Buying or selling a home on the water? Consider these six factors that are used to judge a waterfront home’s true value.
People often ask me what goes into the pricing of a waterfront home. It’s an excellent – and important – question for both buyers and sellers.
But if each property is unique, how does one establish a waterfront home’s true value? Generally, realtors at Mr. Waterfront judge six categories in a home valuation. For buyers, considering these six factors will help you find your perfect match. For sellers, these factors can help you understand what buyers are looking for, and you can highlight your property’s best features to help you get top dollar.
Below are the six “secret factors” that can help you better understand a waterfront home’s value. We should know — we’ve been helping buyers and sellers of prime waterfront property for nearly 30 years. Remember: What’s most important for you, whether you’re buying or selling, is finding the right fit for your “dream home” — not somebody else’s.
1. Water view
This has one of the biggest impacts on the price of a waterfront property. Views are evaluated by their width (distance from left to right) and depth (how far into the distance you can see from the home). But views are subjective, and sometimes they come with tradeoffs. For instance, the widest and deepest views of an Annapolis waterfront property tend to be on the Chesapeake Bay — but the Bay’s water is often shallow and rough, not well suited to large boats with deep drafts.
2. Water depth
Overall, the Chesapeake Bay is a shallow body of water. In this area, a dock with 5 to 6 feet of water is considered a “deep-water dock.” This depth might accommodate shallow-draft sailboats and power boats up to 50 feet in length. But if you own (or want to own) a larger or deeper-draft vessel, this won’t do the trick; you’ll want to invest more in a home with a deeper slip. In contrast, a home with a shallower dock could be perfect for a family who loves kayaking, canoeing, or jet skiing — and going shallow will likely save you money, too.
Another Annapolis rule of thumb: The closer the property is to City Dock in downtown, the higher its value. You can almost draw concentric circles with City Dock at the center and calculate a reduction with each circle away from the heart of the city. For instance, a $2 million home in Deale would probably sell for closer to $4 million in Eastport. Potential buyers can use Google maps to roughly estimate home values using this rule.
4. Home Condition
It’s true for both waterfront and non-waterfront properties alike: houses in good condition almost always sell for more. Move-in-ready homes are appealing to buyers who don’t have the time or desire to renovate. So if you’re a seller, it is imperative to get your home as show-ready as possible before coming on the market. When interviewing real estate agents, sellers should ask if the agent provides staging services to help with this process. (Mr. Waterfront not only offers these services, we pride ourselves on them.) On the other hand, buyers looking for a bargain should be shopping for a home that might need a little work.
Because each waterfront property is unique, it’s not possible to strictly price by square footage alone. However, larger homes do tend to command a higher value. Buyers should look for waterfront property sized to match their needs. To do that, make sure you understand what you’re after. Is it a 2-bedroom condo with a boat slip for a weekend crash-pad, or is it a 4-bedroom home that can accommodate extended family, extra guests, or a work-from-home setup? Pin down the answer and narrow your search accordingly.
It’s not just about the size of the house. The size of the lot matters a ton, too. Many waterfront buyers looking for privacy are dismayed when they have to choose between either a smaller or extra-expensive property. I often suggest to these buyers that their privacy objectives can be achieved at a much lower price with landscaping and hardscaping. Fencing, fast-growing evergreens, and screened porches can offer privacy on smaller properties. That’s not to say you can’t find a large waterfront property with pristine privacy. You may still be able to achieve your objective and stay on-budget by looking at properties further from downtown.
Remember these six important factors to waterfront property value – your dream home with a mix of all six is out there, waiting to be discovered.