Ready to dive into owning a lake home in Minnesota or western Wisconsin? As the local lakeshore experts, let us walk you through the elements you should prioritize — and what should come second as you make your decision.
Do select a specific distance
It's easy to say, "Any lake home will do!" but in reality, you should 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.
Don't forget to account for traffic
Pay attention to the commute during high-traffic times like Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Those "Up North" two-lane highways can be a breeze — or a nightmare — and you should be prepared for every summer weekend to be a worst-case scenario.
Do hire an agent who specializes in lakeshore homes
Lakeshore agents 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 the right agent
Do talk with your agent to determine if you can afford lakeside vs. lake access
If you plan to spend more time on your hammock than your pontoon, consider a home with lake access rather than a home right on the water.
For example, the median home price of Brainerd homes with water access was $154,950 in May, while Brainerd homes on the water had a median sales price of $247,0001.
Most lakes have access via community docks, beaches and boat drops. But if you can't give up a nightly boat cruise, you should probably stick to lakeside residence. Your agent can help you determine the cost/benefit analysis of this tricky choice.
Don't buy the boat before the lake house
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. If you have a boat size in mind, mention that to your lakeshore agent, who can help customize your search to lakes that match your needs.
Do come in ready to make an offer
Vacation home sales are up nearly 30% over last year, but inventory isn't keeping up with demand. Work with your lakeshore agent to determine your budget, and enter the market ready to act fast if you find the Minnesota or western Wisconsin waterfront home that's right for you.
1. Source: Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. Stats for homes in the city of Brainerd, MN. May 2014 compared over June 2013.