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Sunday, December 14, 2008

12 Tips for Buying Waterfront Real Estate

You probably already know this, but buying any land can be a significant decision. But what you may not know is that there are a few twists that come with purchasing a waterfront lot that make it very different from buying a lot in any old subdivision. I've put together a few tips that you should keep in mind when you're looking for the perfect waterfront property.

1. Don't buy land without setting foot on it first. You should take the time to look it over closely and inspect it yourself. Locate a copy of the site plan so you can determine exactly where the property lines are.
2. Study the history of the land development for the area. Was the development a friendly undertaking or was there a lot of controversy from the community? What was on this land before?
3. Talk to the neighbors. Ask them what they think of the developer and the area. Are they happy with how their house was built? Were the amenities completed by the developer as promised? If they love living there, they'll tell you - if they hate it, they'll tell you that too.
4. If you're looking at lakefront property, you need to determine if the lake is constant level or not. If it's not a constant level lake, then the water levels could change drastically.
5. Check to see if there are any flood plain restrictions. If you build or buy in a flood zone you may have a tough time getting insurance.
6. Make sure the lot you're looking at will support a house of the size you want.
7. Don't limit your search to a single waterfront development - no matter how "in love" you are with it. If you're not familiar with other developments, ask a local realtor for help.
8. Find our how the property will change in the different seasons or when the weather conditions change. When was the last drought and what happened to the water levels then?
9. If you're interested in building a boat house, make sure that there aren't Restrictive Covenants preventing you from doing so. Many lake areas limit the building of new boat houses and docks.
10. If you're planning on building, make sure that you will have access to electricity, water, sewage and other utilities. Never assume that you can just "hook up".
11. If the property is remote, make sure you know who is responsible for maintaining the road. Many banks require a Road Maintenance Agreement before they will lend on remote property.
12. Lastly, before you make the purchase offer, consider making it conditional on an inspection of the land or on another specific item. For example, if you don't have access to sewage lines, make the offer conditional on your ability to obtain permits for a septic system. Plus, you should always make your offer contingent on your ability to obtain financing.

OK, armed with these tips, you should be ready to start your search for the perfect waterfront lot. Remember, investing in waterfront real estate requires common sense and due diligence, just like any other investment. Go put these tips to work for you!

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