Pulse Results

Pulse: For Buyers of Lake Property, Acreage Trumps Dock

Pulse: For Buyers of Lake Property, Acreage Trumps Dock

Last month, the LANDTHINK Pulse posed the following question to our audience: In your opinion, which property is a better value for the money?

December Pulse Sponsored by

National Land Partners

Our informal online survey revealed that 66.6% of respondents believe that buying a 5 Acre Lake View Lot with a Free Boat Slip for $29,900 is a better value than buying a 1 Acre Dockable Lakefront Lot for $69,900. For those who aren’t familiar with the different types of lake lots, lakefront property includes shoreline as part of the property, while lake view property is within sight of the water but does not include any direct frontage on the lake. Most people dream of owning property in a lake community and enjoying the breathtaking views and tranquility that comes with living close to the water. Perhaps more than any other type of real estate, buying property in a lake community is as much about a lifestyle as it is a real estate investment.

Lake living offers something for everyone- there’s never a shortage of entertainment. From swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking or jet skiing- almost any recreational activity you could want is available to you. Owning lake property provides many summer recreational activities and in winter, when the people thin out, it’s an ideal getaway. 

Apart from the beautiful surroundings, living on or near water has a number of therapeutic benefits. It relaxes you mind, cleanses your soul, increases feelings of peace and reduces feelings of stress. Research has shown that our body and mind tend to have a personal and emotional relationship with water, also known as “Blue Mind” effect. It’s a state when our body and soul feel more relaxed when near water. People love the water, and this was evidenced by a previous LANDTHINK Pulse question, which revealed that a water feature (creek, river, pond, lake, etc.) was believed to be the most desirable feature when purchasing land. 

Purchasing lakefront property is unlike any other real estate. There are some particular issues that arise with purchasing and owning a homesite within a lake community that simply don’t exist with other types of property. Even if the seller insists the lot is buildable, buyers should perform their own due diligence and research on the property. If you plan on building a home on your lake lot in the future, here is a short list of factors that should be considered: 

Choose a lake that suits your needs
Why are you looking to purchase property in a lake community? Most people buy land near a lake to enjoy water activities such as water skiing, wakeboarding, or tubing, so make sure the lake can accommodate them. Some lakes restrict the usage of motorized boats and jet skis. Do you plan on doing a lot of fishing? Not all lakes are good for fishing success- so keep that in mind when searching waterfront lots for sale.

If or when you decide to build on the lot, will it be your primary residence or getaway retreat? Consider how far you would like to be from your primary residence; two to three hours is ideal if it will be a weekend abode. Last year, buyers said they didn’t want much distance between their primary residence and their recreational land. According to the results of our survey, 37.0% of our audience indicated that they would be willing to travel 100 miles to use their recreational property.

Waterfront Buffer Zones
Get educated about the local rules and regulations. Most large lakes in Georgia, such as Clarks Hill Lake, Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell are controlled and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. In North Carolina lakes are managed by various state, federal and private agencies including Duke Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). In Alabama, Guntersville Lake is controlled by the TVA, and Weiss Lake by Alabama Power.

If your homesite is near the shoreline, your building plans may be subject to additional scrutiny and requirements from the local government and state law. In many cases, there are building ordinances that prevent homeowners from building within a certain distance from the shoreline. With the assistance of a land agent and homebuilder, buyers should determine what is static and what can be modified when it comes to lakes and lakefront properties.

Will the Home Owners Association, the Army Corps of Engineers or TVA hinder plans or ideas you’ve got for the property you’re considering? Will you be able to build a dock easily? Is your dock access restricted in any way? It’s important to obtain approval to do what you want before you commit to purchase a lake homesite. Dock permit applications must be reviewed by federal, state, county and local agencies, and often docks must meet the guidelines set for by the Army Corps of Engineers or other controlling entity.

Water Depth
It is important for a buyer to know how the water level of the lake is controlled, or if it is controlled at all. The water level on any lake can naturally fluctuate by rainfall, natural springs, and evaporation, but most lakes will have a dam that is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, or a power company. If your lot is located on the main channel it’s usually not enough fluctuation to matter, but if the lot you buy is on a cove, it can affect your access to the water. Some lakes are subject to winter draw-downs that assist in weed control and allow homeowners to repair or build docks and walls. 

Flood Zone
Depending on the location, the house you’d like to build might be in a probable flood zone and if you are taking out a mortgage, your lender will require you incur this cost. 

Lake Weed Management
Most lakes develop dense stands of aquatic vegetation that can interfere with intended uses and destroy the natural beauty of the water. Hydrilla and milfoil can take over a lake in no time and lead to flooding and interfere with fishing, swimming and boating. It’s important to find out who or which entity is going to be managing the weed growth. The costs will range from very little to thousands of dollars. 

Generally speaking, lake properties are an excellent investment. Because they provide stunning views and access to the water, they are often in high demand. This demand is not likely to diminish over the years since there are only so many waterfront properties available. What two buyers want and value in a lake property can be completely different, as evidenced by last month’s Pulse results.

Pulse Results: December 2019

5 Acre Lake View with Boat Slip for $29,900
If you have your heart set on a particular lake and have a tight budget, lake view properties could be your best option, as they will be considerably less expensive than lakefront lots. Buyers can reap all the benefits of lake living at a fraction of the cost. The 5 acre lot provides more acreage, which would mean a more breathing room from neighbors, plenty of privacy, and a big yard for pets or children. An overwhelming 66.6% of respondents saw the most value in having more acreage with a view and access to the lake from a boat slip. Boat slips resemble parking stalls for watercraft. Most boat slips are deeded, meaning that the bloat slip runs with the property. Boat slips typically add resale value to the property and give the owner direct access to the lake. The maintenance and upkeep is usually handled by the Home Owners Association making it an attractive option for many buyers.

1 Acre Dockable Lakefront for $69,900
When looking at lakefront property, the biggest advantage is that they are an increasingly scarce resource. After all, there is only a limited amount of shoreline on every lake. Due to the demand, property with frontage on the lake has a higher price tag. Many appraisers hold the opinion that the value of lakefront property is directly related to how many linear feet of direct shoreline exists, but this is not always the case. Appraisers will also evaluate the topography of the lot. Is the lot gently sloping to the water or do steep steps make for a long hike down to the water? The property’s ease of access to the lake and the quality of the frontage are important factors in the property’s value.

A buyer of lakefront property for sale will incur costs that can often be avoided by choosing a lake view or lake access homesite. Let’s be honest, dock upkeep is a con when considering buying a lakefront property. Docks are exposed to the elements and age quickly. Repairs and maintenance will be needed for as long as you own the property. There’s no arguing that a private dock and unobstructed views to the water add value to lake property, but based on our survey results, only 33.4% of respondents thought a smaller lakefront lot was the better value of the two choices.

Whether your best choice of lake homesite is dockable waterfront or lake view depends on your unique needs and circumstances. It helps to have a knowledgeable agent with experience selling property on the lake you’re considering. A land agent will help navigate the particular intricacies of buying, selling, and owning lake property.

LANDTHINK would like to thank National Land Partners for sponsoring the December Pulse and for coming up with a very interesting question to pose to our audience. The primary vision of National Land Partners (NLP) over the past five decades has been to help each person realize and achieve their dream of land ownership. Specializing in larger recreational and residential parcels, NLP has continued to be a dominant figure in land development. Researching the next upcoming area and buying large tracts of undeveloped land, allow the company to offer unbelievable deals and pass savings onto their customers. From lakefront living, golf course retreats, and panoramic mountain views, NLP is sure to have land to satisfy the dream of even the most meticulous purchaser.

Become a Pulse sponsor! It’s a great way to ensure your brokerage is the first one buyers and sellers call when they have a need to buy or sell property. You’ll get insane exposure on Social + Email + Web. That’s 500,000+ monthly eyes on you! Once you have it, you won’t want to give it up! Pulse sponsorships are offered on a first come first served basis and are subject to certain limitations. If your business would be interested in sponsoring a Pulse question, please contact us soon.

Do you have a Pulse question you’d like to suggest? Submit your question and we might choose yours!

We want to know what you think about our January Pulse question, chosen and sponsored by American Forest Management. What do you think will happen to land values in 2020? Answer now.

This content may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in part or in whole, without written permission of LANDTHINK. Use of this content without permission is a violation of federal copyright law. The articles, posts, comments, opinions and information provided by LANDTHINK are for informational and research purposes only and DOES NOT substitute or coincide with the advice of an attorney, accountant, real estate broker or any other licensed real estate professional. LANDTHINK strongly advises visitors and readers to seek their own professional guidance and advice related to buying, investing in or selling real estate.

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