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Buying and Selling Waterfront Property

Buying and Selling Waterfront Property

When buying a traditional house, the focus is very much on the structure and design. However, with waterfront properties, a great premium is set for the value of the land. So getting the geography of your dream home is just as important as the style and design of the house.


Selling a waterfront property is much different to selling a traditional home. If you decide to buy or sell your waterfront home, here are some tips that will help you to achieve a successful outcome.

It is critical that you engage the services of an agent you are comfortable with and that agent has experience with waterfront sales. You do not want to list with an agent that is going to post your home online and pray that it sells. The right agent will know how to sell the waterfront lifestyle that your home offers, and not just the structure.

You would think that waterfront homes should essentially sell themselves. Unfortunately these days, they do not. Allow the buyer to experience that relaxed lifestyle on a private beach. To achieve this, there may be a need for a bit staging to make a property more desirable, such as placing beach chairs, umbrellas, boats, inflatable swans in the pool, and a barbeque. Do not leave it to the buyer’s imagination.

In any home sale, you have to be on the same page with your real estate agent if you are going to sell your home at a great price without too many hassles. This relationship is even more critical when you are marketing a waterfront property, as there are many technical aspects that need to be conveyed to astute waterfront buyers.

The experienced agent must know the ins-and-outs of selling waterfront property in order to handle buyer queries. Such knowledge should include information on accessibility by water, revetment walls, flood and insurance issues, rules relating to jetties and boat ramps, and what types of fish or marine life the buyer can expect to catch or see from the shoreline.

Your agent should also be familiar with the competition in the area by visiting and reviewing all the other homes of the same caliber. With a limited number of high-end buyers, your agent may need to go head-to-head and feature-for-feature with another property a premium buyer is considering.

Assist your agent to pen the written description of the property they intend to use when marketing your property. This includes a list of the same things that turned you on to the home when you bought it, and the reasons why you loved living in the house, that should be conveyed in the marketing material. Ensure your agent selects the most flattering photos of your home and insist on including video footage for interstate and international buyers to view. Remember, a picture tells a thousand words.

A great real estate agent understands that quality buyers are interested in the water access of the property. As such, the buyers often search for the right property from the water, so insist on a “for sale” sign on your water’s edge.

In today’s market, the price of the property is one of the many deciding factors. If you price your home right, it will sell. If it is over-priced, then it is going to sit on the market for an extended period of time and attract the wrong reputation. Buyers may begin to believe there is something wrong with it because it has not sold yet. The most common method of determining a reasonable selling price is to undertake a comparative market analysis by review the recent sale price of neighbouring properties, and then adjust accordingly, based on differing criteria such as location, views, frontage and amenities. Pricing your property too low before an auction is going to cause potential problems with disgruntled buyers claiming the agents were under-quoting.

Your buyer is paying a premium for the waterfront visibility, so ensure that trees, bushes, shrubs, pot plants, sheds, or equipment do not obstruct the water views. These should be trimmed back or moved to make way for that gorgeous view. Another simple and common sense way to increase visibility is to have the windows cleaned inside and out.

Most buyers looking for a waterfront property are doing so because of the body of water or the access to water. It is a good idea to make any minor repairs required to your jetty, pontoon, boathouse, and boat exterior. A potential buyer is going to visit your waterfront structures to evaluate potential difficulties and ensure its safe.

On the Gold Coast, recent changes to council laws make the responsibility of the ageing government-built revetment walls that of the home owner, so insure the walls are in good condition or seek an assessment from an expert as part of your due diligence.


Buying a home is always complicated. But adding the term “waterfront” to your acquisition makes it even more complex to understand and decide.

If you are going to move into a waterfront property, you need to develop a detailed understand of these types of properties before actually buying one. If you ask yourself all the right questions, it could possibly be that you are not suited to a waterfront property, or perhaps the lifestyle you are looking for does not necessarily have to be in a waterfront home. If needed, an agent who is an expert in waterfront properties will also be beneficial for a buyer. In such a case, the same qualifications for a seller’s agent apply to a buyer’s agent.

You might think you have found a great deal on a waterfront property only to later realise your home is two hours by boat from the ocean where you were intending on going for fishing. Or your waterfront mansion is built on very shallow waters, or that the beach at low tide is actually rocks, or even worse that your waterfront is actually a lake and there is no boat access to the river, Broadwater, bay or ocean. (Now, don’t laugh as it does happen all the time!)

In some cases, low bridges will affect your boat access. Narrowing canals and waterways mean that water pressure causes fast currents, making docking or ramp access dangerous or impossible.

Many residential waterfront suburbs of Australia were built on flood plains, and as such can be vulnerable to flooding, which may actually be ok as long as you know what to check for before buying. You should first determine the previous floodwater height that occurred after an extreme rainfall, then check to ensure that the floating pontoon has sufficient ramp length and pile height to allow the pontoon to float high without disconnecting. Also, check that the pool pump and electrical machinery are well above the flood height to avoid a shorting out or expensive repair.

The direction of the property plays a vital role in your family’s comfort. For instance, a practical advice is to buy a north-to-water aspect. This will give you sun on your backyard/waterfront all day, esp. in the winter. If the house faces any other direction, you will be left with half-a-day in the shade, which gets very chilly during the colder months. A west-to-water aspect means you do not have sun on your backyard waterfront until the afternoon, and the orange glare of the sunset fills your windows often requiring you to pull the blinds down. Aside from choosing the home with the aspect of your choice, it is also worth considering if the land fans-out towards the water or not. A block of land that fans out towards the water will allow for a larger pontoon and sufficient room to maneouver; whereas land that fans-in towards the water will have restrictive boat access and will compete for space with neighbouring jetties.

You can check with your local council to confirm the current pontoon and jetty specifications as many council now allow these structures to be moved further out to avoid touching the sand at low tide and ensuring deeper water for boat access.

If you are considering a home on a main river or canal be sure to check the speed limits in the area and the types of activities allowed on the body of water. These restrictions may affect your travel time to destinations and in worse cases, fast moving boats or even wake boats will be causing high wakes that can continuously damage your waterfront structures.

On the Gold Coast, recent changes to council laws make the responsibility of the ageing government-built revetment walls that of the home owner, so ensure the walls are in good condition or seek an assessment from an expert as part of your due diligence.

Do not buy property without talking to the neighbours. They are going to play a significant role in your life, whether you like it or not. You may find that these neighbours are always willing to fill you in on the local gossip and anything they know about the home for sale. You are joining the local community, so you need to determine if you are going to love living there.

Understand your responsibilities as a waterfront homeowner, such as adopting your beach and immediate waterways. While most city councils will clean the waterways, they are not responsible for clearing the beach and fallen branches.

Sure, it might be more complicated to decide on a waterfront home, as there are more aspects to consider. But the pay-off is that once you move into a property well positioned on a waterfront location, you will be living close to nature with an ever-changing backdrop for the life of your family.

Living on a waterfront property on in South East Queensland with inspirational views of the waterways is a dream many boaties seek to make a reality. And the Gold Coast is an attractive location, as more than 90 percent of all residential canals in Australia are in this city.


By Andrew Kancachian