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Buying A Lake Home In Michigan | What They Don't Tell You

Buying A Lake Home In Michigan | What They Don't Tell You - So you’re thinking about doing some waterfront living in Michigan? In this video, I am going to break down some questions and scenarios you probably never thought about to help you pick your dream lake to have a home on.

Buying a home on a Michigan lake can be a dream come true, but it can also be a nightmare if you don't know what you're doing. Stick around until the end to get my take on lake front living in Michigan.

Lately, I have been getting a TON of comments, questions and inquiries about living on the water. Not only from people living in the state of Michigan, but people living across the country as well. With that being said, I figured I would make a video about just that to help your decisions. And before I get too far in this video I want to mention a video I made a little while back about knowing your water rights. It’s EXTREMELY important to understand, coming from a waterfront homeowner myself. So be sure to add that video to your queue.

Let’s first start by taking a step back and talk about some questions you need to ask yourself before you start looking at all the different lakes in Michigan, because it can get pretty overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So start with these questions: What do you plan to do on the lake? Is it only about the view? Are you just wanting to paddle board and kayak? Do you want to find a lake that has great fishing opportunities? Or are you wanting a lake that’s big enough for skiing, wakeboarding and tubing? Or maybe somewhere in the middle? Just this question alone can filter out a ton of lakes in southeast Michigan.

For example, the private all sports lake I live on is just under 40 acres, it’s just one big circle and tends to be a little weedy. Even though it’s all sports despite its size, this lake is more suited for kayaks, paddle boarders and even some pontoon action. But all in all, this lake caught my eye because of the fishing scene. You may or may not know, but the best fishing lakes are private lakes that aren’t all sports. They tend to be less desirable, cheaper to live on, but the private aspect of it allows fish to grow since there’s not a public access where countless fishing competitions take place. Do you want to live on a lake that has access to torah lakes? Do you want to find a lake that has a restaurant or bar on it? How much yard do you require? How much parking do you need? Of course a lot of these questions aren’t “needs” per say, but if you have the budget to purchase a home on a lake, you might as well have the flexibility to pick and choose what the lake offers.

The last question, how much parking do you need? Is a HUGE one I never realized when my fiancé and I purchased our lake home. The two of us purchased this home under 1,000 square feet, on .15 acres with a driveway that could fit 3 cars most days, and 5 cars if we were REALLY pushing it. It was a mistake on our end to look past this, because obviously when you purchase a lake house, the goal is to have a lot of friends or family members over and enjoy the scenery, but if your driveway can only fit 2-3 cars, you could find yourself in a little dilemma. It wasn’t something we noticed until winter time and we were having a bunch of family and friends come over to play pond hockey. We ended up having to play Tetris all over our yard to make it work.

Some more questions to consider: what type of boat do you want? Do you want a lake with canals, or one that’s all open? Do you want a lake with a sand bar or a common area with games, concessions, etc.? It goes back to the lake being a sandy bottom or whether it’s full of cattails and lily pads, because that will highly influence the type of boat you get. Again, on my lake, the majority of homeowners have pontoon boats, and after a few laps around the lake, they are having to put the boat in forward and reverse constantly to try and get the weeds off the propeller. I can see the frustration in all of their situations, so be sure to heavily consider this. It’s easy to fall in love at a waterfront home showing, especially if you’ve never had one and look past lily pads and mucky bottoms thinking they’d be easy to clear and take care of, but believe me when I say this, they are not. You thought cutting your grass and maintaining your landscaping was a pain in the you know what, lakeshore maintenance is a different breed.

As far as a lake with a sand bar or common areas, this is a very important question too, because I have come to realize that the lakes that don’t have a nice sand bar area or common area beaches, tend to have less of a community feel to them. That might seem obvious, but to me it seems a little strange for all these people to live on the same lake, relatively close to each other, just to not have a relationship of any kind. Lake living is all about community, and if it’s not in your eyes, then you need to start looking at homes with quite a bit more acreage and tree coverage, because in Michigan, .15-.2 acres for a lake house is very common. There are lakes like Elizabeth Lake in Waterford Twp where the whole east side of the lake is one big common beach with concessions, or White lake, which has the White Lake Inn Bar, or Oxbow Lake which has the Sprader’s on the lake Bar. A lot of people focus their time and effort figuring out their wants and needs for the lake home in general, but never use that same method to figure out the lake they want. Once you do that, you’ll be able to really find a lake that fits well with you.

I was talking to a few clients the other day about lakes with canals vs. lakes that are wide open, and it’s a completely different way of waterfront living depending on which option you choose. If you get a lake with a canal, your view might not be as breathtaking because canals are typically pretty skinny, and houses will be on the other side. That’s the downside, the upside to it depending on what you’re planning to do with your lakefront home is the seclusion. Canals are typically no wake zones, so you’ll either have boats slowly coasting through or people in canoes and fishing boats casting the shorelines.

No wake zones are nice because it eliminates the irritation of speed boats speeding too close to shore to where all your water toys are heavily banging up against the dock or possibly floating away depending on if you tied them up or not. Open waterfront living tends to be noisier with all the boats driving by blaring their music, and the yards tend to be a lot less private, because obviously anyone on the lake that goes by can see everything that’s happening in your yard and home depending on if you have the shades down or not.

In my opinion, living in a canal is the best option for seclusion, quietness, and less irritation. Yes, you and the person across the canal might be able to see directly into each others backyards, but that’s one person opposed to a whole lake of people who go by. I’ve experienced both, my lake being open and my grandparents lake being in a canal. At my house when you’re in the backyard doing something, it always feels like the whole lake is staring at you. Obviously that’s probably not true at all, but the openness of it all has a higher probability.

At the end of the day, when it comes to finding the perfect lake for your waterfront home, it’s completely up to you. As long as you consider the questions I have laid out for you and truly dig deep into what’s important to you, you’ll find the right match. If you find yourself struggling to figure out what you want, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I would be happy to help with your decisions.

For those of you that are on a lake or have lived on the lake before, what other factors did I miss? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.

MENTIONED LINKS 🔗 →Knowing Your Water Rights:



Andrew McManamon is a Michigan REALTOR® with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty and provides real estate services to Buyers, Sellers and Investors throughout SE Michigan including Livingston County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, Genesee County & beyond. Andrew has become one of the rising stars of Michigan real estate agents. Prior to his real estate career Andrew was responsible for managing a senior living facility in Brighton, Michigan as a dining supervisor and an activities assistant. Andrew’s passion to help people is unlike any other, and he continues to strive to be best resource he can be. Andrew graduated from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan with a double major and currently resides in White Lake, Michigan.


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