What You Should Know About Buying a Lake House

(Making sure you're fully prepared)

Father and son fishing on a dock

Buying a lake home can be an exciting process. Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway, a retirement home, or a primary residence, lakefront properties offer many attractive features. Homes near and on lakes also have their own set of hassles and aspects to carefully consider, however. Before you sign that purchase agreement, be sure you have all the facts. And make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

Choose the Right Agent

As a real estate agent in Minnesota, Daryl Bronniche is what you may consider an expert on waterfront properties.

"You can't throw a rock around here without hitting a lake," he joked. "And lake homes are a different beast."

You want to be sure the real estate agent you're working with has experience with waterfront properties. Those like Bronniche can explain the various aspects of owning a lake home better than someone who is used to facilitating the purchase of landlocked homes.

Consider More than the Home Itself

Bronniche said there's nothing like the buyer's remorse of someone who falls in love with the lake home itself, only to discover the water is murky and filled with invasive species, the fishing is garbage and the only people who seem to be on the lake are running their power boats day and night.

If your dreams of owning a lake home include fishing, swimming and peaceful relaxation next to the water, be sure to check out the water quality. Ask a few neighbors what the water traffic is like. How easy is it to access? What are the common activities that take place?

Can You Live with an Association?

Many waterfront property owners are obligated to join the lake association that governs the water and beaches. This is a serious consideration. If the lake home you are considering purchasing is subject to an association, you must consider the consequences. Those can include paying association fees, maintaining the shoreline to the organization's specifications, and living by any association rules such as when and how you can use the water.

"Lake associations are common and any potential buyer should ask to see their by-laws and regulations before making an agreement," Bronniche said.

Some lake associations even dictate what you can and cannot do with your property. Be sure these are rules you can live by before you purchase the home.

Think About the Extra Expenses

Not only are lake homes significantly more valuable than other properties, but they also often include other expenses. Septic systems for lakefront properties constantly cause issues for the owners. Most systems must be routinely checked to ensure the lake isn't being polluted. Replacing an aging septic system near a lake can be an expensive process.

Property taxes for lake homes, especially those that are non-primary residences, are often substantially higher than those for landlocked homes. Be sure to calculate the additional expense of taxes into your home buying budget.

Also, homeowners insurance on lakefront properties is much higher than on homes distant from the water. This reflects the increased risk of property damage the home may experience due to its location. It's a good idea to speak with an experienced insurance agent who can help you find multiple quotes from a variety of companies. Independent insurance agents in our network can help you find home insurance on your lake property that fits your needs and budget.

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