Buying a home overlooking a lake is a life-long dream for many people. The idea of being able to walk out the back door and enjoy all that lake living has to offer -- boating, swimming, late-night campfires -- is exciting. Before you jump in the water with both feet, however, there are a few questions you should ask your real estate agent.
Is the lake an all-sports lake?
Some lakes have restrictions in place that limit usage. A no-wake lake limits the horsepower allowed on a lake. This means that only boats without motors -- canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and the like -- are allowed as well as small fishing boats with 25 horsepower or less motors. The goal is to have a quiet lake for recreational paddlers and fishermen only.
If your goal is to play hard, drive fast, and waterski or tube, you need an all-sports lake. All-sports lakes generally do not have usage or horsepower limitations. It is important to note here that many lakes, even all-sports lakes, are instituting rules against the use of wake surfing boats. The speed needed to allow a person to surf behind a boat is too disruptive to both shoreline integrity and fishing habitats on smaller, inland lakes.
Is the shoreline firm?
Whether a shoreline is firm or mucky is almost more important than the house. You can remodel a house, but you cannot change the shoreline. In fact, your state's Department of Natural Resources severely limits what you can change on your portion of lake frontage in order to protect animal and aquatic habitats. If you do not plan to swim, it may not be important to you, but it will affect future value.
Is the lot level?
Some lake lots have a gentle slope to the water while others have incredibly steep hills. No one wants to lug a cooler up and down three flights of stairs. Look for the most level lot you can afford.
Are there invasive species in the lake?
Invasive species are species that are not native to the area and do not have natural predators. Aquatic invasive species have been infiltrating inland lakes after having been carried in -- unknowingly -- on overseas freighters. The giant ships enter the St. Lawrence Seaway and travel up through the Great Lakes to bring their goods to the United States, all the while dropping off the invasive stowaways.
Ask if there are any invasive species in the lake that you are interested in purchasing on. Local experts and state wildlife divisions are actively fighting pests, like zebra mussels, and aquatic plants, like purple loosestrife.
Knowing the answers to the above questions will better educate you on the lakefront single family homes that you are considering. The more you understand about lake life, the easier it will be to know if you are choosing the right lakefront home.