9 Ways to Avoid Getting Burned When Buying Waterfront Property
1. Water Front, Access and View. Not all waterfront property is created equal. Waterfront is not the same as water access. There are no guarantees when it comes to water views. Assess the risk of development that might restrict access or views before buying.
2. Navigable Water. How much water do you need for your boat? How much height do you need for your sailboat's mast or power boat's flying bridge? Check for down river obstacles such as fixed bridges and overhanging power lines.
3. Piers and Water Depth. Verify, verify, verify. Remember old fashioned lead lines? Now is the time to check that pier and the water depth at different times of high and low tides. You might have just enough water today and might not the next.
4. National Flood Insurance. Who needs it? You will need it depending on the elevation of your home above the high water flood levels. Unless your home is located high up on a hillside, you should assume that you will need National Flood Insurance.
5. Exposure: North, East, South, West. What's the best exposure for you? Do you want to watch the sun set or the sun rise? Do you want direct light and a South-facing home or indirect light and a North-facing home?
6. Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Program. If you're within 1,000 feet of tidal waters or tidal wetlands, your building plans will be subject to additional scrutiny and requirements. Think before you buy. Consider engineering feasibility contingencies and get approval to do what you want before you purchase.
7. Piers and Pier Permits. Pier permitting is a process specific to determining if you can build a pier extending from your waterfront property should one not exist. The process involves county and state agencies who review permit applications. You'll also need the appropriate permits to lengthen your pier.
8. Know Your Rights. Riparian Rights define your rights as an owner for the use and enjoyment of the water that flows across or along your land. They include your right as an owner of land abutting a body of water to make use of the water area for piers, boat houses, for fishing, boating and navigation, and the right of access for such purposes.
9. Get Help. Hiring the right real estate agent to assist you in your search for your ideal waterfront home is essential. A good agent can help you assess these and other considerations before you purchase that bay front cottage or waterfront mansion.