
5. Lot Size: Waterfront lots are notoriously small. The more elbow room and space between your neighbors you can buy, the better. This can be hard to find, but oversize and double lots are out there.
6. Price: Price is a concern no matter where you buy a home. With a waterfront house, there are some lakes that are more expensive than others.
7. The View: You can change many things about a house after you buy it, but you can never change the view. Views are especially important when you buy a lake front home. Westerly views of the sunset across a wide expanse of the lake are much more valuable than a short view of your neighbor's house across a narrow channel.
If you haven't figured it out already, the house itself is lower on the list of priorities when you buy a waterfront home. You can change the house at a later date. You can never change the lake or the lot. So keep this in mind when looking for new homes on a lakefront.