Properties on the waterfront
Waterfront Real Estate – Things to Bear in Mind
In the eyes of many, the proximity of water will upgrade any location they consider as future place of residence. Some love the sound of the surf and like nothing better than to lay on the beach and enjoy the view. Others appreciate the tranquillity of lake shores or a riverbank for fishing. If you feel the same way, why not buy a property right by the water? Waterfront real estate is also sought-after as buy-to-let investment because tenants appreciate the benefits of a waterfront location as much as anybody, and will gladly pay extra for it. The sections below will discuss a few things you should bear in mind if you consider buying a waterfront property.
Why Buy a Waterfront Property?
The very first question that comes to mind when considering the acquisition of waterfront property concerns your reasons. Even though a house or condominium by the water will, of course, lend itself to classic owner-occupancy, properties of this type are often acquired for temporary use only, be it as holiday cottage or a retreat of one sort or another. Accordingly, such properties are subject to differing requirements, especially in regard to size and fit-out. If you intend to inhabit your waterfront property permanently, it will naturally have to meet entirely different requirements than a short stay of a few weeks in the summertime or on weekends would require.
Very similar aspects need to be considered if you plan to buy waterfront real estate as buy-to-let investment. If you are looking for long-term tenants, the property should not be too remote, and should have access to standard infrastructure amenities. A cottage by the side of a lake in the woods without internet and access to the road network may be exciting for holidaymakers but will hardly be considered for permanent residence. If you plan to let your waterfront property on a seasonal basis, its fit-out may be more rustic than usual. But bear in mind that a fluctuation of tenants also involves extra costs and effort on location.
A third variant is the acquisition of a property close to water against your retirement. In this scenario, the property is often rented out for the time being before the owner claims intended owner-occupancy and moves in at the end of his or her working life. The property selection for this purpose should be particularly prudent. On the one hand, the property should be easy to let for short periods of time while, on the other hand, it will have to meet your personal needs as you grow older. Things to consider in this context include the distance to the nearest physician, the shopping amenities, and your options for implementing handicap accessibility.
Waterfront Real Estate – from the Urban Apartment to the Secluded Lakeside Home
Depending on how well the respective region is developed, a given waterfront may be more than a collection of scattered bungalows and detached homes. You will often find semi-detached houses or even multi-unit dwellings in the immediate vicinity of the ocean or another body of water, or simply with a direct lake view. In more rural areas, by contrast, the dominant form tends to be stand-alone country cottages and compact beach houses or the typical single-storey, flat-roofed bungalow.
When seeking to buy a waterfront property, you also need to consider the main purpose it is to serve in addition to the optimal property type. Small structures are far easier to let as holiday homes than opulent buildings. However, in some regions it is quite normal to convert multi-unit dwellings into holiday flats. If you manage to ensure a sound occupancy rate, these will deliver quick returns on your investment.
But if you plan to buy a detached home close to the water for owner-occupancy, you need to reconcile the size of the dwelling floor area with fit-out and price. Waterfront properties are often much more expensive than comparable plots inland. So, you will have to make up your mind whether you are prepared to compromise in regard to size and fit-out features in return for closer proximity to lake or sea. It may sound odd, but the actual distance to the water is indeed the key distinction of many such properties.
Real Estate Near or Directly on the Waterfront
You probably know the feeling of studying hotel rates ahead of a seaside holiday. You may have noticed when doing so that hotels will get pricier the closer they are to the beach, and that rooms with an ocean view will be the most expensive ones in the house. Much the same is true for waterfront real estate. Buildings on the coast where you step from the front door right onto the beach tend to be pricier than those located even just several hundred yards inland.
The situation is similar for properties near rivers and lakes. But things always also depend on availability and setting. A single property overlooking the only body of water far and wide is bound to be more expensive than one in a large number of properties around Lake Müritz in the Mecklenburg Lake District. Regional and even local price differences, which can fluctuate considerably, do not make things any easier when you are trying to pick the right waterfront property for your purposes. We therefore recommend bringing an experienced estate agent aboard who is thoroughly familiar with the peculiarities of the respective market.
Renting or Buying Waterfront Real Estate
Renting or buying is always a fundamental question when making real estate decisions. Waterfront properties are no exception. However, listings for waterfront properties are few and far between, and even experienced estate agents are nonplussed at times how rarely providers advertise such plots. Accordingly, it can actually make sense to buy rather than rent such hard-to-find assets once you find one.
The advantages of owning your own waterfront property outright are obvious. You will have your very own holiday cottage – assuming you will want to use it that way – and will never have to worry about finding a place to stay by the water. You may let your place temporarily at any time, and you will have a particularly easy time doing so if your waterfront property lies in a typical tourist area. If that is the case, your financing arrangement will to some extent resemble an investment with return expectation.
The drawback, as with any other real estate acquisition, is the financing term, of course. Especially if you do not make the waterfront property your permanent home, you need to make sure you can afford the extra expense. If you let the property to generate income, you will have to refurbish it from time to time. The costs generated by this can be heightened by the proximity of salt water and ocean air alone. If you use the waterfront property exclusively for your own purposes, you also limit yourself to some degree. The decision to travel to the Mediterranean for a change will become a bit harder when you realise you won’t be using the cottage you own on the Baltic seaboard.
Waterfront Real Estate: Other Things to Remember
In addition to a property’s location and dwelling floor area, there are a few other things you ought to bear in mind when planning to buy waterfront real estate. For one thing, its state of repair is important. Sellers will often praise the beautiful beach location while skipping such details as age and condition. If you are left with the need for serious refurbishment work, the fact should be reflected in the price. But in any case, be sure to price the refurbishment costs into your budget.
Especially when you occupy your waterfront property only intermittently, you need to think about garden maintenance, too. Unkempt grounds will not only discourage holiday tenants but also cause frustration in your own family. In addition, a holiday cottage cannot be rented out to tourists without adequate furnishings and fit-out. So, you will have to factor in capital expenditures toward the interior fit-out from the start.