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The Top 10 Things to Consider When Buying or Selling Waterfront Home in Minnesota July 6, 2016

Coon Rapids, Anoka
The Top 10 Things to Consider When Buying or Selling Waterfront Home in Minnesota, Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Top 10 Things to Consider When Buying or Selling Waterfront Property in Minnesota 

(Consumers typically utilize generic internet sources and curbside evaluations when considering Waterfront Properties available for sale).

A Waterfront Real Estate Specialist could be the key element in a successful acquisition and/or sale of a Minnesota Waterfront property.

Minnesota Lakeshore Specialists



Buyers considering buying waterfront property anywhere, are likely in the process of making one of the largest and most important investment decisions of their life. Making the decision(s) should be based on all of the facts associated with the entire property, lake, river systems and community versus the often times limiting facts ‘eye candy' and/or emotions associated with the descriptions and photos. Things to consider and to avoid in your pursuit of waterfront properties should also include the following waterfront considerations: 


1.  The Actual Waterfront
What are the waterfront features? Does it have a rock foundation, natural sand, grass, weeds, or mud? Is the shoreline invested with snails? Some waterfronts have an area that you can literally sit down in a lawn chair, dig your toes in the sand, and people watch. Some waterfronts are notorious for having bottomless mud and under tow currents. Is this what you really want? Often times buyers are fortunate enough to find a waterfront property (in their price range) with a natural sand shoreline.  However, a fair evaluation of the waterfront generally involves a specialist or potentially getting out your hip-waders and getting a little wet. "When buying waterfront property, the quality of the lake or river system and the bottom are as important as the buildings structured on the land".  There are a few people (very few) who just want to see the reflection of the sky on water as well, however many of those buyers will consider Lake or River view properties as well and typically will not pay a premium for actual #waterfront .

2.  The Lake or River Bottom 
What is the lake or river bottom like? Is it hard pan, sand, gravel, mud, or weeds? Does the bottom slope gradually or are there steep drop offs? This could be an important safety consideration with families and small children. "There is never too much information available when it comes to the safety of the waterfront property".  Waterfront Buyers and Sellers truly need to be the most informed when making their decisions to sell or purchase.

3.  The Actual Lake or River

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides excellent lake information on their website,  Effectively reviewing their website will allow consumers the necessary information available to help them determine the following: size of the lake and river system, the lakes littoral area, the lakes depth, plus much more. A quick measure of the quality of a lake might include comparing the ratio of lake acres to littoral acres (area less than 15 feet). For example, if we look up Rice Lake (near Brainerd), it has 434 acres and 202 littoral acres. This indicates that less than half the lake is less than 15 feet in depth, thus it would be a good overall multi-use lake. Conversely, Little Blueberry Lake is 522 acres in size with a littoral area of 522 acres, with a maximum depth of 15 feet. This indicates that the entire lake has the possibility of blooming over with weeds and vegetation as the summer progresses. It's a good idea to get in a boat or canoe and check out the lake first hand if possible. This will also help you determine what kind of cabins/homes are on the lake if allowed. Are there million dollar mansions or shacks packed together? Other important considerations includes the impact of millfoil or zebra mussels if any.

4.  Current Lake and/or River Usage 
Great questions buyers should ask themselves before considering purchasing waterfront include: How do you plan on using the water system? Are you hoping to be swimming regularly? Some waterfronts are too shallow or weedy for swimming. Do you really want to wade through mud to go swimming? Do you want to just sit on your dock and relax? Some larger lakes like Minnetonka and Whitefish and others get so much boat and personal watercraft traffic that it's almost impossible to just sit on your dock and relax (especially on weekends). Buyers should consider the amount of boat traffic as well.   Is it safe to water ski or pull people on water toys? Lakes less than 150 acres may be too small for skiing. Lakes with a high ratio of littoral area may be too weedy for skiing. Larger lakes like Mille Lacs and Leech Lake have large unprotected surface areas, which enables the wind to whip across and work up four foot waves. Can you swim, ski or fish when there are four foot waves? Lake size does matter!  SELLER SOLUTIONS TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS:  Make sure your real estate professional 'Tells the Story' on your behalf to better explain and/or diffuse buyer concerns associated with the lifestyle on that particular waterfront property.

5.  Fishing
More Buyer Questions to consider:  Do you or your guests intend on fishing? Do you want to fish in summer and winter seasons? Some lakes and many river systems are not really usable in winter, others contain "hot-spots". What's the quality of fishing? What species of fish reside in the lake or rive; walleye, muskie, bass, or rough fish? Is this what you wanting to sport? Are there any winter kill possibilities?

SELLER SOLUTIONS TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS:  Make sure your real estate professional 'Tells the Story' on your behalf to better explain and/or diffuse buyer concerns associated with the lifestyle on that particular waterfront property.

6.  Biodiversity
Some waterfront properties offer a vast biodiversity when it comes to a variety of shores, bottoms, currents etc. For instance, on Rice Lake near Brainerd and Clear Lake near Pequot Lakes you will find a mixture of beautiful sand lakeshore coupled with cool natural flowing springs. Biodiversity like this is rare and priceless, but within your grasp in Minnesota. Lakes that are fed by rivers like the Minnesota, St. Croix or Mississippi offer more diversity to explore and enjoy. The adjoining river is an extension of the lake. In essence, the river increases the lake size and opportunities associates with enjoyment, fishing and value.

7.  Property Location/Placement on the Lake or River System
Every waterfront lot has advantages and disadvantages depending on where they are located and the consumers buying perspective as well as the sellers perspective associated with their ownership positions. For instance, if the house or cabin is located on the east side of the lake, the obvious experiences associated with the beautiful sunsets factors differently on everyone. If however,  the house is on the west side likely the amazing sunrises become a key lifestyle factor regarding potential enjoyment of the property. Consumer questions to consider: Does this make a difference to your lifestyle and quiet enjoyment of the property? Lake and/or river elevations are also important. Does it have steep or gradual elevations? Can you see the lake from the house in all seasons? Do you have to wade through swamp or weeds to get to the water?  Finally, what are the views like in a variety of seasons?  Again, sellers can diffuse all of these questions by having their real estate professional tell that story in their online marketing pieces.  Marketing waterfront properties with a limited photo shoot, property and lot dimensions simply do a dis-service to all parties.

8.  Lake or River Levels 
In north central MN, regularly experiences a few back to back years of below average rain fall. Some lake and river levels have dropped several feet. On these lakes, lake front property owners have experienced the "receding" water level dilemma. Boat lifts could be dry-docked.

9.  Availability of Services
For some buyers, it is important to be close to the amenities that make lifestyle more comfortable. Such as restaurants, bars, gas, bait, golf courses, hardware and groceries.

10. Distance & Travel Time
For most buyers distance and travel time is important. Commuting to and from a waterfront home while living and/or working in the Minneapolis Saint Paul Metro is a key element to consider.  Particularly the typical commuting days and times travelling to and from the property.


11.  Lakeshore or Waterfront Building Restrictions 
Lakeshore or Waterfront building guidelines are usually set by the State. Each county must adhere to the State guidelines but they can also set their own local restrictions. These collective guidelines dictate things like; set backs of the house from the water and property lines.  There could be agricultural or DNR easements, and of course well and septic system requirements. Future expansion considerations are also key when it comes to considering a buying decision as well.  Any potential expansion plans will have to conform with "waterfront" zoning guidelines. This is yet another key reason to consider being aligned with  associated with an experienced waterfront professional.

12.  Seasonal Or Year Round Use
Ultimately, a key set of property use questions buyers must consider include:  Is the waterfront home your going to be a primary residence?  Is snowmobiling, cross country skiing or ice fishing important? Is the house insulated for winter use? Have the water lines been plumbed so that they can be readily used and winterized when winter approaches? Does the property have "crawl spaces" under the cabin to access mechanical and/or water lines?

13.  Public Access
Is there a public access? If it doesn't - how are you and your guests going to get your water toys in and out of the water? Is the landing concrete or sand/gravel? Will you be able to launch your boat? Beware of lakes on "chains". Is there a usable/navigable channel that will accommodate the size of boat that you have?

14.  Ice Out 
With spring comes ice out. Consider the pre-veiling winds for ice out conditions and/or risks.  Some waterfront properties experience  loss in structure and value during ice out situations. Mille Lacs Lake for instance is notorious for severe ice out conditions that send walls of ice and debris towards the lakeshore. These walls of ice will move small mountains of dirt and sand. A gradual slope to the lake could become a five foot drop-off over night.

15.  Pricing!  This is a key element and could be an entire topic of discussion.  Speak to a professional on this before making any decision.  Some properties are completely off the mark when it comes to list price.

16.   Having a professional guiding you is key!

Think About This! Most people developing personal wealth utilize a professional manager or stock broker. Is the Real Estate person you know a Strategic Real Estate Investment Professional? America's biggest and greatest asset generally revolves around their personal real estate acquisitions. You owe yourself the right to be aligned with entrusted professionals utilizing creative wealth building strategies. Our mission is simple: We want to accelerate your personal wealth through proven systems, management and implementation strategies we have developed over the years.

For specific waterfront questions, simply call:

Frank D'Angelo - Broker of Record



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