The Best Time of Year to Buy a Lake House

Thomas O'Shaughnessy's Photo
By Thomas O'Shaughnessy Updated April 7, 2023


Whether you're looking for the perfect summer home or want to live near the water all year long, buying a lake house is probably something you've been wanting to do for a while — and have possibly been saving up for. Here's the best time of year to start house hunting if you're looking to get a great deal on your new waterfront property.

best time to buy lakefront home

Always dreamt of owning a lake house? We don't blame you. The thought of waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the water with endless opportunities to fish, swim, and take the boat out for a spin sounds almost too good to be true.

If you're ready to make lake house living your reality, here's what you should know about the best time to start the home buying process for waterfront property.

Best Time of Year to Buy a Lake House

According to Zillow, spring is when you'll see the highest number of newly listed homes. If you're looking for a large selection of properties to choose from, spring could be the ideal time of year to start house hunting.

This logic doesn't necessarily ring true for the waterfront property market. Buying a lake house is very different for several reasons when compared to your traditional purchase. If there are too many waterfront properties on the market at prices that seem like they're good deals, it could be a sign of a weak market.

When it comes to the buying and selling of lakefront property, 39% of sales take place between September and the end of the year. Research shows that the most optimal time to buy lakefront property is anywhere between October and the end of December.

Consider this: somebody who owns a lake house and is planning to sell is likely to hold onto it for one more summer, choosing to wait until after Labor Day to put it on the market. Due to this factor, there is sure to be a higher amount of lake houses on the market for you to choose from in the fall.

It's also important to know what the lake property look like "offseason." This is especially important if you are planning to live there all year long, or if you intend to rent it out when not in use.

Winter months are the best time to get a worst case scenario snapshot of the property. Keep in mind that if you like it in the winter, you're guaranteed to love it all year long — especially during those hot summer months when the lake is glistening from your kitchen window.

The Best Places to Buy a Lake House

So, you're ready to start the next chapter of your life kicking back by the lake all day; but how do you choose the perfect spot? We've laid out five waterfront areas that would be a perfect place to buy a lake house in.

1. Traverse City, MI

With its close proximity to Lake Michigan, Traverse City is a highly sought after waterfront destination. Lake lovers here have plenty of home options, including beachfront condos starting around $100,000, or four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes down the street from a lake that are priced around $200,000.

Traverse City was ranked one of the best in the state, according to Coastal Living, and the country, according to personal finance site WalletHub.

2. Port Clinton, OH

This small town of 6,000 residents is one of the better-kept secrets among fans of lake recreation due to its prime location on one of the Great Lakes.

Port Clinton is located on a peninsula off the western end of Lake Erie, with a half-dozen lakefront parks, as well as the three Bass islands and Kelley's Island. The area also attracts tourists with its local mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, and antique stores in nearby towns.

You can find a few reasonably priced condos on the market in Port Clinton; one-bedroom condos right on Lake Erie are typically priced just under $135,000, while modest beach houses can be found in the mid-$300,000 range.

3. Brainerd, MN

If you're looking for an area with plenty of water, look no further than Brainerd, MN. The area houses more than 500 lakes within a 25-mile radius.

And you guessed it; waterfront properties are not hard to come by here. Lake houses typically range from spacious four-bedroom houses with private docks on the larger, 500-plus-acre lakes that go for about $450,000 to smaller, two-bedroom cabins with shared beach access for about $200,000.

4. Gardnerville Ranchos, NV

This county lines a good portion of Lake Tahoe, and is recognized as a popular lakefront living option. As an added bonus, this is a great place to go skiing. If you enjoy winter and summer sports alike, Gardnerville Ranchos, Nevada is the perfect spot for you to buy a lake house in.

5. Sonora, CA

If you want to bask under the sun all year long, California is the opportune location for your lake house. Sonora, CA gets about 260 days of sunshine a year and is the closest city to Yosemite (the crown jewel of the national parks system). Outdoor lovers will find great pleasure in owning a lake house here.

4 Ways to Get a Great Deal On a Lake House

1. Find a Great Real Estate Agent with Waterfront Property Experience

Partnering with a local trusted buyer's agent holds such a high value when searching for the perfect lake house. They know the ins and outs of waterfront properties and can negotiate a great deal on your desired lake house. Buyers looking to find their dream waterfront property for the right price should never go it alone.

Learn More: What Does a Real Estate Agent Do for a Buyer?

2. Assess Your Needs and Lay Out Your Goals

We can't stress enough the importance of working with your agent to determine what you need and want in a property before getting the ball rolling. Setting your budget and putting together a solid wish list for your waterfront home are the first steps you'll want to take. From there, you can begin searching for the perfect lake house.

3. Find a Lender and Secure Financing

Given your specific goals and financial situation, your agent can help you evaluate and determine a financing option that works best for you. Keep in mind that the closing process typically takes around 30 days; something to take into account if you're looking to move into your lake house by a specific timeframe.

4. Negotiate for the Best Possible Price

Once you've chosen your dream waterfront property, your agent will help you make and submit an offer. After the home inspection is done with, your buyer's agent will pull out their finest negotiating skills to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.

Learn More: How to Find a Buyer's Agent That's a Good Negotiator

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