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US Real Estate: 10 Tips for Buying a Home on the Waterline

10 tips for buying a home on the waterfront

Looking for a house with a view of the lake or the ocean? While buying a home on the waterfront can be a great investment, it can also be challenging. Whether it's a lake house or a beach house you want, we recommend learning the pros and cons of owning a home on the waterfront before you commit.
Here are 10 tips for buying a home on the waterfront in today's market:

1. Understand the purpose of your home on the waterfront

Before you begin the process of searching for a home, it is important that you fully understand why you want to buy a home on the waterfront in the first place. Will this be your main home? Do you host guests? Are you planning to buy it as an investment property and rent it out? Are you going to retire at home? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself. Once you have decided on the purpose of the home, it will be easier for you to identify if a potential home has the services you need. This means less time is wasted on unsuitable homes and more time to tour potential homes.

Explore the area and talk to the neighbors

Explore the area and talk to the neighbors

One of the best things you can do before buying a home on the waterfront (or any home) is to explore the area and talk to the neighbors. Make sure the neighborhood and local culture suit your needs. For example, if you are looking for peace and quiet, do not buy a house in an area with loud noise levels and a party scene. On the other hand, if you are looking for a social environment, you may want to live in a place where loud gatherings are allowed. It is also a good idea to explore the town or neighborhood to make sure the place has the services you want.

3. Read all HOA rules first

Many waterfront homes are located in HOA communities with rules regarding everything from renting your property to taking care of your yard. If the beach house or lake house is part of the HOA, make sure you feel comfortable with these rules before purchasing the property. In addition to strict rules regarding rentals and appearance in the yard, many HOAs must approve all improvements made to the home before the work can be carried out. This may include changes to the house itself or changes to the platform.

4. Check insurance rates

Insurance rates tend to be much higher for homes on the waterfront than traditional homes. Why? Proximity to water often means potential damage from natural disasters and natural disasters (think: floods, hurricanes, tropical storms, humidity, etc.). When looking for owner insurance, make sure you talk to an agent about all of your options. You may need to consider purchasing separate insurance for different parts of the home, such as a water platform. Flood insurance is usually also a separate policy. Those who live right on the water or near the water should purchase flood insurance.

5. Be prepared to act quickly

You know what they say: you snooze, you lose. This often happens when it comes to buying a home on the waterfront. After all, there are not many homes located on a lake or beach. With such a limited supply, we recommend keeping all your ducks in sequence before starting the house hunting process. That means finding a reputable broker, researching the field, making your budget and getting pre-mortgage approval.

6. Remember privacy

While beach and lake cottages come with a number of services and benefits, one thing they often lack is privacy. Unless the house is located on a private beach or secluded area, you will not have much privacy. If the area is attractive and popular with holidaymakers, you can bet there will be dozens of people sailing in the boats and socializing a short distance from your home. If you prefer more privacy, you may need to add landscaping or window treatments to make your home more private.

7. Prepare yourself for routine maintenance

It's no secret that properties on the water line require a great deal of maintenance. This wear and tear is often related to the weather (i.e., heat, humidity, storms and other natural disasters). Houses near the beach can also be adversely affected by the salty air. Lake houses with water docks will also need regular maintenance because exposure to water significantly alters things. Before buying a home, it is important to understand the full scale of these needs. You will probably want a number of home remodelers and maintenance professionals to provide home service. We recommend asking the sellers (and neighbors) for reliable recommendations.

8. Do not give up the test

While it is tempting to skip a test when trying to contact sellers, it is not always a smart move - especially when purchasing a property on the waterfront. Given how vulnerable lake homes and beach homes are to natural disasters and weather-related wear and tear, it is important to know exactly what you are buying. Otherwise, you may end up paying for expensive repair costs and necessary updates. Skipping a test can also be dangerous - especially if there are serious safety concerns at home. Mold, foundation problems and roof leaks are just a few common problems that inspectors encounter when looking at homes on the waterfront. Be sure to hire a reputable supervisor who will thoroughly inspect the property before purchasing it.

9. Make the necessary updates when purchasing a home

When buying a home on the waterfront, make the necessary updates early on to avoid facing costly repairs - or worse - costly damage later on. Unfortunately, houses on the waterline tend to get hit over the years. Even newer construction homes will need an occasional update. Keep in mind that not all hurricane-prone homes are made of hurricane-resistant materials. Many old homes with a wooden frame may not withstand the ravages of the weather. If you are buying an older home in a hurricane-prone area, you may need to replace old windows with hurricane-resistant windows made of impact-resistant glass. If you do not replace the windows, you will need to make sure that the house has the appropriate hurricane shutters. Lake houses may also need replacement of siding or platform replacement if the platform is more than 20 years old.
Make sure existing platforms have credentials and that all completed work is in code.

10. Do not ignore the worries of climate change

Undoubtedly: Climate change should be a serious consideration when purchasing a property on the waterfront. Rising sea levels and more severe weather could adversely affect homes on the waterline in the future. Those who purchase a beach house located directly on the beach may want to opt for a house on stilts (one that is elevated) over an older house on the ground level. Be sure to ask what the local municipality is doing to combat the effects of climate change in the area (e.g., improving sea walls and adding sandbags).

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