By Reid Buckley
People often ask me: what goes into the pricing of a waterfront home? It’s an excellent — and important — question for both buyers and sellers. This article will let you in on the “Six Secrets” of establishing a waterfront home’s value. Of course, not everyone will agree on which element has greater value. What matters is getting the right fit for your particular “dream home.” Buyers can use this list to prioritize what is important for them; sellers should consider how their home might be valued and how best to highlight its features.
1. Water view. This has one of the biggest impacts on the price of a waterfront property. Views that are wide (the scope of the view from left to right) and deep (how far you can see into the distance) tend to be appealing to more people. But views may not be important for everyone. The widest and deepest views tend to be on the Bay which can be shallow and rough, and so not suited to large or deep draft boats.
2. Water depth. The Chesapeake Bay is overall a shallow body of water. In this area, a dock with 5 to 6 feet of water is considered a “deep water dock.” This depth typically works for power boats up to 50 ft and shallow draft sailboats but owners of larger or deeper vessels may need to pay more for deeper water. If you love kayaking, canoeing, or jet skiing, you may find a beautiful home with a shallow water dock that can accommodate these types of boats at a more reasonable price.
3. Location. Generally speaking, the closer the property is to city dock in downtown Annapolis, the higher the value will be. You can almost draw concentric circles with city dock at the center and calculate a reduction with each circle away from the heart of our capital city. For instance, a $2 million home in Deale would probably sell for closer to $4 million in Eastport.
4. Condition of the home. True for waterfront and non-waterfront homes alike, houses in good condition almost always sell for more. Move-in ready homes are appealing to buyers who don’t have the time or desire to renovate. If you are a seller, it is imperative to get your home as show-ready as possible before coming on the market. When interviewing real estate agents, sellers should ask if the agent provides staging services to help with this process. On the other hand, buyers looking for a bargain should be shopping for a home that might need a little work.
5. The size of the house. Given that each waterfront property is unique, it is not possible to price by square footage alone. That being said, larger homes do tend to command a higher value. Desired size of the home will depend on the needs of the buyer: some want a two-bedroom condo with a boat slip for a weekend crash pad while others have children and need additional rooms for a work from home set-up.
6. The size of the lot (acreage). Many waterfront buyers are looking for privacy and are dismayed that they have to choose between either a small lot or an expensive property. I often suggest to these buyers that their privacy objectives can be achieved at a much lower price with landscaping and hardscaping. Fencing, fast growing evergreens, and screens on the sides of porches are a way to obtain privacy without needing to buy a large waterfront property. However, if having a large property is at the top of your priority list, you may still be able to achieve your objective and stay on budget by looking at properties further from downtown.
Every waterfront property is a unique work of art and each factor that affects value must be evaluated on a property-specific basis. For buyers, being aware of the six secrets of waterfront home valuation as well as your family’s personal priorities can help you find the perfect match. No point paying for deep water if what you really love is kayaking. As a home purchase is one of the most significant decisions affecting your lifestyle, you may be able to get a home that you really like by simply compromising on some of the factors that are not as important to you. For sellers, understanding what buyers are looking for and how to make your home shine can help you get top dollar.
Reid Buckley, MBA, is a licensed real estate agent and waterfront specialist with The Mr. Waterfront Team of Long & Foster Real Estate. She can be reached at (410) 266-6880 or via email at Reid@WaterFrontHomes.org.
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