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There's Waterfront Property, and Then There's Waterfront Property
Tips and Information for Buying Florida Real Estate and Selling Florida Real Estate

There's Waterfront, and Then There's Waterfront

There is waterfront, and then there is waterfront

Lots of waterfront property is advertised for sale in Florida. Waterfront homes and condos abound all along the Florida coastline, but just because it says waterfront, is it really?

People see an ad for waterfront houses in Florida, and envision living right on the Gulf or on the Atlantic Ocean, or perhaps a house overlooking one of the harbors or rivers. The truth is, most waterfront homes are on canals, many of them dredged, and the view is not spectacular. Waterfront living is not really all about the view, except in the very nicest locations. It is about boating in the tropics.

Before purchasing a waterfront home, you need to consider what kind of boating you wish to do. Most people want to fish or cruise in the coastal waters, but some of the waterfront properties are on freshwater canals that do not lead to salt water, or lead to salt water only through a lock. Boating in salt water is hard on boats, but much more interesting than the freshwater boating we have in Florida. Boaters purchasing waterfront Florida homes or condos will want to check to make sure the water is salt, or that the property offers access to saltwater.

Even if you have found a saltwater waterfront property, it may not necessarily be great for boating. Many of the canal networks are quite extensive, and that can mean an hour idling slowly through the canals before you get out to the water, then another hour on the way home. That long canal run will get tiresome, and the boat will sit neglected.

When you find a property on salt water in Florida, and it is not too far up a canal to be usable, there are still a couple of usability questions. The canal may be deep enough for your type of boat, but what about the dock? Is it deep enough at the dock? If not, is dredging permitted? Can you put in a boat lift or davits? Some waterfront homes will already have these items in place. Check those carefully before buying a house on the water, because the environment is harsh, and they do not last forever.

If the canal and dock are suitable, there is yet another question: Is the channel leading out to open water deep enough? In many cases, it is significantly shallower than the canals themselves, and a Realtor interested in making a sale may neglect to mention this fact — or may not even be aware of it.

Sailors have yet another concern: Are there bridges or overhead powerlines over the canals leading to the home or condominium on the water? These can block sailboat access to open water — and again, some Realtors, if they are not themselves sailors, may not be aware of the problem. There are sailboats with folding masts that are appropriate for the "powerboat" sections of canal communities, but on most sailboats, dropping the mast to go under a bridge is difficult or impossible.

Be sure to ask your Realtor about all of these issues if you are purchasing undeveloped waterfront property in Florida, or if you are buying a home or condominium on the water in Florida.

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