3 Hot Tips For Buying Waterfront Property in the State of Maryland

3 Hot Tips For Buying Waterfront Property in the State of Maryland

Everyone fantasizes of owning their very own lake home or beach house, but what most don’t realize is that making that dream a reality is easier now more than ever.

 For decades, Maryland has been the quintessential location for purchasing quality waterfront property, alluring buyers with its salty breezes and sandy beaches.

 In fact, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources predicts that the population of the Chesapeake Bay basin alone will rise over 16 million by 20201.

 But while waterfront property has become increasingly popular, there are things that every new buyer should consider before buying a waterfront home.

 Here are some of the top tips you should note when deciding to purchase waterfront real estate in the state of Maryland.

Know Where Your Property Starts and Ends

While it may sound obvious, for those who lack experience with waterfront property it's important to understand where your property begins and ends.


This refers to riparian rights, or the rights that owners of real property possess when the property borders water or flows through the property (in the instance of something like a stream or river).


Essentially, if you have riparian rights then you own everything up to the water's edge. More importantly you own the rights to access the water (within the bounds of your property) and the extension to use it with approval by local government.


In short, if a property does not carry with its riparian rights, then the water rights are owned by a local organization or county. This means there may be restrictions on building a pier or dock into the water.


Most waterfront property in the state of Maryland comes with riparian rights, but this is not always the case. It is always a good idea to confirm what rights you have in advance so you know how you can and cannot use and access the water.

Understand Covenants, Regulations, and Restrictions

What’s great about buying waterfront property in Maryland is that the state has been committed to protecting local waterways, keeping it clean and enjoyable for all.


But in order to help maintain local habitats, the state has implemented specific regulations that, as a waterfront property homeowner, you would need to follow.


The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection Program is a great example of legislation designed to protect the Bay by setting limitations on improvements and development that homeowners can perform.


The program designates a buffer area to help with runoff and pollutants. Homeowners cannot remove healthy trees or shrubs (unless replaced at a 1:1 ratio) or build into the area without permits and special zoning approval.


If you are planning on purchasing waterfront property and building (or improving the property) as part of a planned community development, consider that there may be additional covenants and restrictions with the work you can do.

Make Sure You Are Fully Covered

Waterfront property is certainly ideal for those long summer days, but it can also have drawbacks during natural disasters such as a flood.


If you are financing your new waterfront real estate purchase and you are in a FEMA designated flood zone, chances are you will be required to purchase flood insurance.


However, even if you are not using a loan to purchase your new waterfront dream home, it may be work exploring supplemental coverage options to protect your investment against natural disasters such as a flood or hurricane.


Contact your local zoning board to obtain copies of zoning maps or check out FEMA’s online resources to determine if your property will be in a flood zone prior to finalizing your purchase.


1 Background and History. (n.d.). Retrieved September 3, 2020, from https://dnr.maryland.gov/criticalarea/Pages/background.aspx


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