Buying a lake house presents some unique challenges and items to consider, especially since you're obtaining land and water simultaneously. While an experienced real estate agent who specializes in waterfront homes will know how to help you achieve your dream of homeownership on the water, you'll want to keep these are seven tips in mind:
Consider usage and value
Are you planning on living in your lake house year-round, or is this a vacation home? Many people choose a lakefront home as a second home, considering it both an investment and a getaway. Whether you live in the home full-time or part-time, be sure it's in a desirable area, that the house is well-built, and that it's situated on stable land. Then, in the long run, you'll be happier (especially if you end up living in it full-time), and the chances of its value increasing are higher.
Check for utilities
If you plan on building a lake house on an unimproved lot, you'll want to check on your property's access to utilities, such as electricity, water, sewage, and trash pickup services. If a sewer line isn't available, you'll need to do a perk test for septic. If city water isn't available, you'll need to drill a well. These things add up quickly, so be sure to ask your agent for their advice.
Most people love having a lake home because it's a cinch to go boating. If that's you, ask your agent what marinas and services are nearby. How far will you have to go to get fuel? Is there a place to store your boat? Will you be able to bring in or launch your boat easily from your house? What, if any, are the restrictions on boat activity?
Know the rules
Ask your real estate agent about any legal, conservation, and zoning restrictions – especially the homeowner's association rules and any Corps of Engineers rules. That way, if you've got any plans or ideas for your property, you can see if they'll fit within the regulations first before you make any significant investment.
Understand the hidden costs
Ask about the tax rates for your lake home, as lake properties often have higher property taxes. If your lake home will be a second home rather than a primary residence, tax season could be a bit more complex. Also, homeowner's insurance is often higher for lake homes. It's typically due to their increased exposure to the elements or possible floods. Additional coverage may be needed for your watercraft and structures on the property, such as a dock, since your homeowner's insurance policy may not cover them automatically. Your insurance and real estate agents can advise you on these factors.
Look beyond the house
Sure, the house may be fantastic but take the time to walk the property. Is it too steep to get to and from the lake? What's the water depth? Is it deep enough to have a boat or go for a swim? If not there already, can you put in a dock? How close are the surrounding homes and their property lines? Will you have enough privacy? Also, check your views to see how they might change over time.
Use a real estate agent that specializes in lakefront
Most importantly, you'll want to use an agent who understands every nuance of the lake market. Besides having access to great listings, make sure your realtor has knowledge of the lake's layout and various neighborhoods in the area. Your lakefront sales specialist should be able to answer any questions you have and guide you to the best home and lake experience you envision.
Speaking of a lakefront sales specialist, our very own Kathy Phillips bought a lake home here in Harbor Club. She sold her home in Atlanta and invested in a gorgeous lakefront villa. She states that "As Director of Sales at Harbor Club, I felt it was necessary to demonstrate a financial investment in a property that I so highly praise…in other words… 'to put my money where my mouth is.'" Kathy is undoubtedly an authority you can trust when buying a lake home, a golf home, or other real estate in the Lake Oconee area, especially at Harbor Club. Don't wait – learn more about your real estate options and get in touch today. Kathy and her team look forward to helping you.