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Posted in: Lakeshore, Buying a home

Your starter lake home: How to save money on your first waterfront property

How to save money on your first waterfront property

Key insights:

  • When looking for a lake home, consider whether or not you need to be on the water. A lake access home could be a viable — and cheaper — option for your family.
  • Think “cabin” instead of “lake home.” By broadening your own criteria, you may find more options (and more affordable options, too).
  • Purchasing a property on a budget might force you to get creative, especially when it comes to hosting guests. A bunkhouse or closet full of air mattresses might become part of your lake home checklist.

When living in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, escaping to a lake home is the epitome of summertime fun. And while plenty of retirees are cabin-bound on the weekends, not everyone wants to wait for retirement to enjoy days at the lake!

Luckily, affordable lake home properties do exist. These houses can be the perfect stepping stone to owning a larger lake home down the road. Here are some insights you can use when finding the perfect first lake home for you and your family.

Lakeshore vs. lake access

There’s no doubt that the sandy beach that comes with a lakeshore home is wonderful. But do you plan to spend time on the beach or on the water? If you enjoy fishing, canoeing, speed boating or jet skiing at your lake property, you might not use the beach that much (or at all). In this case, consider a home with lake access.

A lakeshore home is situated directly on the water, whereas for a lake access property, someone else will own property between yours and the water (but it still offers access to all of the recreation). Some lakes even offer public beaches that can suit your sand castle-building and sunbathing needs just fine.

For the right buyer, lake access homes can be quite practical — and they tend to be cheaper, too!

Note: When you’re searching for lake homes online, it can be confusing to know if you’re looking at lakeshore or lake access properties. Your agent can help ensure you set the right parameters and understand the scope of each property.

Have you considered a trailer?

When you hear the word “trailer,” it might come with a bad rap or images of rundown properties. But trailers are just as varied as more traditional properties and they can be a terrific option for first-time lakeshore homebuyers. There are retro chic trailers, newer models with all the bells and whistles and everything in between.

Think about it this way: A trailer is just a tiny home with a facelift. And the rise of the tiny house trend is undeniable — HGTV talks about them nonstop and there are plenty of Pinterest boards to attest to their popularity and appeal.

By changing your viewpoint, you may just open a new door to plenty of low-cost and even lower maintenance lake homes (Pssst: This might also offer a temporary solution until you decide to build something more permanent). Want family to be able to visit? The lot may have space for tents and campers--consider the lot size and flexibility.

about a cabin?

Maybe we’re just splitting hairs here, but it can be helpful to re-frame any preconceived ideas you may have when it comes to “lake home” versus “cabin.” By keeping an open mind to cabin-style lakefront options, you may find a benefit to a smaller footprint and lower cost.

Some cabins have more dedicated purposes, such as a hunting retreat, overnight fishing house or summer-only getaway. But even the smallest cottage can be made into the perfect retreat or updated into a cute, year-round lake property over time, if that’s what you’re looking for.

When searching for a property on the lake, be sure to consider the potential of rustic-style cabins. By leaning into the knotty pine walls and cozy quarters, you can design an on-budget, unforgettable space filled with warm memories.

How to accommodate house guests at your lake property

Oftentimes, lake home buyers want to be able to host their large families, but they quickly realize that multi-bedroom lake houses are out of their budget. In that case, remind yourself that what’s really important is that you’re all together — and it’s okay to get creative with guest accommodations.

When looking at potential lake properties, prioritize homes that have enough bedrooms or sleeping space for your immediate family. Then, consider alternative sleeping options for visiting friends and additional family members.

Maybe your kids can pitch a tent for a fun night camping under the stars or you can ask folks to drive their RVs up to park on your lake property. In addition, make sure every sofa folds out into a bed, and keep air mattresses and extra sheet sets stored in your closets. You could even consider building a bunkhouse!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to hosting guests. Plus, the truth is that your family and friends just want to spend time together; it’s unlikely that they are expecting (or demanding) five-star sleeping accommodations.

Jump into your waterfront home

Affordable lake properties are out there! If you’re ready to begin your search for the perfect lake house, reach out to Edina Realty or one of our agents. We’re here to help you make those weekend getaways at the lake home and bonfire-filled cabin nights come true.

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