What Does "Waterfront Property" Really Mean, Anyway?
Waterfront property is always in high demand, and almost always commands a premium price. Nearly everyone loves the peace and quiet, and views, and the additional privacy that come with a home on the water. In particular, boaters, sailors and fishermen desire waterfront property for the convenience of keeping their boat at a dock or on a lift in their back yard.
But when you're shopping for waterfront real estate in Florida, you should be aware of the different types of waterfront property, and what your real estate agent might mean by the different terms.
- Ocean front, beach front, or Gulf front: This typically refers to property located on the water directly on the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. This will generally be the most sought-after and highest-priced of all waterfront property.
- Bay front: Usually refers to real estate located on a bay or sound that provides direct access to the Gulf or the Atlantic. This sounds good, but if you're a boater, you'll want to find out things like water depth, tidal variation, and the presence of marked channels before making a decision.
- Canal front: Canal properties are located on a canal that usually — but not always — leads to the open water, such as the Gulf or the Atlantic. In inland areas, it might refer to canals that lead to Lake Okeechobee or another inland lake. If you're looking to purchase canal front real estate, be sure to find out where the canal leads to, and what obstacles might be presented to a boater attempting to navigate out the canal.
- River front or creek front: Property located on a river or canal, which may or may not lead anywhere. Some of Florida's rivers and creeks are so small as to be unnavigable by boats of any size, so if boating is your pleasure and boating from your backyard is your aim, be sure to check carefully the depth of the river and where it leads. Many of Florida's rivers lead out to the Gulf of Mexico or to the Atlantic, but you might have a long trip by boat to get there.
- Lake front: The property is situated on a lake (or lagoon or bayou), but there might be no access to rivers, canals, or other open water. Florida has many communities developed around land-locked lakes, and they often offer many desirable amenities, but if you have your heart set on stepping into your boat and motoring off into the Gulf for a little fishing, a land-locked lake isn't for you.
- Water view: May also be called bay view, river view, lake view, or ocean view. These properties typically are not located directly on the water. The "view" means that in at least one location on the property, if you stand in just the right place and look in just the right direction, you can see a river, lake, or other body of water.
Clearly, some waterfront properties will be perfect for some people but wholly unacceptable for others. If you wish only to drop your boat off a lift into a lake for a day of waterskiing, a lakefront house with no access to open water may be just the thing for you. If you want a waterfront home for the peace and quiet and privacy, you'll want to find out how much boat traffic you can expect cruising past your backyard all summer and on weekends throughout the year. A sailor will want to check for bridges and overheard powerlines that might block access to the Gulf, while a flats fisherman won't be concerned with those things.
The key to buying the perfect waterfront real estate for you is to first clarify what you expect from it, and then make sure that any property you might consider actually meets your expectations.