84 Questions to Ask When Buying a Waterfront Property

Ah, the stuff dreams are made of – a beautiful waterfront property where you can relax and enjoy the good life. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a piece of prime real estate on a lake, river, or ocean, you’re not alone. Waterfront properties are highly desirable.

But before you start imagining campfires and s’mores, there are a few things you should consider. Making such a large purchase is a big decision with a lot that goes into it. Here are some questions to ask yourself (and your realtor) before you sign on the dotted line.

72 Questions you should ask a realtor when buying waterfront property:

  1. What’s the history of the property?
  2. How long has it been on the market?
  3. What are the current owner’s motivations for selling?
  4. What’s the average water temperature?
  5. Does the water level fluctuate? If so, by how much?
  6. Is the shoreline natural or man-made?
  7. What types of fish can I expect to see in the water?
  8. Are there any hidden costs associated with owning the property?
  9. How much are the property taxes?
  10. Is there a homeowners association?
  11. If so, what are the fees and restrictions?
  12. How long does the building permit process take, and what permits do I need?
  13. Can I build a dock? If so, are there any restrictions on size or location?
  14. Can I put in a boat lift? If so, are there any restrictions on size or location?
  15. Can I build a seawall? If so, are there any restrictions on size or location?
  16. How deep is the water at the shoreline?
  17. Is it deep enough for swimming or other water activities?
  18. Is there public access to the water from the property?
  19. If not, how easy would it be to get permission from my neighbors for an easement?
  20. What’s the quality of the water?
  21. Is it clean and safe for swimming, fishing, and other activities?
  22. Are there submerged rocks or other hazards in the water near the shore?
  23. Are there any restricted areas where I can’t swim or boat?
  24. How far is the nearest boat ramp or marina?
  25. What’s the nearest boat or fishing store if I need supplies or equipment?
  26. What kind of repairs or maintenance will my boat or other watercraft need while docked at my property?
  27. Have there been any flooding problems in the area?
  28. If so, how often do they occur and how severe are they?
  29. What’s the elevation of the land?
  30. What type of bottom does the water body have?
  31. Are there visible structures in or around the water body?
  32. How long does the shoreline remain frozen during the winter months?
  33. What is the development history of the area around the water body?
  34. Are building permits easy to obtain in this area?
  35. What are septic systems like in this area?
  36. What kind of cell phone service/Internet access is available in this area?
  37. How far away is medical help if an emergency occurs?
  38. Have there been any problems with erosion in this area?
  39. Are there easements or covenants associated with the waterfront property?
  40. Is this a good time to buy waterfront property in this market?
  41. Who else will have access to my waterfront property?
  42. What’s included in the sale price?
  43. What’s the zoning classification for the property?
  44. What is the shoreline stabilization situation?
  45. How is the property connected to utilities?
  46. What’s the condition of the building?
  47. Has a survey been done recently?
  48. What type of flood insurance is needed?
  49. Where’s the nearest fire station and how long will it take them to arrive in an emergency?
  50. Are there HOAs or HOAs fees associated with the property?
  51. Have there been any sinkholes or slope failures in the area?
  52. Are there wetlands on or near the property?
  53. What’s the water source?
  54. Are there restrictions on building docks or piers?
  55. What is the exposure to wind and waves?
  56. What’s the wake exposure from passing boats?
  57. How much of the shoreline is within the riparian zone setback requirements?
  58. Can the property be subdivided in the future if you want to sell part of it?
  59. Are there any easements granted for utility companies that could hinder future development plans?
  60. Is the property truly turnkey and all in order, or is additional renovation needed?
  61. What’s the crime rate in the area?
  62. What’s the quality of schools in the area?
  63. Is there public transportation nearby?
  64. What’s the natural environment like?
  65. Is the waterfront property accessible by car?
  66. How often do boats come by?
  67. Is it a busy waterway or a quiet one?
  68. What are the noise restrictions in the area?
  69. What’s the climate like in the area?
  70. What wildlife is there near the waterfront property?
  71. Have there been any problems with vandals or trespassers in the past?
  72. Who owns the land adjacent to the waterfront property and can anything be built there that will block my view?

12 Questions you should ask yourself before buying waterfront property:

  1. What’s my budget?
  2. What are my long-term goals for this property?
  3. What’s the current state of the market?
  4. Can I afford it?
  5. Do I need a real estate agent?
  6. What’s my ideal location?
  7. What size property do I need?
  8. What kind of water access do I want?
  9. What activities do I want to be able to do?
  10. What type of body of water do I want?
  11. What type of climate do I prefer?
  12. How difficult will it be to sell the property in the future if necessary?

Frequently Asked Questions

What does deeded waterfront property mean?

When most people think of waterfront property, they think of a house that sits right on the edge of a lake or river. And while it’s true that waterfront property usually comes with a view, that’s not always the case. In some cases, the term “waterfront” can also refer to a property located some distance from a body of water.

In most cases, when a property is referred to as deeded waterfront, it means that the owner has the exclusive right to use and enjoy the water adjacent to the property. This includes things like swimming, fishing, and boating. It’s important to note that in most cases, this type of property also comes with its own dock or pier. So if you’re looking for a place to dock your boat, a deeded waterfront property would be a great choice.

What are the negative things about living near the coast water?

Living near the coast also has its negative sides. For one, the area is often prone to flooding, especially during hurricane season. For another, the salt in the air can damage homes and cars. Finally, living near the coast can be quite expensive, as property values are typically higher in coastal areas.


Purchasing a waterfront property can be a fantastic investment – but it’s important to do your research beforehand. By asking these questions, you can be sure you know what you’re getting into before you make an offer. By preparing for your real estate transaction, you can approach one of the biggest decisions of your life with confidence and peace of mind!

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