Buying a lakefront home — whether for year-round living or as a weekend getaway — is a dream for many people. Before you take the plunge on purchasing a lakefront property, however, there are a few questions you should ask yourself and your real estate agent.
1. What are the regulations regarding the shoreline?
In most states, the Department of Natural Resources has guidelines regarding what you can and cannot do along the shoreline. This is designed to protect both the natural beauty of the area and the habitats of the native birds, fish, plants, and other wildlife. If you find the perfect house at a great price with the intention of cutting down all those pesky weeds at the water's edge, you need to make sure that you are allowed to do so.
2. Is it compliant?
Many lakefront property listings have been around for decades. Unfortunately, the rules regarding setbacks, well locations, and type of allowable septic systems have changed greatly since those early years. While the current owner is grandfathered in and generally will not be required to make changes, it is very likely that you will need to bring the building up to code once you purchase it. If this includes digging a new well or connecting to the municipal septic system, the cost may be prohibitive.
3. Will your friends and family visit?
While your initial thoughts regarding a lakefront property may be how relaxing it will be for you, realize that family and friends will soon be hinting around for an invite. You may end up needing more space than you originally planned for.
4. How far are you willing to drive?
If your lakefront property will be used for long weekends and summer vacations, consider how long it will take you to drive there and decide on a max distance before you start looking at lakefront properties for sale. Buying a remote lakefront cabin isn't worth the money if you dread the drive every Friday night.
Likewise, consider the direction of the drive. If you live in an area where everyone drives up north on summer weekends, think about exploring lakes to the south to avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic that can ruin the start of a fun vacation.
5. Is there a problem with an invasive species?
Many lakes suffer from invasive species. These are plants and organisms that are not native to the area and have no natural predators. Zebra mussels, for example, are a constant problem in Minnesota. They arrive on overseas tankers that travel up the St. Lawrence River and through the Great Lakes. These aquatic invasive species then latch onto the boats of recreational fishermen in Lake Superior and are unknowingly transferred to whatever inland lake that fisherman heads to next.
Work with a real estate agency like The Stockton Team: Keller Williams Showcase to ask all the necessary questions so that you have a full understanding of the laws before purchasing a lakefront property for sale.