8 Tips for Buying a Lakefront Vacation Rental

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Moreland Properties is a full-service real estate brokerage in Austin, Texas. With local roots and global connections, Moreland Properties is the luxury market leader and specializes in everything from waterfront, hill country land and ranch and residential sales.  Moreland Properties is the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, and Luxury Portfolio.

There’s no shortage of beautiful waterfront in Austin. Lake Austin and Lake Travis entertain lake lovers year-round, making it the ideal place to buy a home on the water for both personal and rental use. Whether you’re looking to invest in a move-in ready waterfront property with all the amenities you can think of or a home that you can update and make your own, there are a few things to consider when buying a lakefront property – especially when you plan to use it as a short-term vacation rental.

Find a real estate agent who’s a true waterfront specialist

When it comes to picking an agent, you’ll want to work with someone who has detailed knowledge about waterfront properties as well as extensive knowledge about the transaction process. Title issues, structural issues, and the way the market looks at the property makes this a job for a talented and informed agent. Before deciding on a realtor, make sure you ask them about their experience with waterfront properties, especially vacation rentals.

Choose the right water based on your lifestyle

Not all waterfront is created equal. Choose your lakefront home based on the type of lake lifestyle you’re interested in. If you’re interested in boating and watersports, opting for a property on a large part of the lake is ideal – especially when access to a boat slip, dock, or boathouse are included. If you’re looking to invest in something a bit more peaceful and relaxing, consider a home on a more secluded part of the lake. Rental properties positioned in an area where guests can enjoy a wide array of activities will attract a higher number of visitors.

Inspect the property and waterfront carefully

Higher moisture levels often yield mold or mildew, and it’s a wise idea to inspect the property carefully before committing. Surveys, elevation certificates, water quality tests, and more can be used to determine whether your waterfront home is a good investment. If you have the chance, go out on the water to be sure that your prospective new home isn’t on a part of the waterfront choked with debris and weeds. When you buy a waterfront home, you’re also investing in the water itself.

Check insurance requirements

With the help of your real estate agent, look into both homeowner insurance and vacation rental insurance early, and be aware of what you’re getting into. Insurance can be costly and complicated for waterfront homes and varies depending on the market you’re investing in. Homes on the water will naturally have a higher risk of flood damage, and it’s best to thoroughly discuss options with your realtor and insurance agent before signing a contract.

Research the shoreline

It’s not impossible that the shoreline moves over time and water levels tend to fluctuate based on season and weather conditions. If the water levels rise too far, you could end up losing or experiencing damage to your property. If the water levels fall too low, it may hinder the accessibility of the lake. With the help of a knowledgeable agent, explore the history and think about the future of the shoreline.

Look into hidden costs and utilities

Waterfront properties can carry additional expenses that buyers might not be aware of. Water and sewer rates could be more expensive, boat dock and lift fees need to be paid, and septic rates can add up. With more acreage and privacy than homes found closer into the nearest city, lakefront properties may offer fewer conveniences and require property adjustments before move-in. Take this into consideration when purchasing a home and setting your nightly rental rates.

Learn about your responsibilities as a waterfront homeowner

Always talk to your agent about what kind of upkeep and maintenance you can expect when buying a lakefront property. You can also reach out to the local homeowners association for more information regarding homeownership in the area.

Understand the local rental market

If you’re purchasing a waterfront home with the intent of making it a rental property, be sure to understand the rental market in your area. It can be tricky to get the permitting needed to make your home a short or long-term rental, so be sure to as your agent about the status and future of the rental market in that area.


Want to buy a rental property, but not quite sure a lake property is right for you? Check out TurnKey’s tips for purchasing ski homes and beach houses.

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