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First You Buy the House

Existing waterfront homeActually you’re buying a lot rather than a house, so don’t be concerned with what the house looks like or the condition it’s in. You do want to be concerned about the things you can’t change: the view, the lot size, the desirability of the location.

View from the lot This is your opportunity to offer the seller an “as is” contract and one that lets the seller take whatever they’d like from the house. I’d suggest that you do make the offer subject to a seawall inspection, and subject to a feasibility study, which would include determining the flood zone of the property, the elevations at various points on the property, government and/or neighborhood zoning restrictions and required setbacks, whether the home you want to build will fit within the buildable area of the lot, and whether you can build the dock and boat facilities that you want at a reasonable cost.

You will want to look at the other homes in the neighborhood and the trends, so that you don’t overbuild for the area – unless you knowingly decide to do that. Of course you’ll want to determine the water depth at low tide, realizing that low tide is lower at some times of the year than others. You may also need to know if there are any fixed bridges between you and the Gulf of Mexico (true “sailboat water” involves both water depth and water access to the Gulf). Will the size and design of your new home be compatible with the existing homes in the neighborhood?

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