Buying a Lakefront Home in the Adirondacks: 5 Things You Need to Know

There’s no denying that life is truly better at the lake, and with more than 3,000 lakes and ponds and more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, there’s really no better place than New York’s Adirondacks to own a waterfront home. Of course, buying a lakefront home does come with its own set of challenges.

If you are in the market for a lake house in Bolton Landing, Lake George, Lake Luzerne or anywhere in the Southern Adirondack Park, here are 5 things you absolutely need to know before you buy.

What Can You Do on the Water?

If you own a speedboat or jet skis, you’ll want to make sure your waterfront home is located on a lake that allows motorized watercraft. Alternatively, if you’re looking for peace and tranquility, you may prefer a lake that prohibits it. For those who enjoy swimming, water clarity and cleanliness may be important, while fishermen may be more interested in the aquatic life. Regardless of which water activities you prefer, you’ll want to make sure your lake can accommodate them.

Can You Make Changes to the Property?

Before buying a lakefront home in the Adirondacks, you’ll want to find out if there are any regulations regarding the shoreline and home improvements. This is especially important if you are thinking about making changes to the property, such as adding a second story, a dock, a pier or a boathouse. There may be restrictions on height, building materials, or how close you can build to the water, so make sure you understand any limitations before you buy.

Are the Home’s Utilities Adequate for Your Needs?

If you’re like most of my clients, and this is your first lake house in the Adirondacks, you might be surprised to learn that modern conveniences, such as electricity, clean drinking water, an adequate septic system, cable and internet are not always a given when you buy a lakefront home. Bringing these services into a remote or rural area can be pricey, so you’ll want to investigate their quality and availability before you buy.

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

If your Adirondack lake house is located in a flood zone, flood insurance isn’t just a good idea, it’s actually required by mortgage lenders as a condition of receiving a federally regulated mortgage loan. The average cost for a National Flood Insurance Program policy in New York State is around $1,200 for the year, but your actual cost will depend on your home’s exact location, its build and other factors. Even if you aren’t required to add flood insurance, you may want to consider it. Just a few inches of water can cause costly damage, and homeowner’s insurance policies don’t normally cover floods.

Are You Responsible for Maintaining a Bulkhead?

Some lakefront homes in the Adirondacks are protected by a bulkhead, or barrier wall, which separates the home and property from the water. These barriers are often made of rock or stone, and they can be expensive to maintain, so it’s important to factor these costs into your budget before you buy. Prior to purchasing a lakefront home with a bulkhead, you’ll want to hire a specialist to inspect it. He or she will be able to tell you if it needs repairs, and estimate how much it will cost to maintain it annually.

How Choosing the Right Real Estate Can Help

When buying a lakefront home in the Adirondacks, it’s important to work with a real estate agent who specializes in waterfront properties. In most cases, I’m able to answer these questions for my clients, or, in the very least, connect them with someone in my immediate network who can. Whereas, an average agent simply doesn’t have the knowledge or contacts necessary for such a specialized real estate transaction.

If you’re looking for a lakefront home, you can easily search properties on my website by water type – deeded water access, deeded access with a dock, direct waterfront and water view – or give me a call at (518) 321-1870, so that I can help narrow the search to your specific needs and wants.