Lakefront Property: Important Things to Consider When Buying a Lake Home

Posted by Jolenta Averill on Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 12:53am.

Lake Mendota pierLiving by the lake is one of those things that a lot of Americans dream about. Who wouldn’t want such a tranquil life? A clear view of the placid lake greeting you from your breakfast table every morning. Spending the entire day fishing or reading by the lake shore—yes, lake living seems like a paradise. Unfortunately, high property prices often put this dream out of reach for many ordinary citizens. That is, until now.

Given current trends, buying real estate has never been more affordable, and new homes on the lake are no exception. Lake home buying, however, does have its share of special considerations, and it’s important to go through them in order to make the best choice in buying your own property. 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 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 whom you would expect to visit as well. Ideally, the property should be big enough to provide comfort to your guests, and also have 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. Never rely just on photographs when making your purchase decision. You can hire a Realtor with expertise on lakefront properties who can guide you to properties appropriate for your needs and price range, and who can be your “feet on the ground.” When viewing properties, be sure to check out the house, the grounds, and the lake to make sure everything meets your expectations.

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?

It is also vital to ask if the area gets flooded and, if so, how high the waters rise. You may regret buying the property if you find your house submerged in floodwaters the first year you are staying there—check with your real estate agent for hazard disclosures and flood histories on any 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. Do 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.  

Hi, and welcome to our Madison real estate blog. Whether you're a consumer, journalist or Realtor, we encourage you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment. Here you'll find relevant local and national real estate information, as well as market statistics, insight, and information about a variety of neighborhoods and real estate listings. If you'd like more information about anything in particular, please use the contact form and I'll be happy to help.

Jolenta Averill, Principal
Lake & City Homes Realty
(563) BUY-SOLD

9 Responses to "Lakefront Property: Important Things to Consider When Buying a Lake Home"

Calgary Realtor Crystal Tost wrote: Jolenta you make some great point here when looking for a lake home in your market. It is so important for buyers to employ a experienced Realtor like yourself when buying a lake home to protect their interests.

Posted on Saturday, September 10th, 2011 at 8:11pm.

Lake Travis Waterfront wrote: I sell on Lake Travis, west of Austin, and one thing I want people to do is visit a property they like on a busy weekend. The need to check things like the noise level and whether or not the dock will be affected by wakes from large boats.

Posted on Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 at 12:09pm.

Cal Carter wrote: What a beautiful sunset! Lake front living is the life!

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 3:36pm.

Alex Aguilar wrote: I think the perfect lakehouse setting is one where you can live in peace and quiet away from the noise and pollution of the big cities, and at the same time have easy access to all the amenities of modern living.

Posted on Sunday, October 9th, 2011 at 5:06pm.

Divorce Lawyer wrote: You make some excellent points. Too many people look on the outside and because it looks good from a distance, they don't take the time to venture beyond that.

Posted on Sunday, October 16th, 2011 at 11:47pm.

Orlando | Vizcaya homes for sale wrote: In Orlando, we have nice areas with lakefront homes close to the city but far enough from the craziness..

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011 at 12:17pm.

Seattle Homes wrote: I could sit on the dock and watch that sun every day for the rest of my life it is so peaceful

Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 9:47am.

Eric wrote: Hi Jolenta, I would like to add that I think with any Lakeview properties an important thing to consider is the location of the sunset.

Either way, great site, and visit and comment on my Mississauga condo Blog when you get a chance -


Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 5:52pm.

Knoxville Luxury Waterfront Homes wrote: Great article. Lakefront homes are in high demand and home buyers should always consider needs and location before wants.

Posted on Thursday, March 28th, 2013 at 12:07pm.

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