Waterfront homes have a lot of appeal. Many people want to relax on the shores of a lake, ocean, or small pond with easy access to activities like fishing and swimming. It is important, though, to be cautious. Not every waterfront home is a good buy. Some are over-priced, and others have hidden damage that might cost a fortune to fix in the future. You can protect yourself from buying an "oops" waterfront home by doing these things before you purchase one:
1. Get an independent appraisal.
It can be really hard to put an accurate price on a waterfront home. The home might be larger than ones nearby, which would mean it's worth more — but how much more? The home might be closer to the water than others; how does that affect its value? To get a better idea of whether the home is over-priced or priced fairly, it is a good idea to have an independent appraiser come look at it. If you decide you like the home, then you can make a fair offer based on the results of the appraisal.
2. Make sure your inspector knows waterfront homes.
Waterfront homes are prone to an array of issues that other homes do not experience. They can get water blown under the siding when there's a swell and the tide is high. Their foundations can start to shift if the shore starts to erode. The inspector you hire to look over the home needs to be aware of these issues. So you should only hire someone who has plenty of experience inspecting waterfront homes. If you're struggling to find someone, reach out to homeowners on the same waterfront and ask who they hired.
3. Figure out where the property lines actually are.
Many people buy waterfront property assuming they own all of the way to the water. Sometimes this is the case, but not always. There are different rules in different municipalities. You might own up to the start of the beach, or you might own the first 10 feet of beach area. It is important to look at the actual property survey and deed to be sure you know what you're making an offer on.
If you do the three things above before buying a waterfront home for sale, you should be in good shape going forward! Remember to rely on your real estate agent throughout this process, too.