3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Waterfront Home

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– Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist 

In our area, when you think of waterfront property your first thought may be Lake Michigan, especially if you’re looking for a vacation or weekend home. Karen Strohl, a Previews Property Specialist in New Buffalo, said her first question after a client says they’d like a “waterfront property” is “What type of waterfront? Are you looking for Lake Michigan, an inland lake or a river?”

Harbor Country, where she’s located, has some of the most amazing Lake Michigan waterfront properties, but the lakefront comes at a price so she makes sure to find the buyer’s price point and educate them on the type of properties that would fit into their range. For some, an inland lake may be a better value in terms of size, privacy and amenities. For others a country home would suit if it’s within a short trip of the lake.

If Lake Michigan is the waterfront property you desire, then then next question Karen would ask is, “What type of beach access do you want?” In Harbor Country, there are three types of beach access.. Which type of beach access appeals to you?

  • A waterfront home in St Joseph with Littoral Rights.

    A waterfront home in St Joseph with Littoral Rights. Listed by Donna Iwamoto & Karen Strohl.

    Littoral rights: Do you want complete privacy and control? Then you’ll need to ask for Littoral rights. It is the most valuable and ensures that you own the property and the beach to the high water mark. “Having littoral beach rights mean one is assured of privacy on the beach because one controls who is allowed on their particular stretch of beach.  Littoral beach rights guarantees a very low density of people using the beach, and Chicagoans love the luxury of space and privacy.”

  • Lakeside MI  home with an Association Beach

    Lakeside MI home with an Association Beach. Listed by Donna Iwamoto & Karen Strohl.

    Association beach: This is the second most valuable. It means you share a beach with a group of homeowners, but it is not public. It allows you to have a more private, less crowded experience.

  • Township beach: This means the beach is open for public use of the residents. It saves you money, but these beaches are generally more crowded.

Another question high on Karen’s list for a prospective buyer is “how will you be using the home?” There are some couples who want a cute little cottage where they can escape from it all without visitors. Others want a home that extended family and friends can use as a vacation or weekend home base.  There are so many options. For example, Lakeside has large homes with lawns and is a more formal community. Whereas Union Pier has a lot of cottages and is less formal. The experience ranges within from the Indiana border through to St. Joseph, Michigan.

One of the many reasons people love this area is that the “proximity to the city makes it very desirable.”  Karen herself is from Chicago and was charmed by the clean, white, fine sand beaches and how you can “experience a lifestyle typically you don’t have in Chicago.”

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