What to ask when buying a waterfront home

Metrowest Daily News real estate

It's that time of year when many of us dream of living on the water. Owning a waterfront home can be a great joy, if you choose an area that works well for you and your lifestyle. Here are a few questions that are helpful to ask when considering buying a waterfront home.

1. What recreational activities are allowed? Each body of water (and even different areas of beachfront) has different rules. For example, Farm Pond in Sherborn is quiet and free of motorboats, while Lake Maspenock in Hopkinton is frequented by boaters and jet skiers. Be sure the activities in the area are a good fit for you and your family.

2. Where are the lot lines? Ask for a copy of the plot plan and deed (and neighborhood plan if one exists) so you have a clear picture of where the property borders lie. For example, not all waterfront homes actually own the land directly up to the water’s edge.

3. What are the water usage rights associated with the property? For example, simply owning waterfront property doesn't ensure that you have the right to add a dock or mooring. Have your buyer’s agent check into the riparian/littoral rights (i.e., rights associated with owning a specific waterfront property).

4. Does the property have expansion possibilities? There are some restrictions on building in watershed areas. If you're considering adding onto the home in the future, talk with the local building department and conservation department to see what the potential is for doing so. They should be able to provide some guidance to help you determine if this might be a possibility in the future.

5. What's the area like during different times of day and different seasons? Check out the area during the day and night to get a sense of the community. Also, it's a good idea to talk with neighbors to hear what they like and dislike about the area. They can also give you a sense of what it's like to live there during off-season. For example, do people ice fish, ski, or snowmobile there in the winter? Do they enjoy living there year round?

6. What's the water quality like? The local board of health, watershed association, and neighborhood association are great resources for learning about the water quality. For example, is the shoreline rocky or sandy? If it's a lake or pond, do they struggle with weed issues?

7. Are there any easements on the property? These are common in crowded waterfront neighborhoods. For example, you might find that the deed allows a nearby homeowner a "right of way" to the water. Knowing this ahead of time can help avoid issues and ensure smooth relations with neighbors.

Hopefully gathering this information ahead of time will help you find a new waterfront home that you'll enjoy for many years to come.

Have a real estate question? Contact Leslie Mann at realestatequeries@yahoo.com or 508-904-4967 and she'd be glad to answer your confidential questions here. Mann is a real estate agent with Hallmark Sotheby's International Realty in Hopkinton.