It was five a.m. in the morning. The birds have begun to sing their morning anthems, ready to embrace the first rays of the sun. The wind was pushing gentle waves into the shores of the Deep Creek Lake. Jane wakes up to prepare the dough for her nephew’s favorite cookies. They’ll come today to visit her together with their parents - Christina, Jane’s daughter, and Robert. They’ll go first to the farmer’s market at Oakland Town Pavilion and later, they’ll visit a few homes for sale. They have already found a real estate agent on RealEstateAgent.com and have decided to relocate here, in the heart of nature, to grow their family. We will spend a day with them and try to find what makes lakefront living so appealing.

Is a lake house a good investment?

The value of a waterfront property depends on the views and its location, for sure. An ocean view is far more precious than a lake view. However, lakefront living comes with its close-knit communities and a laid back lifestyle. Seaside resorts are far too noisy and crowded during the season. Lakefront towns are rarely taken by storm. So, yes, if you’re looking for peace and tranquility, a lake house is a good investment. But a house by the lake is a great vacation home, too, which can be rented while you don’t use it to cover the maintenance costs.

Is a lake house a good investment at any age? Lakefront living is not only for seniors or families. “My husband and I moved here for our retirement years, but I wish we had moved here earlier,” Jane explains. “We chose a house up the hill because we enjoyed the view from the porch. This also kept the cost of homeowners' insurance quite low.”

We know that lakefront properties are also more prone to flooding. In most cases, owners of lakefront properties must pay for flood insurance. Real estate agents who sell properties around a lake should be able to show you how the shoreline moved over the years so that you know what to expect in the future. Is the water moving away from your property or is the water eating up the land? These are all very important details for a lakefront living enthusiast.

In general, though, waterfront properties tend to appreciate better than those further away from the body of water. Moreover, if the market falls, a lakefront property retains more of its value, so it’s generally safer than other types of investments.

What does water frontage mean in real estate?

Water frontage refers to the length of land abutting on water. Lakefront living requires owners to familiarize themselves with the riparian rights or water rights. In general, access to a lake is granted to all properties upland and across the road from a lake. Docks can be built but there might be restrictions imposed by the HOA or the local administration.

“I would have loved a long dock for our house, but we compromised for safety reasons. As we get older, we become clumsier. A wrong step is enough to get me to the hospital or worse,” said Jane laughing. “But we know how to be good neighbors, so we made plenty of friends around the lake and we often enjoy fishing and sunbathing on their docks and boats. My daughter, though, is looking for a house right on the shore and our real estate agent has just found two nearby. I can’t wait to see them. It’s been a long time since I felt the butterflies in my stomach and the excitement of buying a new house.”

How much does it cost to build a lake home?

Waterfront properties are usually priced above the average market price in the area. Building costs are also higher due to the hydroisolation work. The cost per square foot for a new building is between $120 and $150, and most new homes by a lake are priced at $600,000 or above, because builders also have to make a profit, which is usually 20%. Building your own house by a lake is a stressful experience that tests many relationships, even your marriage. Also, expect to pay a lot more for the lot abbutting on the lake.

If you are a boating family and enjoy watersports, paying a little extra to have access to a body of water may be worth it. Christina, Jane’s daughter, explains: “We have grown tired of the city life. Yes, there are more jobs, more schools, and many friends, but we have to consider our well-being in the long run. We have a budget of $400,000 for our new home in McHenry. We don’t want to use a jumbo loan, although we could. I think that we can find a nice waterfront property within this budget. This will allow us to slow down a little bit. I guess we are lucky to be able to make this move because both I and my husband are able to work from home. But, anyway, sooner or later I think we would have made this move. We love it here!”

What are the best places to buy a lake house?

Christina and her family chose to move on to the shore of Deep Creek Lake, but she said that before that, she explored at least five options. Here are her top picks:

Lake Lure, North Carolina

The backdrop for the movie Dirty Dancing, this town still spreads the dance bug with its Dirty Dancing Festival. It will take place on September 13-14, 2019 in Morse Park, celebrating its 10th anniversary. “We didn’t choose this town because the community is really small and comprised of many seniors and empty nesters. We wanted something else,” said Christina. The town is indeed small with about 1,000 inhabitants and the median age is 63. There are plenty of affordably-priced vacant lots while houses start at about $200,000. Does it sound like a great place for your retirement years? Find a real estate agent in Lake Lure right now and peruse their listings.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

“I remember our trips to Switzerland and the name of this lake seemed to constantly remind us of them. But my husband objected that it’s too far north. He dreads all that snow and the never-ending house maintenance required during the winter months, although we have found a very nice home for only $250,000 with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms on a large lot. Anyway, I think it’s better to live closer to your parents or to your in-laws if at all possible because they can give you a hand and babysit your children,” confessed Christina. Jane was nodding and smiling in approval. Overall, lakefront living in Wisconsin is cheaper than the US average, but it is quite a popular tourist attraction, drawing many boating families and golf players.

Saugatuck, Michigan

Sunsets in Saugatuck are truly spectacular, almost as if you were overlooking the ocean. Oval Beach is definitely among the best you can find in the Midwest. And even if the town has roughly 1,000 inhabitants, homes are quite pricey. “Houses start at around $400,000 but we would have felt as if we were in a seaside resort, especially during the summer,” said Robert, trying to explain why they crossed Saugatuck off the list. However, it might be exactly what you’ve been looking for, so give it a try and find a real estate agent in Saugatuck to get a better feeling of the area.

Sevierville, Tennessee

Hometown of country legend Dolly Parton, this lake town sits not too far from the Douglas Lake and has a population of about 16,000 people. Traffic can become congested once the area is flooded with tourists. In terms of real estate, those looking to buy a vacation rental can choose between lakefront properties built in the ‘70s to modern mansions in the range of $1-2 million or more. Christina remembers that she and her hubby didn’t really feel a strong connection with this town, but they think that investing in Sevierville may be an option in the future. If you want to invest in a vacation property around Douglas Lake, find a real estate agent in Sevierville today!

Sandpoint, Idaho

Sitting on Idaho’s largest lake, Lake Pend Oreille, the city of Sandpoint is a quaint small town but the real estate market here is going crazy. Home prices have skyrocketed and many locals think that the cost of living may force them out of the city. “The good part about Sandpoint is that there are so many things to do both during the summer and during the winter. We have a friend who purchased a cabin there and he couldn’t be happier. He’s renting it through Airbnb most of the time. We might move there one day, once our children get out of college,” says Robert. The cheapest cabin in Sandpoint is priced at $105,000. Sandpoint is also among the best cities to retire in Idaho, according to niche[dot]com. Sandpoint real estate agents have access to many interesting listings so schedule a meeting today.

Lakefront living has many benefits. First of all, air quality is a lot better than in the middle of a big city. Secondly, the outdoors and the great views are really spectacular and have their role in alleviating stress. Then there is a lot of privacy and tranquility. The lake also provides a wide variety of recreational activities, from fishing to water skiing. So, is a lake house a good investment? Yes, it is. But you have to be aware of the maintenance costs if you don’t plan to live there permanently. So, take the plunge and make one more step towards your waterfront property!

Author's Bio: 

RealEstateAgent.com is the Official Real Estate Agent Directory® connecting homebuyers with home sellers across the USA.