Buying a waterfront home is a bucket list item for many people. While buyers may be thinking about the house, there are several key things you need to know about the lake first.
Lake Feet vs. Square Feet
Having enough bedrooms for all your friends and family to come and visit is important. The size of the lake is more important than the size of the house, however. Buy on the largest lake that you can afford. You can always add square footage to the house, but the lake can't get any bigger.
All-Sports vs. No-Wake
If you want to go fast — such as skiing, tubing, or jet skiing — you need to make sure you purchase on an all-sports lake that has no restrictions on speed, type of watercraft, or type of activity. If, however, you prefer a quiet life, choose a no-wake lake. This type of lake only allows quiet activities, like fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. They typically have a limit on how much horsepower your boat motor can have.
Public vs. Private
Depending on where you live, you may have the choice between a private or a public lake. Public lakes are open to the public and have boat launches that anyone can use. A private lake is reserved for the people who own homes in the general area. Private lakes may charge an annual or monthly fee to help maintain the lake, while public lakes can get overly crowded, especially on holiday weekends. Michigan has both types of lakes, for example, while in Minnesota all lakes are public.
Firm vs. Mucky
If you have small children and want to play at the water's edge, look for a lakefront lot that has a firm shoreline. If you just intend to launch your boat for fishing, you may not mind a shoreline that is mucky or has an excess of aquatic plants. Never buy a home with the intent of removing aquatic plants. Most are protected by the state's Department of Natural Resources. Some plants are even protected by federal laws.
Level vs. Slope
If you can afford it, always buy a house on a level lake lot or a gentle slope to the water. There are many lakes that have steep slopes that make the trip to the water arduous. In general terms, the steeper the slope, the less expensive the lake lot.
Knowing where you are willing to compromise and where you are not willing to compromise is important. It can help you make the right decision when you are looking at waterfront homes for sale.