Fort Myers - Cape Coral News Article

Considerations For Purchasing Waterfront Property

Posted: 4/20/2010

Jay Embry

The decision to purchase property can be daunting. Purchasing on the water can mean the stakes are even higher. If you have ever dreamed of buying a piece of shoreline for your dream home there are many things that you should consider. Here we present some of the issues that you need to take into account before you sign the contract for the perfect place to build.

  1. Know the lake in its various seasons. The lot that appears great at the end of spring may not have water throughout most of the winter. How do droughts affect the property? Is any of the property in a flood plain?  Are there seasonal draw downs on the water
  2. Does the lot suit your needs? Is the water of a type that you will benefit from? Don’t take a sales persons word on the depth or quality of water. The ideal lake for you might not be perfect for the next guy.
  3. Utilities can be costly. Unlike a suburban subdivision, water, sewage, power and other utilities may not be easy to access. If there is no sewage you have to have enough room for septic. Be sure to you are able to acquire the proper right to do what you need with the property before you finalize your contract. Assumptions in this area can be devastating.  I know of a house that was built within sight of high tension power lines. Now over a year later they still have yet to get power to their lot.
  4. Spend time in the area. Walk your prospective lot at different times of the day. Check it out by water. Find the exact location of the property lines. Never purchase something sight unseen. The old jokes about waterfront property in the desert aren’t so funny to some.
  5. Talk to people. Locals in the neighborhood love to tell tales of their mistakes. Is the developer reliable? Were promises kept? Do they enjoy their purchase?
  6. Check comparable sites. Comparables are used by real estate agents and appraisers alike. They will help you to make an educated guess about the real value of your land. Be sure to check other developments. Try to determine why some property is more expensive than others.
  7. Can you acquire the appropriate insurance for your proposed dwelling? Insurance is a tricky aspect for a lake house, consult a professional.
  8. Can you build the pier and /or boat house that you want? After making the first payment is the wrong time to find out that the boat house with a lift that you want isn’t allowed. Consult the proper authorities in this area. Rules and regulations vary greatly.
  9. Roads and access to the lot can often be a concern. Keep in mind that the more remote a location the more expensive it will be to build on. Are access roads maintained by a government authority, homeowners association, or will they be your responsibility?
  10. Are there easements attached to the property? How about covenants or other restrictions?
  11. Can you obtain financing? This is not necessarily based just on your credit. Lenders look at a large number of things before making a decision. Location, property values, insurability, and many other factors will play into their decision.
  12. Take advantage of the advice of experts. Insurers, mortgage companies, builders, developers, and real estate agents all offer a wealth of experience. You would be surprised how much you could learn from a short talk with any of them.

While there is much to take into account with a purchase such as this, the rewards can be great. Hopefully these hints get you started on your way to finding the lot that is perfect for you.  

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