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Posted in: Lakeshore homes, Buying a home

Five tips for finding your first perfect lake property

buying a lake home tips

Whether you grew up with a lakefront cabin or home in your family, or have spent weekends and holidays at resorts or friends’ homes “Up North,” it’s a common dream to wish for a lake house of your own. If you’re ready to start making fantastic memories like early morning fishing trips, sandcastle building and sunset happy hours, follow this easy guide for #BuyerInsights into lakeside living in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

1. Choose the right lake for your needs

Start by asking yourself why you are buying a waterfront house. The possibilities for waterfront fun are endless, says Jim Eisler, the sales manager for the Edina Realty Brainerd, Garrison, Crosslake and Hackensack offices. “How do you intend to use the lake on an ideal weekend? Are you looking for water activities and a lake conducive to water skiing and wakeboarding? Do you envision long pontoon rides, and the call of the loons? Do you fish for walleye, northern or the elusive muskie? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask and answer before you start your search.”

Keep in mind what is static and what can be modified when it comes to lakes and lakefront properties. “Elevation and lakeshore quality have been created by nature and cannot usually be changed or modified, but the waterfront structures generally can be—subject to zoning ordinances,” says Eisler.

2. Consider locations

Once you’ve figured out the kind of lake property you want, it’s time to consider the best location for your new adventure. Think of your starting point—either your primary residence, or your work. If you live and work in the eastern suburbs, for example, you may be interested in looking at lake homes in western Wisconsin. Burnett County is full of great properties, including in the popular cities of Siren and Spooner. Closer to the border, you may find you love St. Croix Valley riverfront homes.

If you work in downtown Minneapolis, consider exploring the Brainerd and Baxter areas, which are just two short hours away. Alexandria, another popular area for lake cabins and homes, is also only two hours northwest of the metro area.

Of course, when you have a fabulous lake home to retreat to on the weekends and holidays, any area can be the one you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you’ve settled on your desired lake home and its location or need a little help finding the right spot, get partnered with a lakeshore expert from one of Edina Realty’s 60 offices across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We’ll ask the right questions so you can enjoy your new property for years to come. After all, we live here. We’re lake experts.

3. Think local

If you’re thinking of buying a waterfront home, we’d be remiss not to remind you that there are plenty of great bodies of water right where you live! Don’t forget to consider changing up your primary residence to be on a lake year-round.

4. Know the rules

As one of our most precious natural resources, it’s important that lake property owners take great care of the lake or river where they live. In many cases, there are building ordinances that protect the water, and also protect homeowners from building too close to the shore. If you’re planning to build on an empty lot, or to tear down an existing home and rebuild, your local Edina Realty agent will be able to walk you through the exact guidelines of each lake in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and put you in touch with developers who specialize in waterfront building.

Plus, to learn about how the lake is being protected for the future, see if the lake in question has an association that oversees the area. Many associations can give you the history of the lake and tell you how governing bodies like the county and DNR monitor the lake for clarity, fish and safety.

5. Financing a lakefront home

Oh yes, there’s still that little question of money. Whether you’re buying a waterfront primary home or a weekend lake cabin, you should connect with a mortgage loan officer early in the process.

If you’re buying this lake home as a second property, you’ll work together to determine if you are able to (and want to) use the equity from your primary residence to help pay for the down payment or closing costs of the new lake home. Your mortgage loan officer will work together with you to find the best loan option as you buy your lakefront property.

Another option might be to secure financing directly from the seller. This is called a contract for deed or land contract. Your REALTOR® or attorney can guide you on the pros and cons of this method of financing.

One last note: if you plan to rent out this property, we can check with your mortgage loan officer on how it could impact your loan.

Getting started

With our early spring and the success of our local economy, lake property sales are on the rise! If you’re hoping to enjoy a waterfront property this summer, get started now so you have plenty of time for backyard barbecues, boat cruises and bonfires.

Reach out today to get started on the process of buying a lake home, or start searching waterfront properties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin today. If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, follow #BuyerInsights for more great tips.

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Status Definitions

For Sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

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