Buying waterfront property. Know the risks!

Buying waterfront property. Know the risks!

What kind of waterfront did you have in mind?
The type of waterfront to buy is the first decision you’ll have to make; enjoying a vacation once a year at the beach doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy dealing with wind and beach sand on your patio every day. Not all lakes, rivers are created the same, some are conducive to recreational activities, others are not. Know why you are buying waterfront; more importantly what kind of lifestyle are you hoping to achieve.

- Research the area, the municipality and the neighbours on google.

Although there can be a lot of benefits associated with owning waterfront property, you should also be aware of the risks. One of the unique risks of buying close to water is that the shoreline can change dramatically due to soil erosion, rising water levels, climate change. Focus of the property itself and surrounding area, not just the house. Get information on the flood zones from the city, speak to neighbours about recent events.

- Flooding and Flood Insurance.

Living on waterfront, especially beachfront increases the very real danger that you will face some flooding and storm damage problems during your lifetime. Be sure to get Flooding insurance costs for the property as you’ll likely have to pay significantly more for it, it may be cost prohibitive or just unavailable.

- Water damage and inspection.

Water can creep under the foundation of a home, causing structural damage over time, have an expert review the foundation.

- Water included or not? 

The rights of landholders where property has a water bank, are not always clear. The title may reveal what rights (riparian rights) are included. Check the riparian rights before you purchase.

- To Dock or not?

If there is an existing dock, be sure that it has an existing permit. If you are thinking of putting in a dock; there are many regulations in terms of size and other environmental considerations. Start with the zoning bylaws and the city. Have a thorough understanding of approval process and the costs involved before you buy as they can be substantial. In some cases, you may only be able to upkeep an existing structure instead of building a new one.

- Zoning.

Check municipal zoning, there are often regulations that limit size of new builds, docks and strict environmental bylaws for properties on water bodies. In many cases the crown retains the right to build on the shore, called the shore road allowance. Waterfront with a closed shoreline won’t be at risk for development.

- Potentially higher taxes.

Property assessors are frequently raising their assessments on waterfront property, which can substantially increase taxes to the point that many sell their houses after receiving new assessments.

- Maintenance costs.

Waterfront properties require more maintenance than standard homes, to limit the damage caused by salt water and salty sea air, including extra protection for the windows, with hard work and money both needed to keep them fresh and safe. This can be a considerable issue for many people, especially if they've moved into a waterfront home after retirement to enjoy a slow and relaxed pace of life. At the very least, you will need to spend additional time and money drying and storing your property, sealing your decks and outdoor furniture, cleaning your windows, and dealing with issues like corrosion and mould. Consider your maintenance and groundwork load and speak to your neighbours about costs and the effects of annual weather or salt water. They’ll have a good sense of the impact of the spray over time.
Still have questions? Get the advice you need!
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