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Five tips on buying lakefront real estate in Wisconsin

Skyscrapers skyline of Milwukee and reflections in Lake Michigan, WI

Skyscrapers skyline of Milwukee and reflections in Lake Michigan, WI

For many home buyers in Wisconsin, living right beside a lake is the ultimate dream. There are countless reasons why – fantastic fishing opportunities, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, easy boating access, breathtaking natural scenery you can enjoy any time, and more.

Lakefront real estate options in Wisconsin are very diverse – there are over 15,000 lakes in the region, and properties are available in many types and sizes, each with their own unique features. Keep in mind that a waterfront property is a huge investment – you need to find an ideal property that will fit your requirements and preferences, so you may be able to enjoy the perfect lakeside lifestyle.

Here are a few tips:


Consider your reasons for buying a lakeside home

Before you hunt for the perfect waterfront property, it’s important for you to consider your reasons and assess your expectations. For example, if part of your dream is to have access to a sandy beach, living next to a lake with a natural muck bottom will disappoint you. If you enjoy activities like water skiing or power boating, you need to look for a large, deep lake which will accommodate such activities. If you’re just after the beautiful views, a natural shoreline will work best.


Make a list of must-have features

List down some of the features you’d like to have in your lakefront home, and arrange the items according to importance. Remember to be specific, and don’t settle for anything less than your dream home. Being honest will help you gain a better overview of your expectations, which is key to finding suitable lakes.


Be familiar with local laws

As a future waterfront property owner, you need to familiarize yourself with Federal, state, and local laws before you purchase a property.

To help you through this process, you can view the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (WDNR) guide to Choosing the Right Waterfront Property. The guide contains helpful tips on the things you need to consider and several factors that will assist you in finding the right property.


Choosing the right lake size

The size of the lake is an important factor when choosing your location. Lake size can influence a number of aspects, including the sense of community, shore views, and boating, fishing, and other recreational activities.

On smaller lakes for example, the shoreline of neighboring homes across the lake will be visible. Larger lakes on the other hand have a more distant shoreline, which is excellent if you enjoy more views of the water. If you’re an owner of motorized watercraft, you’ll also have more surface area to explore on your boat.


Look into the water quality

Not all lakes in Wisconsin feature crystal clear water. If you enjoy activities like swimming or fishing, then water clarity is something you’ll need to keep in mind when writing down your list of requirements.

The quality of the lake water can be affected by several factors, including polluted runoffs from watersheds or activities from the lake’s shoreline. Before you buy a home, look into the rules and regulations set by the lakefront community, as water quality is directly tied to how lakefront property owners maintain and manage their shorelines.