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Lake House, thoughts/regrets/recommendations?

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mbshaw88 View Drop Down
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    Posted: May-26-2020 at 11:17am
My parents are bouncing around the idea of buying a lake house for their upcoming retirement and growing number of grand kids. We live in the Chicago burbs so WI is the most likely candidate as that's where we've done the most vacationing. I thought it would be good to hear from some of the folks on here who probably have gone down the same vacation home search.

Some questions they had:

What did you look for in the house?
What did you look for in the body of water?
Did you use it as much as you thought?
Was the maintenance as much as you expected?
How long of a drive did you limit your search to?

For the Wisconsin folks, do you recommend any areas to check out?

-Matt
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tryathlete Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 2:39pm
What is their budget?

Big factor #1
How far and whatever else has a lot to do with budget.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8122pbrainard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 3:08pm


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbshaw88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 3:48pm
Originally posted by tryathlete tryathlete wrote:

What is their budget?

Big factor #1
How far and whatever else has a lot to do with budget.


Yeah I know posing these questions without a budget was too open-ended, but still thought it worthwhile to hear some input.. I would be comfortable sending them realtor links in the 400k-750k range, and then they could then see quality vs distance, etc.


Originally posted by 8122pbrainard 8122pbrainard wrote:

Some to look at up here.


Thanks Pete! Some of those are super nice!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gary S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 4:42pm
Originally posted by 8122pbrainard 8122pbrainard wrote:

Some to look at up here.


I like the pictures on this one. Listing is 32 days old,ice still on lake, snow still on ground. 11 month boat storage will add up.....link
Lakes should be ice free by August right Pete?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hollywood Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 4:45pm
Summer is really the “off” season up there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8122pbrainard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 5:02pm
Originally posted by Gary S Gary S wrote:

[QUOTE=8122pbrainard]
I like the pictures on this one. Listing is 32 days old,ice still on lake, snow still on ground. 11 month boat storage will add up.....link
Lakes should be ice free by August right Pete?

Gary,
Did you expect anything different? It is northern Wisconsin.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 67 ski nat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 6:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DVskier Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 6:50pm
Frozen tundra, to each his own.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Orlando76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 7:35pm
I’ve been looking for a weekend fish camp type set up on rural Florida coast. Hadn’t been able to find the right timing on property for right price that we both agree on. Times awasting and boys are growing so we reluctantly signed a yearly lease on a piece in a good old fashioned Florida flamingo trailer park on the water for time being. By settling to lease for awhile we realized a few things we didn’t consider before. I suggest thinking about rainy day activities, social activities, things to consider when you’re laid up sick in bed, boat is broken kinda day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Orlando76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 7:37pm
Originally posted by Hollywood Hollywood wrote:

Summer is really the “off” season up there.
every season is the off season up there because you gotta be “a little off” to live up there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8122pbrainard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-26-2020 at 7:45pm
Originally posted by Orlando76 Orlando76 wrote:

Originally posted by Hollywood Hollywood wrote:

Summer is really the “off” season up there.
every season is the off season up there because you gotta be “a little off” to live up there.

Thanks Todd!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nautiquehunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-27-2020 at 7:24am
Right idea wrong location. Move south about 8-900 miles . No snow,less wind ,warm water and a 8 plus boat season.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote burban65 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-27-2020 at 9:55am
My limited inputs with the understanding budget will definitely be a factor:
Low yard maintenance
Low exterior maintenance ie: no exterior painting
If wanting a lower level / walk out / basement - look for a place that has natural / gravity drain to the lake (you don't want to be worrying about a sump pump not working when you are not there)
Ample parking
Good swim area - beach area off of shoreline or good area off of end of dock
A place on an idle only lake but with access (short distance) via channels to larger lake with no limitations. If not an option and lake is very busy look for a place in a cove / bay area of the lake (good sea wall a must)
3 or more full baths
If the seller has boats / lifts use them as negotiation variables (especially if you want them or if you don't if you can sell them)
3 season area or covered deck area facing the lake
Private lake - if large enough lake and budget would allow
Neighbors that take care of their place, dock, boats etc...
And of course........a few of those "key" items that 67 Ski Nat mentioned
When it comes right down to it any place at the lake is better than not having one at.
Good luck!




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbshaw88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-27-2020 at 10:39am
Originally posted by burban65 burban65 wrote:

My limited inputs with the understanding budget will definitely be a factor:
Low yard maintenance
Low exterior maintenance ie: no exterior painting
If wanting a lower level / walk out / basement - look for a place that has natural / gravity drain to the lake (you don't want to be worrying about a sump pump not working when you are not there)
Ample parking
Good swim area - beach area off of shoreline or good area off of end of dock
A place on an idle only lake but with access (short distance) via channels to larger lake with no limitations. If not an option and lake is very busy look for a place in a cove / bay area of the lake (good sea wall a must)
3 or more full baths
If the seller has boats / lifts use them as negotiation variables (especially if you want them or if you don't if you can sell them)
3 season area or covered deck area facing the lake
Private lake - if large enough lake and budget would allow
Neighbors that take care of their place, dock, boats etc...
And of course........a few of those "key" items that 67 Ski Nat mentioned
When it comes right down to it any place at the lake is better than not having one at.
Good luck!




Appreciate the input!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote burban65 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-27-2020 at 11:06am
I forgot to mention a regret:

Not getting a lake place / moving to the lake on a permanent basis earlier in my life.

I am sure others can attest to the above as well.

The statement "Everything is better at the lake / on the water" is spot on!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote M3Fan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-28-2020 at 8:55am
We pulled the trigger during the last big recession in 2009. Northern WI. Went in with our parents on it. Twas a good time to buy something like that as they were being unloaded at the time and the vacation home market still hasn't totally recovered from that IMO.

Pros:
Kids have grown up with it, they know no other way
Always something to think about or look forward to mentally, I love that. Like in your mind you can always know that there's "going up to the cabin" to look forward to and think about fondly as a static happy place
You don't have to drag all your stuff up there every time you go since a lot of it is already there

Cons:
You do get more "used" to being up there so the sheer novelty of the whole thing wears down a bit. When we used to rent and only get 1 week up there we looked forward to it like crazy, now it's old hat and to me that's kinda sad in a way
In mortgage interest alone we could rent a new, nice place every year on a different lake if we wanted to, I do think about that occasionally
Can cause family/friend strain if you share the house with other family members or friends, really I do wish we had our own place vs. sharing it with our parents as part-owners so even if it's a stretch to do it, involving as FEW co-owners as possible is highly recommended.
Taxes and maintenance are generally really reasonable, that's been a nice surprise

Considerations:
- Separate lake vs. Chain. Major pros and cons to each, no wrong answer here but it's important to figure out
- No fisherman's frontage crap. A major criteria for us was you must be able to jump off the dock and swim vs. jumping into muck
- Lake type: watch out for seepage lakes that can turn into ponds in a cyclical fashion, in 2009 a lot of properties we looked at on seepage lakes were a thousand feet from the water because there was no water. Now those lakes are back up but NFW I'd buy property on them knowing what I've seen. Same with dam-ed lakes which the DNR can fluctuate water levels on at their whim
- I like sand bottomed lakes and level frontage, I never understood these cabins that have 8000 stairs down to the water
- Ample depth for boat lift if needed
- Fussy lake associations and associated rules
- Location on the lake, E/W/S/N. Look at prevailing winds over time and keep in mind sunset/sunrise if that's important to you. The north side of our lake is usually windy and also gets ice flows which destroy permanent docks. The south side is always glass, never has seaweed blown into it, and everyone has beautiful permanent docks. Of course we're on north side and that's definitely annoying.

More as I think of it.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbshaw88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-28-2020 at 9:16am

Wow thanks for all that insight! That's exactly that kind of info I was looking for.

Quote
In mortgage interest alone we could rent a new, nice place every year on a different lake if we wanted to, I do think about that occasionally


THIS... So this is probably our biggest hurdle to overcome before getting really serious at buying. We could easily go VRBO and rent a nicer, bigger place, multiple times a year, at changing locations and still come out spending less.

The problem with renting is the prime times of the year/holiday weekends are always booked or need to be booked 10+ months in advance. So you pay less but you lose that "go whenever the hell you want" aspect. Hard thing to decide for sure
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zwoobah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May-28-2020 at 10:35am
-Do they plan to use it year round or seasonally? Heat and insulation in an older second home can be way out of date. If you plan to leave the place heated but infrequently occupied in the winter, figure out how to shut off the water and install wifi thermostats so you get a warning if the heat dies.

-Water quality. Many lake houses have point or artesian wells. You may need to plan on a water filtration system.

-Dam controlled lakes are great. No flooding and the water goes down in winter, so you don't have to pull your dock out of the water.

-Make sure to visit the property on a nice sunny saturday afternoon. You'll get a good sense of how busy the lake will be at peak.

-If possible, a detached garage with a bunk room upstairs is a wonderful asset. You'll always be having visitors and this gives everyone more space.

-It is impossible to have too many bathrooms. You'll always have visitors. Outdoor showers are great in the summer.

-VRBO and Air BnB may be able to generate a lot of revenue for you. I rent one of my properties through Air BnB and it has worked very well. This can offset some of your costs. Yes, the mortgage interest could rent a very nice property every year. Long term, the appreciation on a lake house property should way outpace the costs.

-Look closely at the mortgage interest deduction tax code. You may be better pulling equity out of your primary home and taking a smaller or no mortgage on a second home. Talk with your CPA. If you rent the property and meet certain income thresholds you may also be able to factor in depreciation every year - meaning it will operate at a "loss" and you'll save on taxes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8122pbrainard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-03-2020 at 7:47am
It's great on the lake.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Orlando76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-03-2020 at 8:09am
Originally posted by 8122pbrainard 8122pbrainard wrote:

It's great on the lake.

So Petey, what’s the air and water temps? Here, 90 air and surface temp in Gulf of Mexico has been 85, and that’s at 8:30am. It’s a tough life but I’ll keep living it a bit longer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 8122pbrainard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-03-2020 at 8:20am
Todd,
The air temp hit 90 yesterday. Broke the record of 89. The water is still on the cool side at 66. Today the forecast is for 81 air and low humidity.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Orlando76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-03-2020 at 8:45am
Low humidity and 90? Let the record show I’m jealous of those in northern Wisconsin.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gary S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-03-2020 at 10:00am
If he’s not standing in the picture with today’s newspaper....... Trust but verify Todd. Any “birds” you may see in any pictures are actually mosquitoes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nauti Gator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-29-2020 at 11:19pm
At the top of the list for me was distance. I wanted a lake house within 1 hour drive of my home. If I had that - I knew we would use it. Ended up with a great place with a white sand beach only 1 hour away. Lots of family time and memories. Girlfriend says its the best purchase I ever made. Absolutely no regrets.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gary S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-30-2020 at 9:39am
Hey Todd Chicago weatherman said yesterday that Chicago tied Miami with heat and humidity!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Orlando76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-30-2020 at 10:05am
Originally posted by Gary S Gary S wrote:

Hey Todd Chicago weatherman said yesterday that Chicago tied Miami with heat and humidity!
and they’re tied in being raunchy too.
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