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5 Quick Tips Before Buying Lakefront Property

Written by Lawrence Opalewski on April 9, 2021 Category: Docks, Easements and Riparian Rights, Land Use and Zoning, Michigan Land Use and Zoning, Water Access

Buying property on one of Michigan’s many inland lakes is a dream for many. Fishing, swimming, sunset boat rides, and quiet mornings on the water can create priceless memories. However, if a buyer doesn’t do proper due diligence, a dream waterfront property can become a nightmare. Here are 5 quick suggestions for those considering purchasing property on an inland lake.

  1. Consider purchasing a riparian survey. Most people assume their riparian bottom lands extend straight out from their property lines. This is rarely the case. In reality, riparian bottom lands borders extend from the property lines to the center of the lake. If the lake is anything other than a perfect circle, the angles of the borders will be unusual.
  2. Check the plat. If you are buying a lot in a platted subdivision, make sure to review the plat. The plat will usually describe the rights to any common areas, including road ends or “community” lots. It may also describe any access easements that aren’t apparent from the deed.
  3. Make sure there are no unrecorded easements. Anything not recorded in the register of deeds will not come back in a title search. Therefore, it is vital to make sure, to the extent possible, that nobody else has any rights to use your property for lake access.
  4. Check the location of neighboring docks. Even if you can show that a neighbor’s dock is on your riparian bottom lands, the neighbor might still have the right to keep it there. If the neighbor has been placing the dock on your property for 15 years or more, there is an argument that the neighbor has acquired a prescriptive easement for the dock.
  5. Consider visiting the property on a summer weekend. Again, this is not always feasible. But the property that looks tranquil on a Tuesday morning may not maintain that tranquility into the weekends. If you are hoping for a “quieter” experience on a lake, summer weekends will be the best indicator of what to expect.

When things go according to plan, owning property on an inland lake is very rewarding. When things go wrong, it can turn into a source of anxiety and expense. These tips are ways to weed out some of the most glaring possible pitfalls. An experienced waterfront realtor will likely make similar suggestions as well.

If you’ve purchased property on an inland lake and are experiencing issues with neighbors, your municipality, or EGLE, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC. We have years of experience with riparian rights and related issues. We would be happy to speak with you.

Looking to purchase property on or near a Michigan lake?

If you have concerns about others using your property to access the water without your permission, our free guide to Easements, Access and Riparian rights may be a valuable resource.

Download the Free Guide Now

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