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Choosing Waterfront Real Estate in the Upper Peninsula

Posted by statewidebeta on August 29, 2021

Choosing Waterfront Real Estate in the Upper Peninsula

Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula offers an amazing lifestyle. It’s a true paradise for people who love the great outdoors. Whether seeking to buy a log home in Iron County, a large acre parcel in Watersmeet, or a cute cabin along the Manistique River, buyers have numerous options to buy premium real estate in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). 

Homebuyers who are looking to buy waterfront property have many options. Whether they want to reside on a small lake, such as Torch Lake, invest in property situated alongside a river, or buy a home on the majestic Lake Michigan or Lake Superior, there is something for everyone. 

Why Waterfront Property in Northern Michigan?

Before looking at waterfront real estate listings, it’s essential to understand the difference between “waterfront” and “water views.” The former means the home is located where the water is accessible, although it’s always important to double-check to ensure the listing is accurate. Some listings may use terms associated with lakefront property incorrectly. In other words, instead of being situated on a lake, the property might align with an unusable body of water, such as a retention pond. “Water views” doesn’t necessarily mean the property is waterfront, it could mean it offers views from the house that include being able to see the water.

Before initiating 

Buyers should always ask questions before deciding to buy property in Copper Country, such as Houghton, Baraga, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon Counties. This will help them ensure they’ll be getting the lifestyle or investment lake frontage property they seek. Important questions to consider include:

  • Is fishing allowed in the water? What, if any, restrictions are in place?
  • Are water vehicles permitted in the water? For instance, can residents use their jet skis or paddle boats?
  • Are residents permitted to use boats? What, if any, rules exist about boat size or speed?
  • Do local zoning (or other) laws allow homeowners to build out into the water? If so, how far?

Before investing in a dream lifestyle, buyers want to make sure they can actually live their dreams. Understanding what homeowners are allowed to do will help determine which waterfront area is the best fit.

Does Waterfront Property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Yield a Good ROI?

Waterfront property typically yields a better ROI than regular acreage since it’s usually in high demand. Essentially, lakefront and riverfront property almost never depreciates. Northern Michigan is no exception. However, much depends upon a buyer’s lifestyle and goals for their property. Regardless of the reason for investing in Michigan Real Estate, buyers can’t go wrong owning waterfront property in the beautiful UP.

Studies indicate, on average, lakefront property increases value by 25%, and riverfront by 24%. Waterfront property adds a beautiful aesthetic to the land and enhances a home’s landscape, both of which boost the value of a property. Furthermore, being a rural part of the country, there is little to no chance in the Copper Country that high-rise buildings and other structures will ever interrupt water views, unlike where you’ll find occurring in other places.

That being said, local rules and regulations can impact ROI on Michigan waterfront homes. This typically depends upon what activities are permitted on each body of water. Home seekers need to understand that rules will undoubtedly differ in properties located along the Great Lakes instead of those located near private lakes. Regulations regarding lakefront property may also differ amongst individual cities, such as Houghton, Hancock, and Lake Linden.

Additionally, it’s important to consider individual waterfront locations if seeking to use the property as an investment one, such as with VRBO or Airbnb. Some of the smaller, unincorporated communities, such as Michigamme, might not attract the same level of attention as larger tourist destinations, such as L’Anse, command. Yet, Michigamme might be the perfect location for a primary or second home. ROI is directly linked to the buyer’s goals.

Primary Reasons to Start the Loan Process Early

Individuals seeking to purchase real estate in the Upper Peninsula should begin to explore the loan process immediately. The reason for this is two-fold. 

The first reason is that waterfront homes and acres typically come at a premium and, to qualify for a mortgage, the standards are higher than for other types of properties. Buyers should have all their proverbial ducks in a row, so they don’t experience delays in the mortgage process.

The second reason why buyers want to start the loan process early is that if they wait too long, they may find their mortgage approval takes much longer than they want. This means they risk losing out on their dream property because another buyer who already has a secured loan approval moves in and quickly seals the deal.

Enjoying Your Waterfront Property in the Upper Peninsula

Before purchasing a lakefront home or vacant land in the UP, buyers should consider the type of lifestyle they envision themselves enjoying. Is the plan to become year-round residents or seasonal visitors? Winter and summer recreational opportunities are plentiful and, whether it’s ice fishing and skating—or swimming and jet skiing—there is a waterfront property for everyone. Suppose winter sports or summer recreational opportunities are the goals. In that case, the type of waterfront property chosen will be critical due to the rules associated with the different bodies of water in the UP.

Hunting and fishing are huge in The Copper Country. Buyers who intend to fish for whitefish in the Great Lakes or try their hand at catching walleye and smallmouth bass in Lake Gogebic will want to consider the type of fishing they want to do before investing in a property. They’ll also probably want to avoid lakes that are primarily used for speedboating. However, if the latter is on the agenda, buyers will want to make certain the waterfront property they buy allows speedboats.

People who are primarily interested in a seasonal retreat but plan to rent their homes a good chunk of the year should be sure to check for any potential rules and regulations in the towns where they are considering buying property. Some municipalities may have restrictions on short-term rentals, and regulations vary throughout the UP. However, tourism is huge here, and chances are if the goal is to rent waterfront property to visitors, options will be found.

When it comes to home improvements, owners typically have the right to do so. However, the State of Michigan takes preserving its beautiful lakes and rivers seriously and, while it essentially allows local governments to set the laws, some are state-wide. Homeowners with property adjacent to the Great Lakes often have to abide by different rules for improvement, such as docks, seawalls, etc., than those who own property on smaller lakes. Michigan has “Riparian rights” in place, giving owners the freedom to use the water for non-commercial purposes, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of other riparians.

Work With a Michigan Waterfront Specialist 

Whether you’re actively looking for property alongside one of Michigan’s beautiful lakes or rivers or just dipping your toes in to explore the idea, the realtors at Statewide of Houghton are here to help! Our agents are locals and have a genuine love of the UP—each member of our team has a solid connection to our wonderful area of Michigan and is intimately familiar with The Copper Country and surrounding areas. 

Our primary focus is on our customers, and we’ll do everything we can to help you identify the right waterfront home. Or, if you prefer to build your own house, we have numerous listings for vacant property.

Contact one of our UP Michigan land brokers today by phone, email, or fax. Or drop by our realty office and have a cup of coffee with us. We’d love to talk with you about your real estate goals and are happy to share a variety of available property options.

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