Tips for that dreamy lakefront property search

Heather Morse

As summer approaches many home buyers find themselves searching for that perfect home or cabin on the lake. From cool dips on hot days to barbecues with friends, it’s no wonder so many buyers are drawn to an oasis on the water. But before you start stocking up on s’mores supplies there are a few key things about lakefront properties you should know. For instance, purchasing camps requires a different type of financing than traditional homes, there are specific laws associated with lakefront properties, and it’s best to be fully informed before you start your search.

First, to purchase a lake home your lender will want to know if the home is considered seasonal or year-round. Just because the property has heat, insulation, septic and water doesn’t allow you to live there as a full-time resident. Special permits are required for year-round residency. When you start shopping make sure to clarify with your realtor whether you are looking to live on the lake or just summer there.

Want to make changes to the property? A little due diligence will be needed to ensure you’re complying with the Shoreland Protection Act, which regulates shore land development within 250 feet of the water’s edge. To be able to cut trees or limbs you will need a state department employee to visit the property and grant permission. Typically, permission is only granted in the instance that a tree or limbs are threatening the house. This means if you want to put on an addition, a deck or create a better view, your options might be limited. While this can be somewhat discouraging, it’s all for the well-being and preservation of the lake and surrounding land.

Location is also something to consider, not just for resale or convenience but for water quality and potential flooding. Blue-green algae can be found in many Vermont lakes and can affect your ability to use the water because of the dangerous toxins this alga can produce. Make sure to research the lake and region’s history for algae, keeping in mind no year is the same. Flooding is another danger not only to your property but to your wallet. Flood insurance has the potential to cost more than your home owners insurance.

Another common occurrence in lakefront properties is leased land. If you purchase a lake home or camp, you may be purchasing only the building, not the land. Many lake homes are on leased land, whether this means the land belongs to the state, a person or perhaps a homeowner’s association. When considering purchasing you should discuss with your realtor the terms of the lease and how much time it has left. Advantages to leased land include the potential for more shared land to enjoy, shared cost of maintenance and potentially being able to afford more house since you’re buying just the house and not the land. However, because you don’t own it, it’s important to know what your rights and limitations are.

These are just a few of the things to consider about lakefront properties. Local realtors who know the area can provide invaluable help, but make sure to do your research and never hesitate to ask any questions. A lake home can provide years of cherished times and sun-soaked memories—as long as you buy the one that’s right for you.

Heather Morse of Charlotte is a Greentree Real Estate agent. For more information, email her. Karen Sherman contributed to this story.

Charlotte property transfers

April 3. Matthew M. and Theresa M. Maynard to Josh E. May and Rachel M. Daley, 1.0 acre with dwelling, 237 Lynrick Acres, $298,000.

April 3. Linda Reynolds to Michael Haulenbeek and Vera Simon-Nobes, 4.93 acres with dwelling, 86 Tavern Road, $363,000.

April 5. Mary Van Vleck to April Thanhauser, 0.11 acre with dwelling, 17 Common Way, $410,000.

April 12. Henry S. Barnes and Kathryn S. Barnes Joint Trust to Thomas Andrew Shurman, Monique Shurman, Elias Schoen and Isabelle Shurman, 1.0 acre with dwelling, 2356 Spear Street, $269,000.

April 17. Clark W. III and Suzanne Hinsdale to Mount Philo Hops LLC, 58.89 acres, land only, 301 East Thompson’s Point Road, $245,000.

April 25. Richard G. LaBoeuf Family Trust to Estate of Shirley Bruce, 1.2 acres with dwelling, 715 Cedar Beach Road, $718,511.

April 28. Laura Lipton to Christine Souliere and Caryn Waxman, 1 acre boundary adjustment, 236 Lucy’s Lane, $8,353.17.

June 5. Jonathan and Lorelei Atwood to Daniel and Julia Cavanagh, 0.6 acre with dwelling, 13 Common Way, $335,000.

June 8. Residents Trust to Komal Dhall and Ajat Tariyal, 144 acres with dwelling, 1914 Prindle Road, $775,000.