Are you considering purchasing a Vermont lakefront property? If so, it is essential to partner with a Realtor who is a waterfront real estate specialist and can help you navigate the many nuances of owning a property on the water. Buying lakefront real estate can be an exciting and rewarding investment, but it also requires careful consideration due to its unique characteristics. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision when buying a lakefront property:
Research the location
Investigate the lake and its surroundings. Consider factors like water quality, recreational activities available, proximity to amenities, and accessibility to the water. A lakefront property with stunning views, a primo beach, and nearby attractions will likely be more desirable to other home buyers and could have a higher resale value.
Decide how you intend to use the waterfront
When you begin your search, decide how you plan to use the lakefront. Do you have a boat and would like a dock, mooring, or boat launch? Are you an avid swimmer so water quality is important to you? Or are you just searching for the perfect water view? Deciding on your non-negotiables will help you narrow down what properties to look at.
Lake access, direct lakefront, and bisected lakefront
There are different types of lake access you can find in The Lake Champlain Islands: deeded lake access, directly adjoining, or bisected lakefront. Lake access is shared among neighbors and the properties can be more affordable. Direct lakefront is directly adjoining the property. A bisected lakefront is when a road runs through the property. In The Islands, many properties are bisected by the road and this comes with pros and cons and is something to consider while deciding what your ideal property would be.
Understand the property boundaries
Ensure you know the exact boundaries of the property, including its waterfront limits. Verify any restrictions or rules concerning the use of the lakefront, docks, boats, and other amenities.
Review the Vermont Shoreland Protection Act
In 2014, the Vermont Legislature passed the Shoreland Protection Act which regulates shoreland development. If you plan to make modifications or build on a waterfront property, investigate the permitting process and potential restrictions. This is crucial to ensure legal compliance, and development feasibility to protect your investment's value and future enjoyment. It provides peace of mind by confirming that the property meets all regulations and environmental requirements to protect lake waters.
Check flood zones and insurance
Your Realtor can help you determine if the property is in a flood-prone area. Insurance costs can be significantly higher for waterfront properties, so consider these additional expenses in your budget. If the property is in a flood zone, take this into consideration and how it might affect your investment in the long term.
Investigate for any property damage
When looking at lakefront homes, ask your Realtor if there has been any flooding, erosion, or water damage to the property. When visiting a property, look for any signs of damage. If you decide to make an offer, a professional property inspection is highly encouraged to look into these matters further.
Know the rules and regulations
Familiarize yourself with any zoning regulations, local ordinances, and/or homeowner association (HOA) rules that may affect the property. Some homes that have deeded or shared lake access, may have restrictions on noise, boat usage, or property modifications.
Budget for ongoing costs
Lakefront properties often come with higher maintenance and insurance costs. Be prepared for additional expenses related to seasonal home maintenance such as watercraft maintenance, dock upkeep, and erosion prevention.
Hire a specialized waterfront real estate agent
Working with an experienced local real estate agent who specializes in lakefront properties can be invaluable. They can guide you through the process, provide insights into the area, and help you find suitable properties based on your preferences.
Remember to take your time and carefully assess your needs and priorities when looking at a waterfront property. Purchasing lakefront real estate can be a fantastic investment, providing years of enjoyment and potential appreciation if you make well-informed decisions. Ready to start your lakefront home search? Our Realtors are waterfront specialists who have been helping people buy and sell Lake Champlain lakefront properties since 1996. The majority of our agents also are certified in Natural Shoreland Erosion Control Practices, allowing them to provide expert advice on improving your lakefront property while protecting Lake Champlain through best practices and referrals to certified professionals.
Get in touch with us today to start your lakefront home-buying journey.