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Buying Maine Real Estate

Factors Affecting the Purchase of Waterfront Real Estate

When people think of Maine they often associate it with waterfront — whether it’s the spectacular Maine coast or one of our many lakes and rivers. People dream of owning a home on the water, whether it be a lake, river, or ocean — camp, cottage or estate. For many, views of sunrises and sunsets on a peaceful lake or sounds of the crashing surf bring feelings of happiness, serenity, and calmness. If you think you may be ready to make this dream come true for yourself, there are a few considerations you may want to reflect upon before taking that first step.

Considerations Before You Buy Waterfront Real Estate

Firstly, address the exact reasons why you want to own a waterfront property. What kind of activities do you plan on doing? Boating, fishing, and swimming are common water activities, but cannot be accomplished on just any body of water. Be sure that the water on your prospective property can accommodate your needs and desires.

Decide if you want to have rural surroundings, or if you would like to live near more urban conveniences. Choose your prospects accordingly.

Be aware of any federal, state, and local laws that may affect you as a waterfront property owner. Research these laws before deciding if that waterfront home is really for you.

Know that, as an owner of waterfront property, you will have a responsibility to protect that environment for future generations. This practice is called stewardship and should never be taken lightly. Protecting the natural shoreline of your waterfront real estate will not only benefit the environment, but your investment as well.

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.

Water Quality

You want to be sure that the quality of the water meets your personal standards. The water, wildlife, and lake bottom are just some of the important factors to consider. Remember, while the landscaping of your land may be altered to your specifications, the water is the one thing on your property that cannot be changed.

Ideally, you want your shoreline to be sandy. Mucky shorelines are not very pleasant to walk on. While there will almost always be some muck on the shore, less is better.

If you plan on fishing on your lake, be sure to research the native species of fish living within your body of water.

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.

The lake bottom is another substantial factor to consider. As with the shore, you don’t want an overly mucky bottom. Preferably, you will most likely want a sandy bottom or similar material.

The clearer the water, the better. “A recent study of over 1,000 waterfront properties in Minnesota found, when all other factors were equal, properties on lakes with clear water command significantly higher property prices.”

Making an Offer

Make your sales contract contingent upon obtaining insurance. Contact the state insurance department to find insurers that cover your area and assistance programs for coastal properties. Also, be aware that insurers generally won't compensate you for land lost to beach erosion.

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.

Remember, investing in waterfront real estate requires common sense and due diligence, just like any other investment.


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