Property Value Factor #3: Waterfront
What does “waterfront” mean in this context? This is a catch-all phrase. This issue is often third on folks’ lists but is sometimes first or second. Factors may include:
Length of Shoreline
Though many buyers dream of having a great deal of shoreline for privacy and recreation, I often find that most owners use only a small area anyway. A typical lot here at the lake has about 100 feet of shoreline. Note that if there is not a dock on the property, you will need to be sure that there is enough shoreline (and that the angles are right if you are in the back of a tight cove) to construct the dock you desire.
Water Depth. Most buyers want deep water off the end of their dock. This provides a great opportunity to launch your boat, the depth needed to jump from the top of the boathouse (my kids love this!), and the depth in the unlikely event of a large drop in the lake level. While deep water is nice, and it is common here, I have seen many homes with only a few feet of water that have worked out fine for the most part.
Note that it is often (but not always) the case that deep water and a gently sloping lot conflict with one another since the slope of the land often continues out into the lake. Also note that there are some advantages to having shallower water, especially for a swimming area for younger children. My ideal waterfront lot is shallow at the edge and then drops off where the dock will be.
This is not a big issue here in general, since the water is outstanding throughout most of the lake. There are a few places that have murky water from time to time, especially after winter and spring rains. Conversely, some places on the lake are known for having especially crystal clear water regardless of the weather or other factors. The former case, since it is the exception, has more effect on price than the latter.
Beaches are uncommon here, but owners and their children enjoy them. A thorough MLS search can often turn up properties with a beach if this is important to you.
Erosion Control at Shoreline
Most properties at the lake use rip-rap erosion control. These are rocks, fist-sized or larger, that are put above the water level and down into the water to hold back the shore and prevent erosion. This can be done attractively and can enhance the value of a waterfront lot. This should generally not be done on flat areas that do not experience much erosion.
The quality, style, size, and general appearance of a dock can certainly impact the value of the property. Though docks are important, they can usually be altered or replaced. I haven’t seen docks as a critical driver or deterrent in the price of a home or lot in most cases.