When thinking about buying a lake house, there are a few questions to keep in mind. You don’t want to make such a big decision without considering the most important features. Whether the lake house will become your second home, a rental, your permanent address, or just a place to escape on the weekends, thinking through these details can help you confirm that you’re making the right choice.
1. Is the driving distance reasonable?
You don’t want to commit to a property that’s inconveniently located. Be brutally honest with your calculations on the drive-time. That way, you can avoid the problem of loving a property, but hating the distance it takes to get there.
If you have a few different properties in mind, comparing and contrasting the driving time to each location might help you narrow down your options. Do you want a lake house that’s just an hour away, or can you make do with a trip of 2 or 3 hours? Also consider the traffic. Will you be leaving after work on a Friday? In that case, you might need to add another 30 minutes to your travel plans.
2. What lake house maintenance is required?
Being handy doesn’t necessarily mean you want to have to put in a lot of hard work for your new lake house. A close critique of what’s working and what needs repairing can help you decide whether you want to make an offer on the property.
For example, does the lake house have a boat house or floating dock that needs major dock repairs? If you aren’t sure, you might want to have a waterfront expert come out to do a review of the existing structures. Just like how a home inspector analyzes every corner of a house, a waterfront review can give you valuable information on the structural soundness of a dock or water feature. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying a property without these checks. Otherwise, you might have to foot the bill for an expense seawall repair or other renovation down the road.
3. Do you have access to other amenities?
In addition to counting the miles from the lake house to your permanent address, you’ll also need to study the distance from the lake house to other amenities. How much time are you willing to spend driving to the nearest gas station or grocery store?
Odds are, your full-time home is within close driving distance to everything you need. But your new lake house might have a more remote location. Depending on what your expectations are, you might not be ready to go with an address that’s too far “off the grid.” Think through all the requirements before you move forward with your decision. Do you need a hardware store around the corner? How about a movie theater? What you plan to do at the lake house might help you determine what amenities are necessary, and what are just unnecessary luxuries.
4. Are the lake’s regulations agreeable?
Some lakes that you’re looking at might have strict regulations as part of their homeowners’ association agreements. If you aren’t sure about these rules upfront, it’s important to double-check with the sellers so nothing gets missed.
Are you going to have the freedom you want at your lake house, or will you have to make some adjustments to your plans based on the HOA regulations? For example, are you going to be able to build your own floating dock close to your shoreline, or are there certain restrictions? Knowing about these potential roadblocks upfront can give you the clarity you need to feel confident in your new place.
5. Can you enjoy the lake house year-round?
While a lake house tends to be most enjoyable during the summer months, you’ll want to make sure your investment has year-round appeal. Assuming you can’t get on the water in the winter, will you have other reasons to utilize your property during the “off season?”
A lake house has to hold up to other measures that just being near the water. The inside of your home is equally important. That’s why you’ll want to do a careful walk-through all around the property. Can you see the potential to enjoy the space during the holiday season? Are the views nice enough that you’d still want to visit even if you can’t go out on your boat? Making sure you’ve got the total package will be a great benefit to you and your family. After all, you don’t want your new space to go to waste!