Living by the lake is dream for many Wisconsinites and for good reason – it’s relaxing. That’s not just an opinion, either; it’s a fact: “Studies indicate that being in a coastal or marine setting causes a six point increase on the 100-point happiness scale compared to urban settings. This is a greater happiness boost than reported at other nature settings such as farms, mountains, or woods,” says Zachary Slobig, writing in Psychology Today.
Think a lakefront home is out of your budget? You might be surprised how affordable, with low mortgage rates to help, your dream of a stress-free life may be.
Lake home buying, however, does have its share of special considerations, and it’s important to consider these to make the best choice when you purchase. Here are just a few things to consider before making a purchase.
Consider the location of the lakefront property. What’s your purpose for buying the property?
If it is intended to be your primary home, look at its distance from work, schools, medical clinics, and standard amenities like grocery stores and post offices. Even with rural living, you still want to have reasonable access to these services, lest the tasks of everyday life make your remote location more of a chore than a pleasure.
Proximity is also important even if the property is intended to be your vacation home. Most experts recommend that a vacation home should be one to two hours away from your primary home, so that your use of the vacation home isn’t discourage by an onerous drive.
How big is the property? What are the things you can do there?
A good lake home should have space enough to accommodate not only your family, but also the friends and relatives that will no doubt visit. Ideally, the property should be big enough to provide comfort to your guests, and also offer enough activities to occupy them.
Aside from water sports on the lake such as fishing, swimming, or jet-skiing, find out if there are alternative activities in the area such as hiking and biking, bird-watching, or horseback riding. If the home you’re considering is located in a development, ask about amenities like swimming pools, a clubhouse, or a gym.
Conduct a thorough inspection of the property, especially if it wasn't pre-inspected.
One of the most critical aspects of shopping for and purchasing lake-front property is choosing the right Realtor to assist you. Since this purchase is vastly different from buying any other type of home, there is no substitute for experience. Ensure the agent you hire has lots of experience in the lakefront property market.
When you get to the property, find out all you can about the lake and the lakeshore. What is the lake like? Is it big enough for all of the water sports you are partial to? How about the shoreline? Is it sandy or mucky? Can you imagine yourself and your family spending time there? Find out what the lake bottom is like—is the slope gradual or a steep drop-off? Does it have a rocky bottom or a sandy bottom? Does the dock or boathouse require inspections?
Check with your real estate agent for hazard disclosures and flood histories on any waterfront property in which you are interested.
In short, lakeside living can be a dream come true, but a real estate purchase is no time to start daydreaming. Perform your due-diligence, cover all of the bases, and find out all you can about the property before purchasing it. That way your lakeside life can truly be one of serenity and happiness.
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Jolenta Averill, Principal
Lake & City Homes Realty