Posted in: Buying a home, Lakeshore

The Do's and Don’ts of buying a lakeshore home

Do's and Donts of lake home buying

Key insights

  • Research is key, and lake home or lake cabin buyers should keep in mind that setting parameters early in the process will help them find the right property.
  • Private lake homes can be expensive, so buyers on a budget may consider a home with lake access to save money while getting a larger property in cabin country.
  • Keep your lakeside hobby in mind as you search. The right lake for a water skier could vary from the perfect fishing or canoeing lake.

Ready to dive into owning a lake home in Minnesota or western Wisconsin? As the local lakeshore experts, we can advise you on the elements you’ll want to research and prioritize as you buy a waterfront property.

buying a lakeshore home infographic

Traffic and distance

Do consider distance. It's easy to say, "Any lake home will do!" but it's smart to create parameters for where you'd like to end up. Consider how far you'd like to be from your primary residence; two to three hours is ideal if it will be a weekend abode. Set up saved searches on so you can track new properties as they become available.

Don’t forget about traffic. As you begin searching in your chosen area, do a test run of the commute on a Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Those "up north" two-lane highways can jam up quickly, so it's important to prepare yourself for typical traffic you'll experience as you head to your weekend oasis.

Access to the water

Do think about the type of lake home you’d prefer. Many lake home buyers are committed to purchasing a private waterfront home with a dock and a private boat slip. If you can't live without a nightly boat cruise, a home on the water is the right choice.

Don’t count out lake access homes. If you prefer relaxation and quiet over the steady hum of boats on nearby water, you may want to consider a property with close access to a beach or public boat slip. Most lakes have access via community docks, beaches and boat drops so you can get on the water when the time is right. The other upside to lake access homes? They are usually less expensive than homes located directly on the water, and they typically have lower taxes.

Deciding on a boat

Do research the boat you want. If you live to waterski, fish or canoe, you're likely itching to purchase the boat of your dreams. It's a great idea to begin researching the type of boat you'll want — in fact, it may help you steer your decision toward a specific lake or region.

Don’t buy it yet. However, lakes have different boat and motor size limitations, so it's critical that you don't buy a vessel that ends up restricting your lake options too much. If you have a boat size in mind, mention that to your REALTOR®, who can help customize your search to lakes that match your needs.

Hiring a Realtor

Do hire a lake home expert. Agents who specialize in lake homes and lake cabins offer an incredible wealth of local knowledge, especially in our neck of the woods. They understand everything from lake depth to winter road clearing to the building permits that some Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes have in place to limit development.

Don’t worry about how to find an agent. Stressed about finding the right agent? Don't be! Once you determine your search area, check out our list of Edina Realty offices specializing in lakeshore or contact our customer care team to be linked up with a lakeshore agent in your desired area.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings