A Boater’s Guide To Buying a Waterfront Home

A Boaters guide to buying a home!

For water lovers and boating enthusiasts, purchasing waterfront home can be a rewarding and exciting experience for you and your family. Without the proper knowledge, the process can quickly turn into an expensive nightmare. Like most major financial decisions, planning ahead and asking the right questions can save you time and money.

For example, if you plan to dock a boat at your newly purchased home, make sure to keep in mind your current and future boating needs. If you have a smaller boat now, but plan to buy a larger yacht in the future, make sure the home you're going to purchase can accommodate the larger boat. These local tips should provide you with a good start on the basics of waterfront property. When you are ready to start your search, call or text us anytime!

Location, Location, Location

Just like all other real estate, the location of your waterfront home will determine the price, it's available use and resale value. Make sure you're asking all the right questions when considering your purchase. How long does it take to get out to the ocean? Are there any fixed bridges? If you are a fisherman and want to keep your live bait healthy at all times, then you will probably want to buy in a neighborhood close to Hillsboro Inlet, Boca Inlet or Port Everglades. For residents who work downtown, the neighborhoods along the New River and Las Olas Boulevard provide for an easy commute by car and direct ocean access by boat. If you enjoy wake boarding or water skiing, living close to a water sports zone like those on the Middle River or Rio Barcelona may be attractive.

Traliering and Boat Ramps

Do you frequently trailer your boat? If so, is there a desirable boat ramp nearby? Where is the local marina, fuel pump, best restaurant? We know the local waterways like no one else and we're prepared to show you a variety of properties. 

Waterfront Property Types

The waterways of South Florida provide potential buyers with a wide variety of property types including condos, townhomes and single family residences. For the ultimate experience in waterfront living, there's a few oceanfront neighboorhoods that also offer dockage for your boat. Another affordable option is to live on the beach and keep your boat at a nearby marina. Most properties however are located on a bay, lake, canal, river or on the Intracoastal Waterway. Many boaters want reasonable access to the ocean and a popular choice is a single family home or condo with canal frontage in close proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway. Most ocean access canals tend to be the most desirable for boaters because the water is typically clean and calm, and they allow for easy dockage. Canal ends on the other hand, while they can have nice views, may have smaller docks and limited maneuverability. Also, trash and debris tend to build up at the end of canals and this build up smells and looks bad.

Point lots are the most desirable and are located on corner lots with water frontage on at least two sides of the property. A point lot, while typically more expensive, can provide twice the waterfront as well as dockage for multiple boats. The larger Intracoastal point lots with their wide views are some of the most desirable in South Florida and will demand the highest prices of all Intracoastal frontage property. These owners will keep their boats on their side canal so they don’t interfere with their water views and the boat is protected from the wakes of passing boats on the Intracoastal waterway. Smaller boats under 30 feet are typically kept on lifts, especially within wake zones.

Exposure is another factor to consider whening searching for waterfront property, by this we mean where the water is in relation to the structure, or most often where the back of the home faces. Southern and Eastern exposure tend to be the most desirable in South Florida. Keep in mind, if you plan on spending time outside enjoying your view or working on your boat, the afternoon sun can be brutal in the afternoons mostly year round.

Seawalls and Dockage

All waterfront properties will have a seawall or rockwall and it is critical that you have it inspected by a licensed marine construction contractor during your inspection (Due Diligence) period ends since repairs and/or replacement can be very costly.

Bowing, cracks, holes behind the seawall and lack of batter pilings are all issues to be concerned about. Dock types, sizes and materials vary from property to property and may or may not be important depending on your boating needs. Most seawall contractors can inspect your dock as well, so make sure your inspection is comprehensive and includes your dock and wood pilings which can deteriorate if not maintained properly. Many docks have lights, power receptacles, water and even cable TV and telephone lines. Make sure the utilities are installed to code and include the proper connections and safety devices. A popular utility solution for boaters is to install a pedestal on the dock with lights, water and the necessary shore power adapters for your boat. A marine contractor can also give an estimate for all of this.

Zoning and Accessibility

Here's where having a waterfront expert comes in...Zoning laws apply to boats too, so before you purchase make sure you understand how local zoning may restrict the size and type of boat you can dock at your property. Be extremely cautious, city zoning can be different than county zoning. For example, the city of Fort Lauderdale RS4.4 allows your boat to extend up to 30% the width (or 25 feet, whichever is less) of the waterway including your dock (Broward County is 33%). The theory is that if your boat extends out into the canal 30% and your neighbor across the canal also extends out 30% then there is still 40% of the waterway left for navigation. Setbacks are another issue and restrict how close your boat can be to your neighbor’s property. Setbacks can literally be different for every lot, so make sure you know the exact zoning for your property. An Abode By The Sea agent will either know this information or will assist you in confirming the local zoning laws.

Water depth can be an issue especially for sailboats and large yachts, so you should measure the depth at low tide to make sure your boat won’t hit bottom when docked. Our company boat can assist you if needed!

Fixed Bridges

What about fixed bridges? Depending on the size of your boat you may be limited to properties with “no fixed bridges” or also know as "deep water". Unlike a draw bridge that opens and allows large boats to pass underneath, a fixed bridge is fixed in size and does not open. All fixed bridges have different height restrictions, so make sure your boat will fit underneath at high tide before you purchase property behind one.

For more information on buying and selling waterfront property please contact us.