Want to Buy on the Waterfront?

Whether they’re near or on the ocean or on a lake, waterfront properties, with their picturesque settings and range of outdoor activities, often give their owners the feeling that they’re on a nonstop vacation. But living in them comes at a premium price, compared with standard homes, according to Danielle Hale, the chief economist at the real estate information site Realtor.com.

“Waterfront properties are generally more expensive to buy and require a lot more maintenance than your usual vacation home, which means extra money on top of the buying price,” she said.

And while waterfront homes, especially coastal properties, were once considered a solid investment, experts today say that newer homes are more likely to keep their value. Prices on older homes have softened somewhat in recent years because of rising sea levels caused by climate change, Ms. Hale said.

“Coastal properties are increasingly vulnerable to wind and flood damage from hurricanes that are stronger, thanks to climate change,” she said. “Flooding is now also a risk, even when it’s not hurricane season, which means that waterfront homes are riskier buys than they used to be.”

Here is advice on how to make an informed decision about buying a waterfront property.

Factor In Climate Change

Rising sea levels have decreased the value of older waterfront properties around the world, according to Danny Hertzberg, a real estate agent with the Jills Zeder Group in Miami Beach, who specializes in sales of waterfront homes. “Older homes were built at lower elevations and are more apt to be affected by severe flooding from storms and hurricanes,” he said. But properties constructed in the last five years tend to be built at higher levels, making them more resistant to flooding. These homes have a higher value, compared with older properties, and Mr. Hertzberg said buying one increases the likelihood that the property will appreciate over time.

Ms. Hale added that while the value of waterfront properties has grown more slowly in recent years because of climate change, appreciation of inland properties in waterfront areas is faster in comparison. “They’re not in high flood risk locations,” she said.

Consider Resort Properties

If you want to buy a waterfront home that comes with minimal hassles and a range of amenities, look at properties attached to resorts. George Filopoulos, the founding principal of Metrovest Equities, a New York real estate development firm behind several waterfront properties, including the Residences at Gurney’s in Montauk, said that the resort’s maintenance staff will usually help with your property’s upkeep. “Saltwater is corrosive, and homes, especially the exteriors and deck, can take a real beating because of this. Maintaining everything can be expensive,” he said. In short, the burden is a lot less if your resort is helping.

Owners also have access to resort amenities like swimming pools, restaurants and gyms. Many of these amenities, such as fitness classes and access to children’s clubs, are free. Residences at Gurney’s owners, for example, can take an average of five fitness classes a day for free, including beach boot camps, spinning and yoga.

Another perk of owning in a resort: If you’re interested in renting out your home to generate extra income, the resort’s rental office will find the renters. Mr. Filopoulos said that resorts usually take a commission of between 30 percent and 50 percent of the total rental cost for this service.

Buyers should be aware that waterfront properties that are part of resorts may cost more upfront because of the services that are provided. For some homeowners, however, the price may be worth it.

Hire an Experienced Broker

Before committing to work with a broker, make sure that the person has sold waterfront properties in the destinations you’re looking at, said Bill Gassett, a waterfront specialist with Re/Max Executive Realty, in Hopkinton, Mass. “A waterfront property is a specialty property, and the agent will be able to give you the information specific to owning one in that location,” he said. “If they can’t, you could end up buying a home without fully knowing what it means to live there.”

For example, if you’re looking at either a lake or a beachfront property, the agent should know whether the bottom of the water and the shoreline are rocky, sandy or muddy. The agent should also be able to tell you what recreational activities are possible on the water.

The agent should also be able to connect you with your potential neighbors and other locals who can share their perspective on living in the area.

Insurance Requirements

Waterfront homes have more expensive insurance policies than nonwaterfront properties because they’re at higher risk for flooding and wind damage, Mr. Hertzberg said. Also, depending on the area, you may be required to purchase multiple policies including ones for flood, wind and the home itself. “Flood insurance is costly to begin with, and depending on what type of flood zone your property is in, it can get super expensive,” Mr. Hertzberg said. Before you buy, understand what insurance policies the property requires and how much they will cost. Find out the latter from an insurance broker who has written recent waterfront policies. “The policies for waterfront properties are complicated, and if you don’t work with someone who’s familiar with them, you could end up overpaying,” Mr. Filopoulos said.

Make Multiple Visits

And go during different times of the day and on both weekdays and weekends. Mr. Hertzberg said that a dream property could be in a neighborhood that has a peaceful, laid-back feel during the week but a far rowdier vibe on the weekends, with loud music playing and more people out and about.

And while the sunrise views may be stunning, the home may not get sunset views at all. “A big mistake many buyers make is not seeing their home in different settings,” Mr. Hertzberg said. “Your perspective could change from one visit to the next.”

Do You Like Boating?

Mr. Hertzberg said that many buyers are keen on owning a waterfront property because they’re interested in boating. “They own a boat or want to buy one and use it on the body of water,” he said. If you are a boater, make sure that the property in question can accommodate the size of your boat. Also know the ordinances covering boating and docking boats in that area. In Miami Beach, for example, a boat is permitted to dock only if there is a buffer of 10 feet between your neighbors’ property lines and the front and the back of your boat. This means that if you have a property with 60 feet on the water, you’re allowed to dock a boat that’s no more than 40 feet long.

A version of this article appears in print on June 22, 2019 in The International New York Times.

Information courtesy of: New York Times

For link to full article, please click here.

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