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Considerations Before Buying a Home on a Lake

By Bill Gassett | May 1, 2023

Many have dreams of living by the water, so buying a lake house might be something you plan to do. It offers great summer vacations and fun water activities and could be your best home purchase.

But before you begin looking for lake houses for sale, there are some things you need to know. We will examine essential considerations before purchasing a lake home.

Can You Afford a Lake House?

There are more costs with these types of homes compared to other properties. Before setting your sights on living by the lake, you must be sure you can afford it.

Buy a Lake House

Purchase Cost

Houses for sale with lakefront are more desirable and expensive than similar homes elsewhere. If this is your second home, typically, financing will be more difficult with a larger down payment required.

Ensuring the square footage is accurate will be essential as most lake homes sell for much higher dollars per square foot.


This type of home will likely mean higher homeowners insurance premiums and flood insurance could also be necessary. It might still be a good idea if the lender doesn’t require flood insurance.


The home is likely to cost more to maintain. If there is a dock, this will need regular attention, and the home is likely to suffer more from the elements.

You will need to either take care of this yourself or pay someone, and do you want these extra responsibilities?

Lake Activities

You’ll want to make the most of the lake, but this isn’t usually cheap. The cost of water skiing, jet skiing, and boating needs to be within your budget.

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Lake House

Even if you think you've found your dream lake house, there are some questions to ask to ensure it isn't a nightmare.

  • What waterfront rights does the property have?
  • Does the dock belong to the property owner?
  • Has the quality of the lake water been tested recently?
  • Is flood insurance required?
  • Is the house in an area governed by a homeowners association? If so, check on the HOA fees.
  • Does the home have a private septic system? It is vital to have a septic system inspection when public sewer is not available.
  • Are the utilities more expensive because of the location?
  • How close are the nearest grocery stores and other amenities?
  • What is the cell phone service like?

If you work with a real estate agent who is experienced and knowledgeable about the local area, they might already have the answers to these questions and a few more you need to know.

The Best Way to Buy a Lake House

If you have looked at the downsides and still want to purchase, there are a few different things to do when buying a lake house.

Getting Preapproved

Before shopping for a lake property, you must get preapproval from a lender for the loan you need. Buying a second home will be more difficult to qualify, and you will need a higher credit score.

Lake houses often sell quickly, so you'll want to ensure you're prepared before making an offer.

Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Hiring an experienced Realtor ensures your interests are reliably represented.

But when buying a lakefront property, you want an agent who specializes or is at least very knowledgeable about this type of home.

They will know the right questions to ask and help you avoid pitfalls with this type of home.

Getting The Home Inspected

A home inspection should be part of any home purchase, which is even more crucial with lake houses. With a home next to the water, there is more risk of damage through water finding its way in and damaging the structure.

What is the Right Time to Buy?

While buying a lake house at any time of the year is possible, certain times are better to get you a good deal.

In the spring, there will be many more lake houses for sale. You will have the biggest choice available at this time.

Spring is also when there are more buyers, so that you might face more competition. This means that homes are more likely to sell for more money.

If you're looking for a better deal, the end of summer or later is a better time to search for a lake house. There will be less competition from buyers, and sellers will be more motivated to sell the property before winter arrives.

You can ask local real estate agents if it's a good time to buy a house. Remember, all real estate is local.

Final Thoughts on Buying a Lake Home

While a lake house is a great place to have fun and entertain, there are a few more things to consider when buying this type of home. Though it can make a great vacation property, you must know the potential downsides before buying.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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