Sounds good, doesn't it?

Published in the August 2009 Issue Published online: Sep 02, 2008
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Imagine waking up on a beautiful, calm morning and looking out the window to see a peaceful lake staring back at you. What better way to enjoy that lake than living next to it with a pontoon in its own private dock?

"Right now is a great time to look for property along the lake," says Kristin Allan, sales associate with Prudential Lake Ozark Realty in Missouri. "Living in a lakefront community is the ultimate in being able to enjoy all the benefits of bringing a family together through boating,"

As a real estate agent, Allan has a few tips for consumers to be aware of in locating and nabbing the best lakefront property for you, without getting a lemon and without biting off more than you can chew.

Location

Given the fact that the United States has a large number of lakes, the first step would be to determine what area would appeal to your needs. Are you shooting for a lakefront vacation home or retirement property that is close to your existing home? Would you like to get away from it all and find a lake outside of your area? Whether or not you'll use it for your family or for a corporate retreat affects the area and the type of lake on which you're looking.

The Internet is a fabulous tool for aiding in a particular area, where a person can research lakes and their neighboring communities, or around the country, before you load up your car and travel to random locations. For example, at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, a person can visit www.funlake.com or www.prulakeozarkrealty.com to educate him or herself on the lake's history, population, attractions, climate, etc., as well as tour properties actively listed in the area. Google, Yahoo and other search engines can be used to research different lake communities around the country.

Allan says that when researching a prospective lake, a person needs to research whether or not the lake of choice has certain restrictions and regulations, such as boat size regulations, speed limits and seawall/boat dock or slip restrictions. Proper advanced knowledge of the lake community and all its restrictions may help a person with his or her lake property search.

Purchasing

As with any real estate purchase in today's market, if a person is interested in buying lakefront property Allan strongly advises a buyer to make sure he meets with a lender for pre-approval.

"Mortgage companies are cracking down on second homes," she says.

A buyer will know exactly what his price range is and what his budget can allow, before he starts his lakefront property search. Pun intended, it's a sinking feeling when you find the perfect property, only to realize you cannot afford it.

Inspections

After you have your pre-approval letter, have determined what area you are purchasing in and have met with a real estate agent, more than likely you will find a property that meets your needs. Allan urges that before you sign on the dotted line and close on the home, you should order property inspections to be done on the property, from termite, mechanical, plumbing, radon, spot survey, septic and water well inspections, just to name a few. When carried out by a licensed inspector, these inspections ensure a paper trail that informs the new buyer of any items in need of repair or replacement. A buyer would not want to purchase a home without inspections, only to find out two months after the purchase that the septic system on the property was in need of replacement, which could be a large out-of-pocket cost to the new buyer.

Boat Lifts

Once you have your property, and once you know for sure it's legal for you to install a boat lift, you'll want to have one professionally installed to keep your boat's hull out of the water when not in use, prolonging the life of your boat.

Brian Schuster at Summerset Boat Lifts in Osage Beach, Mo., has a few tips regarding your boat lift. He says that maintaining your investment is particularly important in rough water.

"You should always be aware of conditions that could be potentially harmful to your boat lift," he says.

He says you should NEVER leave your boat lift down in rough water-it is always better to leave your boat lift in the raised position when not in use.

When a long period of time passes from when you last used it to the next time you need to use it, it's always a good idea to do a walk-around before you operate the lift. Ensure that all of the bolts are in the proper alignment. Look at the pivot bolts to make certain they are all attached tightly. Look at the hoses and bushings to make certain all are in good working order.

After the walk-around, Schuster suggests raising your lift before going to lower it. It may sound strange, but he says that, more times than not, simply confirming your lift is fully inflated and level will save you problems down the line. If you suspect a problem, it is best not to operate the lift.

A lift that is un-level is difficult to control when lowering your boat.

"It takes a steady mind to look at the investment of a boat sitting precariously crooked in your boat slip after a mistake has been made!" he says.

It'll take a professional to tend to the needs of your boat once you've made too big a mistake.

"It's always better to wait if there's a problem," Schuster says. "If you've noticed your boat lift isn't operating properly, it will be much better to leave it as you've found it rather than force the issue and make it worse."

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