Everything You Need to Know About Buying Waterfront Property in NB

Is it any surprise that “Water Recreation" garners a main page on New Braunfels’ city website? Though the town of New Braunfels itself holds just over 60,000 permanent residents, its sparkling waterways host over 3 million tourists per year. On any given summer afternoon, the banks of the Comal River bear witness to thousands of happy Texans floating by on inner tubes with friends and family, sporting sunburns and Yeti coolers full of cold Shiner. 

Besides the flowing riverways of the Guadalupe and the Comal Rivers, Canyon Lake, Lake McQueeney, and Lake Dunlap offer everything you need to “make a splash” (pun very much intended). Whether you’re a longtime resident, a regular visitor, or anything in between, waterfront property is a seriously hot commodity in these equally hot Texas summers. There’s a huge difference between being standing in line to float the river and letting it flow through your backyard. For those who want to make this a more permanent part of their lifestyle, owning waterfront property is a seriously incredible opportunity.

But, though enjoying your waterfront property may be relaxing, purchasing it can be something of a headache. Waterfront property is not something to be purchased on a whim. Read on for a comprehensive list of facts, questions, and considerations (and download our free Buyer's Guide!) to make while in the market for a lakeside or riverside home.

Find the right agent with the right experience

While all of our licensed REALTOR®s are experts in the ways of New Braunfels real estate, not all agents have experience and expertise concerning waterfront property. We highly recommend finding an agent who a) knows the ins and outs of the New Braunfels area and b) understands the subtleties and nuances of buying and selling waterfront property.

What use do you want out of your waterfront

Everyone buying waterfront property has a different mental image of waterfront life. What do you see when you visualize your new property? The first thing we recommend is to get on the same page with your spouse or REALTOR® concerning what use you want most out of your property. If one of you envisions a relaxing, trickling view while the other dreams of water skiing adventures, it’s best to remedy these differences early. Whether you’re boating, floating, or fishing, there’s a property for everyone around here.

You can be responsible for water upkeep

Be sure to understand your responsibilities as a waterfront homeowner. You might be responsible to a homeowner’s association or even a lake association. Find out what kind of upkeep and maintenance will be on your shoulders. Your responsibility to manage the shoreline could affect things like your ability to clear trees or build a pier.

Not all waterfronts are created equal

The most important part of your waterfront home is arguably less “home” and more “waterfront”. While structure and layout do matter, the actual makeup of the waterfront has the potential to make or break the lot. Just like we described above, it can be easy to lump “waterfront property” into one broad, sweeping category...but we’ve learned that it’s crucial to take a close look at the actual details. What is the shoreline like? Is it rocky or muddy? Is the terrain suitable for children or leisure activities? What is the depth of the water? Is the incline gradual or is there a steep drop-off point? If you think a waterfront price is too good to be true, the reason could be buried offshore. 

Views versus Privacy: Decide how much of each you want

The idea of gorgeous lakefront views is certainly a two-way window. If you can see the water stretching out before you, full of boaters and swimmers and activity, chances are they can see you too. Decide early on if you’re more keen on a private waterfront property or a high-traffic one. Naturally, the high-traffic areas are usually high-traffic for a reason: they’re beautiful, easily accessible, and conducive to activity.

Though it seems counterintuitive, the more expensive waterfront lots are those set back a bit further from the water. Again, this will matter more to some than others. Keep your ideal privacy levels in mind when touring waterfront homes! And remember that a good pair of opaque curtains can also do the trick...unless you’re keen on watching the sunrise in your boxers. No judgment from us.

There’s a difference: Waterfront v Waterview

Remember that there’s a difference between waterfront, water access, and water view properties. When purchasing your home, make sure you’re aware of what you do and do not own!

Be aware of the current state of the home

While location is arguably the most important element of a waterfront property, the actual structure of the home still matters a great deal...especially its location on the water. Take into account the primary building materials of the home: Is it comprised of wood, metal, stone, etc? How will these various materials react to the water? How weather-resistant are the home’s features? From the level of humidity to bugs to the potential for flooding, proximity to a lake or river can lead to property damage. The key to avoiding such a headache lies in understanding the property from top to bottom. We recommend hiring a qualified home inspector with an excellent reputation.

Look into loans early

When considering applicants for a loan, lenders tend to be a little pickier when it comes to waterfront properties...especially since jumbo mortgage loans are often required. Since these loans take more time to get approved, it is highly recommended that you begin the mortgage process and potentially even get pre-approved before you start shopping around for a waterfront property.

Know what insurance you need:

When it comes to insurance, policies can be a headache...but they don’t have to be! Besides general homeowner’s insurance, you’ll likely be required to obtain a flood insurance policy, and possibly even other types of property protection. Check early with your lender to see what specific type of hazard insurance your property will require. Try and find out the property’s water level fluctuation, history of flooding, floodplain restrictions, shoreline type, etc.

Vacation home or primary residence?

Naturally, this question greatly affects the way you’ll approach buying a waterfront home. If you aren’t planning to live in the home year-round, you’ll want to find a relatively low-maintenance property...unless you’re planning to make regular visits for maintenance and upkeep. Things like winter weather and school districts won’t be as much of a concern if your waterfront property is a secondary home!

Understand your “Riparian Rights”

What are riparian rights? Though you may technically own the land upon which a waterway flows, you don’t own the water itself. Bummer, right? This is where riparian rights come in. Under this principle, you are fully allowed to make use of the water as it flows through or over your property. This is great news if you’re considering swimming, boating, and fishing to be a regular part of your waterfront lifestyle. Be sure to ask the seller as well as your REALTOR® about the gradient boundary of the property (the dividing line between public and private ownership), as well as rules concerning public access.

We’re serious: don’t let yourself drown in the process of buying a waterfront home. Click here to download this FREE Buyer’s Guide, customized for the New Braunfels buyer. You’ll find valuable information about finding a REALTOR®, connecting with lenders, making an offer, closing costs, and way more. Let us be your guide!