Tips for Buying a Waterfront Property

If you’re looking to buy your own little slice of heaven on earth, a waterfront property could do the trick. However, before you put in an offer on a property, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

5 Considerations for Purchasing Waterfront Property

Whether it’s a small cabin on a private lake or a luxury waterfront residence in Palm Beach, waterfront property is highly appealing to many buyers. But before you make the investment, make sure you plan ahead. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Make sure you work with a real estate agent who is a waterfront specialist. There are nuances that come with buying a home on the water. An experienced local agent can help you find opportunities (and avoid costly mistakes).

2. Prioritize Location Over Structure

While you obviously want to like the house/condo, don’t get so caught up in the physical structure that you forget to take other factors into account. Because when you get down to the heart of the matter, the location is far more important than the structure. You can always rebuild or remodel a house. You can’t do the same with the location.

It’s easy to fall in love with a house, but consider how you want to use the property. Consider questions like:

  • Is the water clear/clean enough to actually enjoy?
  • Do we have good views from the property?
  • Is it easy to access the property, or will traffic be a nightmare?
  • How private is the property?

Take the complete picture into account when searching for waterfront property. A failure to do so could leave you with a nice house in a terrible location.

3. Perform a Careful Inspection

Home inspections are important with any home purchase. But as with most things, they’re even more important when it comes to waterfront properties. It doesn’t matter how hot the market is or what sort of competition there is for a property – do not (under any circumstances) skip the home inspection. 

A home that’s located on or near a body of water is always susceptible to water intrusion issues. And as you likely know, this exposes the property to a host of other possible problems, such as foundation issues, rot, mold, mildew, rust, and corrosion. 

Hopefully, there are no issues. But it’s worth the minimal expense of having a licensed home inspector look over the property. At the very least, it gives you peace of mind. However, it’s also possible that a couple of issues will be identified. This gives you leverage in your negotiations.

It’s also worth noting that you should have the home’s septic system carefully inspected (if the property has one). This may be an additional expense, but it’s worth it. Faulty septic systems can cost thousands to repair or replace.

4. Research Insurance Requirements

While you won’t get a full breakdown of costs until after you’ve put in an offer on a home and it’s under contract, you can get a pretty good feel for what additional costs will be involved by doing further due diligence.

Pay especially close attention to flood insurance requirements. Depending on the location, you may be required to purchase a flood insurance policy. And the rate for the policy will vary dramatically based on the risk for potential flooding. If you’re in a high-risk zone, it could be very expensive. For more information, visit

5. Consider Maintenance Costs

Waterfront properties typically have higher holding costs over time – particularly if the property is located near saltwater. Make sure you’re taking this into account when purchasing. Do some research and consider what sort of costs you’re looking at over the next five years for roof maintenance, deck maintenance, dock maintenance, and siding maintenance. (You might need to talk to locals in the neighborhood to get a good feel for the economics of owning a house in the area.)

Finding the Perfect Property

Your definition of the “perfect” waterfront property will differ from the next person’s. It’s important that you figure out what you want in a property to make an informed decision. It might take some time to find the property you’re looking for, but your discipline and patience will eventually pay off!