Whoever said Kansas City is landlocked hasn’t taken a look at the homes gracing the shores of numerous lakes scattered throughout Kansas City. Whether you live on the Missouri side or the Kansas side, there is a home for you if living by the water is your dream. But how do you go about finding that home and learning more about living by the water? We spoke with Mark Alford, Realtor with Vortex Kansas City and Fox 4 Morning Show anchor, to find out more about living the lake life dream.
KCH&S: There seem to be an abundance of lakes that are sprinkled around town. Is it hard to find a home on one of Kansas City’s area lakes?
ALFORD: The first-tier (on the lake) homes ARE in hot demand. We’ve sold on Lake Winnebago where the new addition to the lake will provide much needed inventory, but lot prices are at a premium. Typically knowing a Realtor who’s sold lake homes will help you get a jump start on the buying competition – knowing not just what is currently on the market, but what’s ABOUT to come on the market.
KCH&S: The housing market still seems pretty hot. How soon before moving should one start looking into what’s available on the lake market?
ALFORD: A “quick close” is about four weeks, given the newer federal guidelines. Give yourself another two to three weeks to find the right lake house. Ask your agent for 15 day inspection period instead of the standard 10 days, as sometimes comparable properties are hard to come by. Your agent should know certified appraisers who specialize in lake front properties if there is any doubt as to the true value of a property.
KCH&S: How should one start deciding on which lake is right for them?
ALFORD: Start by asking yourself what your goal is in living on a lake. Boating? Skiing? Wake or no wake? Each lake has different rules for boating, swimming, fishing. Ask your Realtor for links to the HOA. Decide how big of a lake you want to be on. Lake Tapawingo, for example, is a great community but a smaller lake at 88 acres. Some lakes also have clauses in which adjacent property owners have first right of refusal, even if you come in with an approved offer as a buyer.
KCH&S: How do you determine what you are really buying when it says it is a waterfront home?
ALFORD: Don’t depend on general knowledge of property boundaries. Neighbors and sellers could be wrong and you could end up in a quarrelsome, worse yet, LEGAL mess. A lake property we listed had two accesses to the sellers boat dock, but only one access is on sellers property. The current neighbors cooperate with the sellers on the additional access, but “friendliness” is not transferable in a property transaction. When in doubt, invest in a stake survey. Will Rogers said, “good fences make good neighbors.” In the Midwest though, I’ve found that just KNOWING proper boundary lines suffices.
KCH&S: If boats are allowed on the lake, can items such as the dock be figured into the home financing?
ALFORD: Yes, boat docks are typically part of the real property, much like an outbuilding or garage unless specifically excluded in the sale of the property. They can add quite a bit of value depending on their construction, aluminum in particular. Get them inspected though to make sure they are sound! And it’s a big safety concern if they have electricity and kids will be swimming nearby. Have a certified inspector test for any potential hazards.
KCH&S: Are there different or additional costs when purchasing a home that sits adjacent to the water?
ALFORD: Typically shoreline and lake upkeep is included in HOA fees. Some neighborhoods will have a separate assessment for properties actually ON the lake, first tier. If the shoreline is natural rock, upkeep should be minimal. However, one lake house we listed two years ago had large stacked stone forming a walled bank. The large stones are slowly slipping into the lake itself and the homeowners are now having to split the expensive costs to reset them. Again, this is why a Realtor is SO important to help you in this process. “For sale by owner” properties SOUND like a good way to save money, but could cost you more in long run. Even if you find a lake-side FSBO, typically the sellers will let you bring in a buyer’s agent, and pay them the 3% commission.