Property that fronts directly onto water brings tranquility, privacy, breathtaking views, and the opportunity for water recreation. It’s a great place to entertain family and friends, making an attractive Airbnb or VRBO rental. What’s more, waterfront property tends to appreciate handsomely. However, owning waterfront property entails certain responsibilities and challenges. Here’s what you need to consider before buying waterfront property.
Challenges of owning waterfront property
- Before buying waterfront property, you need to determine whether it lies in a flood zone. The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has a web page where you can check. If your property lies in a flood zone, your regular homeowners insurance will not cover flood damage. You’ll need to contact a qualified agent to buy flood insurance coverage.
- Homeowners insurance for waterfront property will be higher because of the increased risk of storm damage, especially along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
- If you buy waterfront property along an ocean coastline or on a barrier island, you’ll need to formulate a plan for when hurricanes threaten. The plan should cover efforts to mitigate flooding by boarding up windows and placing sandbags around the house. You should also determine how you’ll evacuate if the need arises.
- Property located alongside a lake or stream faces the risk of significant erosion when heavy rain runoff surges downward into the body of water. You’ll need to use ground cover landscaping, retaining walls, diversion and other methods to mitigate erosion, all of which will add to your ownership costs.
- County health departments impose more stringent rules on home septic systems near bodies of water. You may be required to have an aeration septic system or to place the system well away from the body of water, both of which could add significant costs.
- Because waterfront property is more valuable than landlocked sites, your property tax bill will be higher.
- Your use of your property may be subject to the rules of a homeowners association (HOA). You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions documents, which may cover such matters as maintenance of your dock and boathouse. HOA dues are generally higher in a waterfront community than in a typical neighborhood.