Plunging real estate prices and Baby Boomers looking to downsize and simplify their lives are two trends that have led a number of prospective buyers toward purchasing a lakefront home. While the dream of living on a lake has become more tangible for many, so too are the potential for problems if you do not know what to look for and what to ask.
Before making any lakefront purchase, be sure to get answers to the following:
- Is the property serviced by an on-site septic system? If so, has the system passed state inspections? Be sure to get a copy of report.
- If the property is serviced by town sewer, is there a betterment still to be paid? Who is paying it?
- What is the yearly cost of town sewer and water?
- Does the property require flood insurance? If so, ask for a copy of the current policy and be sure to find out the cost per year.
- Are there any easements associated with the property? Are the lake rights owned or shared? Be sure to obtain a current copy of deed.
- What are the conditions of the shoreline in the summer? Depth? Weed count, type?
- Are there any known defects in or around the property? Have the current homeowners completed any upgrades? Was the work permitted? Request copies from town departments.
- Has the property been appraised recently? If so, when? Can you share how you arrived at the asking price? Ask for recent comparable sales.
- Does the lake have an active Lake Association? If so, ask for updated contact information.
- How is the lake water level controlled? Is it lowered in the winter? Is the water quality tested annually? Recent issues?
- What recreational activities are allowed / not allowed on the lake? Ask for copy of Rules & Regulations.
While knowing what to ask is important, deciphering that information and then being able to weigh that into your decision to pursue a property or not is even more critical. Not every realtor or buyer broker has experience with waterfront properties and that’s why you want to be sure you work with somebody who has, pun intended, sailed these waters before.