The Official RealEstateAgent.com Blog

56644

Last updated: February 22, 2024 • Real Estate Investing

What Are the Best Places to Buy Waterfront Property in the U.S.?

Water is the substance of life. So it’s only natural why we feel so fascinated by it. We could spend a whole day watching a waterfall, the waves of the ocean, or a river making its way through the mountains. Caught in its spell, we close our eyes and dream of a waterfront vacation home away from civilization. Let’s go one step further, shall we? How about making a waterfront property your permanent residence? We invite you to tag along and discover the best place to buy waterfront property closest to you in the United States! The best waterfront homes aren’t limited to beachfront assets, however. For instance, you can find them next to the best mountain lake towns. They won’t go unnoticed in this article!

Suppose you need help finding the best lake towns to raise a family. Or locate the most affordable beachfront property. In that case, search for real estate agents near your destination area! They will enlighten you about the particularities of waterfront properties. Plus, agents will draw your attention to how water increases property value, making it a lifetime investment! 

Summary:

Read this before buying a waterfront property!

yacht in front of waterfront proerties

Whenever water reaches a building or a property boundary, something might smell “fishy.” At first, buying waterfront property seems like an easy ride and financially lucrative investment. For instance, first-time home buyers might be very excited about their new home. However, they soon discover it’s entirely different from what they originally had in mind. In an unfortunate turn of events, some will become “motivated” sellers trying to resell their property beyond their management ability. 

High maintenance fees and taxes can also explain this move. Undoubtedly, living on the coast has ups and downs. We know the landscape is gorgeous, and the lifestyle is high-end. Beach living became synonymous with leisure, health, and exuberance. Still, even the best waterfront homes come with baggage. The body of water can create unexpected issues. Secondly, the median listing price is sky-high. And thirdly, flood insurance will cost you a fortune. 

So, no matter how enticing investing in beachfront real estate may get, for instance, in the case of Santa Rosa Beach, you must take the idea with a pinch of salt! You’ll find a detailed explanation for all of these issues below!

Top locations to buy waterfront properties by the sea

waterfront properties view

Our advice for rookie real estate investors is to go where the big players are. Suppose a substantial development is underway in a seaside resort. In that case, it means someone has already studied the local market and concluded it is worth investing in. In other words, it’s a safe bet: you won’t risk too much money buying waterfront property in the top 10 coastal living resorts!

Ocean City, NJ

The website dedicated to this resort informs its visitors that Ocean City is the most family-friendly resort in the country. One week in mid-July costs as low as $1,500+ through Airbnb. Consider buying waterfront property in Ocean City due to its beautiful views, exceptional beach access, and high potential for rental income! However, you must anticipate the risk of flooding, pricey flood insurance, and similarly expensive upkeep costs. As of Q4 2023, the median listing price was approximately $975,000.

Cape Charles, VA

Cape Charles, Virginia, is famous for its picturesque beach town atmosphere and coastal charms. Must-do things include exploring the beautiful Cape Charles Beach, visiting the Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center, and enjoying delicious seafood at local restaurants. As of late 2023, the median listing price in Cape Charles was $510,000.

Vero Beach, FL

Vero Beach, Florida, is a chill spot best known for its stunning beaches. It’s also often called the Treasure Coast because Spanish ships sank off the coast in the 1700s, leaving countless silver and golden coins in the ocean. Perhaps only the best beaches near Fort Myers, FL, can be compared to Vero Beach’s irresistible allure. Tons of must-do things await you and your family in Vero Beach! Right off the bat, the Indian River Lagoon calls for kayaking fans and is ideal for spotting dolphins. And remember the beachside parks where picnics and volleyball are the go-to moves.

If nature’s your thing, visit the wonderful McKee Botanical Garden, with tropical plants galore. So far, Vero Beach features the most affordable beachfront property with a median listing price of $342,000! Contact real estate agents in Vero Beach Florida, to find your next investment opportunity! 

Boca Raton, FL

boca raton florida waterfront properties view

Boca Raton is a waterfront property paradise, with assets like single-family homes on the intercostal and canals leading to the Intracoastal Waterway. Similarly, you’ll find exquisite condos on the Atlantic Ocean coastline and exclusive mansions with private docks and yachts. 

Suppose you are searching for the best waterfront homes in Boca Raton. In that case, you’ll be happy to hear that the median listing price was only $631,000 in late December 2023. The most extraordinary spa resorts don’t come any cheaper than this! Also, for assistance in finding the best properties, reach out to one of the top real estate agents in Boca Raton FL listed on our directory. Are you up to exploring Boca Raton’s two most renowned gated communities?

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is a yachting community with custom luxury homes in Boca Raton’s heart. This gated waterfront community on the Intracoastal Waterway ranked among the top ten in Forbes’ most exclusive US neighborhoods of 2021. Did you know that exclusive estates with deep-water docking stations populate the Sanctuary? Additionally, the gated neighborhood is within walking distance of the beach and minutes away from world-class shopping and dining areas from Mizner Park. 

Prices for property in this area range from $1 million to $20 million. Why does The Sanctuary deserve a top spot on our “best place to buy waterfront property” list? One thing is sure. The best waterfront homes here won’t depreciate over time!

Le Lac

Le Lac is an exclusive enclave with luxury waterfront homes considered one of the best-gated communities in Boca Raton. Locals can enjoy a most pleasing lifestyle due to the community’s natural surroundings and interconnected lakes seamlessly blending into the environment. Properties here have easy access to the lake and beautiful waterfront landscape views. These also feature tennis courts and playgrounds. Some even have private sandy beaches. Prices in this area for properties could be anywhere between $3 million and $7 million. 

Traverse City, MI

Have you ever wanted to have a photo shoot among cherry blossoms? Then “The Cherry Capital of the World” welcomes you with open arms! Traverse City residents host a big Cherry Festival every summer to celebrate their eternal love for cherries. Moreover, the city boasts acre-upon-rolling acres of lush vineyards. In other words, this community also excels as the ideal wine-tasting destination. Traverse City is one of those lovely towns you must visit once in a lifetime!

Although it borders Lake Michigan, you will still feel like you’re in a seaside resort with much calmer waters. Nevertheless, we vouch for Traverse City as one of the best lake towns to raise a family. The median listing price in Downtown Traverse City was around $330,000 in 2023.

Bluffton, SC

Huffington Post named this incredibly charming town #1 for displaying one of the most amazing non-beach getaways nationwide. Bluffton is a quiet coastal city with an estimated population of 40,000 in 2024. This delightful mid-sized city is known for its Southern charm, beautiful antebellum homes, and historical sites. The panoramic May River alone makes Bluffton one of the best lake towns to raise a family. 

If you decide to relocate here, you must know that most real estate agents in Bluffton SC, will also cover Beaufort and Hilton Head. They’ll inform you that the median listing price in Bluffton, South Carolina, was about $535,000 in 2023. Purchasing a home here is a safe investment!

Cambria, CA

Cambria sits amidst native Monterey pines. Since California Highway 1 reopened, the city expects more visitors, new homebuyers, and highly motivated real estate investors. Hearst Castle already attracts more than 600,000 visitors annually and is only 10.5 miles North of Cambria. The gorgeous Moonstone Beach, the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, and the historic Guthrie-Bianchini House are some of Cambria’s tourist attractions not to be missed! Thus, Cambria unarguably qualifies as one of California’s best places.

As you can expect, homeownership in Cambria comes at a premium price. In late 2023, the median listing price in Cambria, California, was approximately $1.3 million.

Anna Maria, FL

beautiful day anna maria view

First, you must know that Anna Maria is a small island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Tourists flock to Anna Maria in peak season thanks to a unique combination of perks, such as soaking up the sun, swimming, fishing, and tasting excellent seafood. This is only one reason Anna Maria can be your best place to buy waterfront property! 

With a year-round population of just about 1,050 (2024), most homeowners here are part-time residents, which explains why there are so many properties for rent on Airbnb. The median listing price was $2,340,000 as of December 2023, which is expensive for some house hunters. If you’re looking for world-class white-sand beaches, friendly people, and a laid-back lifestyle, don’t hesitate to contact our real estate agents in Anna Maria FL

Hampton and Hampton Beach, NH

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, is a tiny village (population of 2,650 in 2024) and a census-designated place on the East Coast. Beware, though, because this fantastic beach resort is nestled in Hampton (population 10,050), so don’t interchange them! Arguably, the Hampton Beach State Park and the September Seafood Festival are the natural highlights in town, drawing countless visitors nationwide. Buying waterfront property in Hampton Beach can be enticing as the median listing price is only $390,000 in Q1 2024!

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, Oregon, is a small but charming community of approximately 1.510 people on the West Coast. Its tiny population didn’t stop Cannon Beach from earning a top spot on The World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places by National Geographic. 

Adventurous travelers and homebuyers choose Cannon Beach for its picturesque shoreline. Watching puffins, tide-pooling, and the Indian Beach “hopping” are the trendiest pastime activities you won’t find anywhere else! As a matter of fact, Haystack Rock (a 235 ft-tall sea stack in Cannon Beach) is one of Oregon’s most recognizable landmarks. 

Nevertheless, waterfront property prices aren’t for anyone’s budget. The median listing price of Cannon Beach, OR, beachfront real estate was $945,000 in 2023.

Bellport, NY

Are you dreaming about buying waterfront property in a delightful community boasting a charming historic vibe, small-town feel, and beautiful views? Bellport in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, can deliver this and much more! Some of the best waterfront homes were built in the Greek Revival style over two centuries ago. 

Ho-hum Beach and Mother’s Beach are two beloved places where families sunbathe on a hot summer day. Bellport excels in excellent water activities, professional golf courses, and the vivid arts scene. However, the Bellport housing market is expensive. The median listing price was $2,600,000 last year. We suggest visiting Bellport because it is one of New York’s most unique places.

Saint Petersburg, FL

st petersburg skyline view

How about buying waterfront property in the city that holds the title for “most consecutive days with sunshine” at 768 days? Saint Petersburg, FL, the second-largest city in the Tampa Bay area, is located on the beautiful Pinellas Peninsula close to the Gulf of Mexico. This fantastic city has an artistic feel to the landscape and attractions, making it a favorable place for art enthusiasts.

The good weather and low living costs make St Petersburg a preferred destination for retirees. However, “The Sunshine City” has recently brought many young people to the city. With some of the best beaches around, St Petersburg, FL, still manages to preserve its small-town feel despite its population of about 266,000 people.

With this captivating scenery, who wouldn’t want to have a chance at becoming a homeowner for some of the beautiful waterfront properties that line up the coastline of St Petersburg, FL? The median listing price for St Petersburg is around $400,000. As a result, the housing market is more accessible than you may think. With the help of real estate agents in St Petersburg FL you can quickly join the prosperous housing market as a home buyer.

Other remarkable waterfront resorts worth exploring are St. Marys (GA), Astoria (OR), Hilo (HI), Old Orchard Beach (ME), Beaufort (NC), Oxnard (CA), Pensacola (FL), Galveston (TX).

Best locations to buy waterfront properties near a lake

Minnesota boasts 10,000 lakes on its license plates, but did you know Alaska has more than 3 million lakes? Lake Superior is the biggest lake in the US by surface, but it is shared with Canada. Therefore, the biggest lake on US soil is Lake Michigan, with a surface of 22,300 square miles. The Great Salt Lake in Utah occupies the second place, while the third place belongs to Lake Iliamna from Alaska. The most extensive natural landforms tend to attract the highest number of residents and tourists each year. We recommend purchasing the best waterfront homes next to these lakes based on this principle. Your investment is safer if people flock to a particular town or region.

Suppose you have a penchant for geography. You probably know where most lakes are concentrated and have heard of Lake County in Illinois. This is a terrific place to buy a property among the affluent residents of Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lake Barrington, and Highland Park. 

The Sunshine State also hosts 30,000 lakes. Here, you’ll find the best cities to become a boating family. On the other hand, the area also hosts the best lake towns to raise a family, such as Windermere and Bradenton. Buying waterfront property here will gain you access to some of the best schools in Florida. Here are a few lakes you might be interested in!

Lake Tahoe

lake tahoe view

Incline Village, Nevada, is a top choice for investors who seek luxury at its best. The median listing price was around $1,750,000 in late December 2023. Additionally, it’s a magnet for some of the wealthiest people in the world. Other towns around the lake where you’d love to own property are Kings Beach, Northstar, Tahoe City, Kirkwood, and Heavenly Village – all great destinations for skiing or shopping. In short, Lake Tahoe’s area boasts some of the best mountain lake towns in the United States.

Lake Champlain

The towns on the Adirondack Coast have a rich history, and most trendy architectural styles are well-represented in this area. You can get to Lake Champlain effortlessly by car, train, ferry, or bus. Once you wander around Vermont, you may fall in love with one of the ten towns that form this community: Essex, Keeseville, Lewis, Westport, Moriah, Port Henry, Willsboro, Elizabethtown, Crown Point, and Ticonderoga. 

Lake Champlain’s real estate market hosts impressive lake homes in Vermont. Homes on Lake Champlain range from the more affordable ($100,000) to costlier assets (over $4 million). Thus, Lake Champlain’s market value exceeds $100 million in total.

Lake Coeur D’Alene

National Geographic named Lake Coeur D’Alene one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is a more than 100-foot-deep natural lake refreshed by two rivers. This lake is a magnet for businesses in North Idaho. The main towns are Post Falls, the City of Hayden, Sandpoint, Athol, Hauser, Worley, and Rathdrum. The local housing market is booming, with property prices ranging from $400,000 to $28 million in Q1 2024.

Lake Chelan

lake chelan view

Seeing Lake Chelan will be love at first sight! It’s one of the deepest lakes in the nation, and its body of water stretches over 50 miles! Lake Chelan is nestled in the North Cascades of Washington, offering surroundings of rare beauty. A colorful variety of water activities make it a popular destination for tourists and homebuyers. 

If you wish to purchase a waterfront property, our best bet would be to browse through The Village at Lake Chelan, where the median listing price was approximately $710,000 in Q4 2023. We advise checking the towns of Chelan, Mason, and Stehekin if you appreciate close-knit communities and tranquil vibes

Lake Tohopekaliga

Lake Tohopekaliga, often called Lake Toho, is famous for bass fishing. This beautiful lake is in central Florida! If you want to move here, we recommend checking out Kissimmee and St. Cloud, two exceptional towns featuring old Florida vibes. Kissimmee, a hidden gem in Florida, is the best place to buy waterfront property because the median listing price was only $343,000 in December 2023.

Flathead Lake

Are you looking to move to one of the best mountain lake towns in the States? We have found three exceptional communities located next to the gorgeous Flathead Lake! The body of water is known for being one of the largest American natural freshwater lakes. Fishing for trout and pike are everyday activities. Mesmerizing mountains surround Flathead Lake, and the end result is picture-perfect! Find Polson, MT; Kalispell, MT; and Bigfork, MT, in its immediate vicinity! The median listing price of homes in the area is about $540,000.

Deep Creek Lake

You will never get bored around Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland. It is a swimmable artificial reservoir with 65 miles of shoreline. Be ready to encounter rich wildlife, including rare aquatic birds and freshwater fish! Before investing in real estate, you should explore the towns of McHenry, Deer Park, Swanton, and Sang Run! The median listing price in the neighborhood is approximately $385,000. 

Tips and tricks to consider before committing yourself to buying a waterfront property

words tips and tricks

If you want to avoid falling into a money pit, here are a few tips to remember when looking for waterfront property.

Scrutinize the property!

Check whether the water table and body of water are high! They may flood the basement and cause dampness inside. Secondly, walk around the property and examine the bulkheads. The history of the shoreline could also be valuable. Why must you perform these checkups? 

You might discover the rising water level too late (as in the infamous Florida flooding). As a result, your property may shrink by a few square feet each year. On the other hand, as it withdraws, the water can leave an unaesthetic beach or mud that’s hard to cross.

Look for hidden costs!

Waterfront properties usually have higher insurance premiums, sewer costs, and docking fees. Also, even though the house looks perfect outside, the HVAC system might have to be replaced, costing anywhere between $3,500 and $7,500. 

Do you need more details? Water can lead to wear and tear in a house. You might spend more on repairs and maintenance. Also, waterfront properties can have higher property taxes. Things like docks and seawalls are costly. Building and maintaining them adds up. And, there’s erosion. Over time, water can eat away at your land. Stopping this can cost you a pretty penny. Consider the impact of regulations. Waterfront homes often face strict building rules. This can affect remodeling plans and can increase your overall costs.

Ask about who owns the shoreline!

shoreline park santa barbare

In the US, shoreline ownership can be as clear as mud. Sometimes, the stretch of land by the water is public property, meaning everyone can use it. Other times, it’s in private hands, or there are specific rules you’ve got to play by. Knowing who has the deed to the shore can save you from major headaches.

Ask about the shoreline’s owner! It could make or break your waterfront experience. Plus, it keeps your future chill sessions by the lake, river, or ocean as stress-free as possible. 

Make a plan for your property!

Will the waterfront house be your forever home or a vacation rental? You can winterize your property to keep utility costs at bay. Remember that you can only build up to a specific height limit. Your neighbors want to retain their incredible view. Suppose you plan to build or expand the structure. Then, make sure you’re doing it legally and up to code!

Choose the water that’s best for you!

Did you know that salty water has genuine healing powers? Due to its high magnesium levels, it can revitalize nerve functionality and muscles. It can also lower your blood sugar level to normal, regulate sleep, and rejuvenate your skin. Plus, inhaling the salty breeze will improve your breathing. However, there’s also a financial perk to them, as beachfront condos make for excellent investment properties

In addition to our previous recommendations, we suggest checking out Malibu, CA (showcasing stunning views of the Pacific); Miami Beach, FL; Maui, Hawaii (tropical paradises can’t get better than this); Naples, FL; etc.

Are you into extreme sports? Then, a property close to a fast-flowing river will provide easy access to whitewater adventures. They’re also perfectly “calibrated” for fishing, boating, and unwinding in a gorgeous environment. Many voted for Asheville, NC; Savannah, GA; Missoula, MT; and Hudson Valley, NY, as the best lake towns to raise a family.

Look into HOA fees, rules, and regulations!

person reading hoa rules regulation

Most lakefront property owners are part of a homeowners association. Ask what the HOA fee covers and the rules you should obey. Did you know that HOA fees differ around the States? Even the appeal of the best place to buy waterfront property can be weighed down by unexpected rules and taxes. 

For instance, the HOA might have specific fertilizers, pest control, and landscaping rules to minimize environmental impact. Associations for waterfront communities often have to manage the use of docks, boat slips, and access to the water. Thirdly, homeowners associations can establish guidelines for maintaining shorelines and structures like seawalls or ripraps to lessen erosion and flooding risks. HOAs may stipulate different regulations for flood insurance. 

However, the HOA’s power doesn’t conclude here! The association can also have a say in property boundaries, aesthetic standards, community amenities, and lease restrictions connected to your property.

Discover which loan type you are eligible for!

Find out the types of loans you might qualify for. You may purchase a waterfront property with a USDA loan with zero down payment. Yet, your credit score should be at least 640 (or 620 for some lenders). Moreover, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) must be lower than 50 percent. Do you need more ideas?

  • The government does not provide guarantees for conventional loans. Yet, it follows guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would be best to have a credit score of at least 620 and a 3-20 percent down payment.
  • The Federal Housing Administration insures FHA loans, one of the most popular government loans. They enable lower credit scores and down payments as low as 3.5 percent. This could be a good option if you believe your credit could be better.
  • Suppose the loan amount surpasses the conforming limits. Then, you’ll need a jumbo loan. These typically require a larger down payment and a higher credit score.
  • Suppose you’re planning to stay in a waterfront home briefly. In that case, an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM) might be helpful. ARMs deliver lower rates initially but then adjust based on market conditions.

Factors determining the price of waterfront properties

living room water front property

Have you ever wondered why that beachfront bungalow or riverside retreat costs so much? Sure, they boast universal appeal. You can’t put a price tag on the calming sound of the waves or the promise of picturesque sunsets. Or can you? Many things come together to determine those hefty prices on waterfront properties. Here’s the lowdown on what cranks up the numbers:

  1. Location, location, location. 

Suppose a house is nestled on an exceptional shoreline, with amenities and a vivid social scene a stone’s throw away. In that case, you can bet it’ll cost more. Proximity to the city or tourist hotspots also plays a big part. It certainly helps if you look into storm-ready towns first, such as Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.

  1. Limited edition. 

If you think about it, you’ll realize “they’re” not making any more coastlines or lakefronts. The limited supply and high demand for these natural beauties are a genuine rarity. Everyone wants them, but there’s not enough to go around, ultimately driving up the price.

  1. The lifestyle. 

Living by the water isn’t just about the house. Instead, it’s the fancy lifestyle that comes with it. You can access water sports or fishing in the blink of an eye. The prestige of a waterfront address contributes to a higher price tag.

  1. Nature’s mood swings. 

Waterfront properties suffer the most when Mother Nature throws a tantrum. Properties with a track record of staying high and dry during storms or with top-notch protection against the elements can command higher prices. And natural elements will establish a hefty insurance policy.

Are waterfront properties a good investment in the US?

Can you picture yourself in this scenario? You’re sipping coffee on your porch as you gaze out over a serene lake, river, or endless ocean. That picture-perfect scene is one reason well-off house hunters feel like kids in a candy store when they get a chance at waterfront property. These assets are often seen as a safe bet. Why? 

Because they’re like the unicorns of the housing market, rare and in demand. It’s simple economics. Limited supply means these homes can hold value or even appreciate over time if you’re lucky. And the median listing price rarely plummets.

Suppose you intend to live elsewhere. Vacationers will still pay a fortune to live their dream for a week or two. If you dive into the rental market, a waterfront property can be a cash cow. With good property management and a professional listing, you’ll have a steady stream of tenants making waves all year round.

The dark side of waterfront properties

surrounder by hurricane waterfront view

But only jump in with testing the water first! Waterfront homes can be more high-maintenance than your average fixer-upper. You must factor in what salty air can do to a house or the possibility of flooding. Flood insurance can break the bank. Plus, there might be extra bills for dock maintenance or sea wall repairs. Make sure your budget can survive under the harshest financial pressure! Thus, properties that promise less hassle can often be pricier.

What’s more, Mother Nature can be a volatile and erratic friend. While coastal views can be worth every penny, they can also mean rolling the dice with things like hurricanes. Before you know it, your investment could literally be underwater.

Which are the best flood insurance policies in the US?

If you’re not an insider, flood insurance for waterfront homes may seem like a highway robbery. Things aren’t that bleak, though! The government runs the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has good coverage and is widely available. Secondly, private insurers offer competitive rates and additional coverage options not found in NFIP. Lastly, surplus line insurers can provide tailored coverage suitable for high-risk properties.

Conclusion

Those dreamy waterfront properties come with unique selling points and challenges. A mix of limited supply, killer views, lifestyle perks, and Mother Nature’s quirks stir the pot in setting the price. So, next time you’re cruising by a lakeside mansion and the price tag makes your eyes pop, you’ll know precisely why those numbers are sky-high.

When discussing waterfront properties, we tend to limit our imagination to seaside resorts, neglecting other landforms. Leaving prejudices behind, lakeside properties and houses abutting rivers are also great investments. At the same time, the best mountain lake towns offer a standalone blend of tranquility, beauty, and endless adrenaline-fuelled water activities. You can use the best waterfront homes as forever residences or summer houses. Furthermore, they make for profitable Airbnb or long-term rental units.

The best way to approach this type of property is by contacting an experienced agent, preferably one specializing in waterfront real estate. The authors of this piece believe that hiring a real estate agent will benefit everyone, buyers, and sellers, taking into account the complex nature of waterfront homes.

Now, let us know if you found our picks interesting. Where is the best place to buy waterfront property in America? Please share your opinion in the comment section!

print

One Response to " What Are the Best Places to Buy Waterfront Property in the U.S.? "

  1. Alice Carroll says:

    You made a good point that having actual plans for the property will help a lot when browsing waterfront homes for sale. I’m thinking about living near a lake later in life because I’ve always imagined myself in a place with a good view when I retire someday. Maybe I should start looking for that kind of home soon since I’m already in my mid-forties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!