Waterfront properties are a very limited commodity and are therefore in high demand! If you are considering buying a waterfront home or have one to sell, working with an agent who understands the intricacies involved means your bottom line is secured. I have sold it all – from vacation cabins to luxurious homes, from recreation lots to land designed to build, throughout the Puget Sound. Below you find just a few of the waterfront issues and amenities that I am looking for. Whether you are a buyer or seller I am here to be your trusted advocate, that means I am looking for items, as an area of concern or to build value. Research the items below to determine which of these build value in the eyes of the buyer as these may be areas to focus my marketing efforts.
Docks are very valuable for both buyers and sellers. If you are buying and want to install a dock, there are many rules and regulations, research is a must, as a dock may or may not ultimately be allowed. That is why, as a seller, if you have a permitted and maintained dock, that can mean more listing dollars.
Is the subject property ownership go to the waterline or does it include the tidelands? Is there a survey of the tidelands? Can shellfish be harvested? Are the tidelands leased? If yes, then by whom, duration of lease, how is the lease structured, how and when will you receive funds, or the responsibilities are Leasor. Does a tribe or someone else have the right to harvest shellfish on the tidelands? What are the County, Department of Ecology, Department of Health, State and sometimes Federal rules and regulations regarding ownership of a waterfront property? What type of easements are on the property, and do they give permission for someone to come in and work on the property? How will rules and regulations affect me now or in the future. Are dogs allowed on the tidelands? Depending on the answers to these questions, as a seller, this might mean your waterfront is more valuable, or less. As a buyer, it pays to know the answers to these questions.
Living on the water has its own challenges and may require special permissions and have regulations regarding building. Wetlands, erosion, animal species, streams, trees can and will affect your building projects or require specific maintenance seasonally or even yearly. If there is a stream or spring that goes into the waterfront, additional setbacks may be required which can affect everything from a remodel to adding a deck or outbuilding. These can also affect value.
Keeping the waterways clean is a concern and therefore, septic systems are closely scrutinized. In some cases, triple-mount septic systems are required for new or replacement systems. Understanding where these are required is important for buyers and sellers. The county may require you to have the septic pumped and inspected every couple years. Depending on where you live this information may be kept on file with the Department of Health. Whether you’re buying or selling, keeping or receiving updated records is important. Buyers will want to see the records and see that the septic pumped and inspected before closing. When applicable Time of Transfer is necessary at closing.
Many waterfront homes in the Puget Sound are remote and require wells for a water supply. There are different types of wells from spring-fed to traditional. Making sure the property has a year-round supply of potable water needs to be verified by the buyer. The seller may need to supply records for bacterial and nitrate testing, if they have records. Buyers, it’s advisable that you have an inspection of the well. Have it tested to make sure it works properly, provides enough water, provides potable water and have the water tested for bacteria and nitrate levels.
Wildlife is attracted to water, so waterfront homes generally see more wildlife. How can this affect a property? Deer quietly lapping at the waterside and seals out in the water, of course. But this can also mean territorial geese, red tide, and nesting otters. If wildlife is top-of-mind for you, I can help you find out more.
Waterfront homes may come with more easements and allow government officials access to property in the event of storms and to check for stormwater problems. These may affect what can be built on the property (such as fences), so these should be top of mind when buying or selling. I’ll assist in providing information such as contacts, documentation, links so you’re aware of what you’re purchasing.
There are several other factors as well that I look at when I am helping buyers buy and sellers sell.
I would also advise that we find out more about the historical impact of erosion, weather, salt water (if applicable), maintenance requirements (as waterfront homes cost more to maintain), current state of that maintenance and more.
I will be looking for listing dollars (things buyers will pay more for) including outbuildings to house water toys, accessibility (is there a bank or bulkhead in place?), and outdoor living spaces that allow for maximum water enjoyment!
If you are buying ‘Be prepared for due diligence” I can and will provide information but it’s up to you to verify everything. Taking the time now can save you heartache later.
Don’t trust your waterfront buying or selling experience to an agent who doesn’t have a thorough understanding about waterfront.