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From stunning views to hypnotic tranquility, waterfront living holds a special appeal for many people.
However, some special circumstances need to be considered before taking the waterfront investment plunge. So how can you ensure that living on the water is right for you?
Read on to discover five essential questions buyers should ask before signing the contract for any waterfront home.
1. What type of property do you want?
Waterfront options vary widely. In Maryland, for example, there’s the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, more than 50 creeks and rivers, plus many lakes and streams. When envisioning waterfront life, most people hone in on scenic views and outdoor activities like boating and paddle boarding. But depending upon the type of property, these benefits may or may not be permitted.
Here are brief descriptions of the three most common types of water-oriented properties:
- Waterfront: These residences are situated directly on a body of water. The property extends directly to the water’s edge.
- Water access: With this type of home, you can access the water but you may or may not have a view of it. Often, accessibility is granted because the house is in a community that offers water access. This could be a community beach or shared dock, for example.
- Water view: This could mean a number of things. Some are expansive views of large bodies of water, while others are tiny glimpses of water in the distance that can barely be seen. It is also important to understand that, depending on your property’s surroundings, your water view could disappear based on the remodeling decisions of area residents. For instance, if the neighbor situated between your home and the beach erects a tall fence or outbuilding, your water view could be gone for good.
2. Does the property have riparian or non-riparian rights?
When a waterfront home has riparian rights, the deed extends to the water’s edge. The body of water forms one of the property’s boundary lines. When you own riparian rights, you have direct access to the water and the right to extend use into the water, such as building a pier, with the approval of the local government. An important restriction on this regulation is that your right to extend and improve your lot cannot encroach upon your neighbor’s rights.
When a home is non-riparian, it means there is water access but the property leading up to the water is not owned by the homeowner. It is typically owned by a community association or county. In most cases, a house that does not have riparian rights means it does not have a pier or dock in the water. However, some communities will grant the owners access to the water.
3. Is the water quality acceptable?
The water quality fronting the property is more important than many buyers think. This is of particular concern for those planning to fish or enjoy recreational activities in the water. When unsafe for drinking or filled with flourishing algae blooms or harmful bacteria, water quality can negatively impact home value. Water pollution comes from many sources, such as:
- Acid rain
- Overflows of untreated sewage
- Runoff of animal excreta and fertilizers
- Chemical pollution from industrial sites & activities
- Oil & chemical spills
Coming in contact with contaminated water can pose serious health risks and can trigger allergic reactions in pets and people. Before buying, closely evaluate the latest health reports concerning the water quality of nearby properties under consideration.
4. Is the property in a flood zone?
Heavy rains, broken dams, and storm surges can result in flood damage for some waterfront homes. A smart first step is to check FEMA’s flood zone maps to see if the property is in a high-risk, moderate-risk, or minimal-risk area for flooding. If the waterfront home you’re considering falls within a potential flood zone, you may need insurance to protect your investment. The cost of a flood insurance policy will be determined by the likelihood that the home and surrounding area will flood. Keep in mind that there can be other causes of flooding as well, such as plumbing mishaps and roofing issues. Although sellers or their agents should disclose previous water damage or flooding, it’s best to hire an independent inspector to look for any telltale signs of water intrusion.
5. Will I be able to enjoy the activities I want to engage in?
Before buying a waterfront property, consider the activities you want to participate in on the adjacent body of water and then determine if they are permitted and safe. For example, is fishing allowed? Is the water suitable for swimming and free from pollutants? Is boating permitted? If so, what types of vessels are allowed?
Everyone loves the idea of spending relaxing days on the lake, but each waterfront property has its nuances that can come into play. Asking these key questions ensures that the waterside home you invest in will exceed your expectations for many years to come.
Do you have additional questions or would you like more information about waterfront properties? The helpful professionals at Certified Title are here to make your real estate transaction smooth and hassle-free. Please contact our experienced team today.
About Certified Title Corporation: Since 1994, attorney-owned Certified Title Corporation has been furnishing residential and commercial real estate stakeholders across the nation with robust title insurance, settlement, and escrow services. Renowned for industry-leading reliability and an exemplary level of service and quality, the Maryland-based company helps clients from all walks of life achieve their asset goals. To learn more, call (888)486-5511 or visit https://www.certifiedtitlecorp.com/.
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