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Whet your appetite for waterfront property in the Highland Lakes

The Highland Lakes has a variety of waterfront property with a range of amenities. Current listings start at a low of about $160,000 on Lake Buchanan and top out at $6 million on Lake LBJ. The Lake LBJ home pictured here is one recently sold by Tammie Bennett, who shared insight into the waterfront property market of the Highland Lakes. Photo courtesy Tammie Bennett

Other than the stars above, one local Realtor who specializes in waterfront homes in the Highland Lakes said you’ll find no consistencies when comparing properties.

To illustrate, Tammie Bennett shared a story about a $1.6 million home in Granite Shoals that, at the time, was the most expensive she had sold in the area. The property next door also was waterfront. It sold for $299,000.

Why the discrepancy? Location, location, location, said Bennett, a Realtor associate with Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty. She breaks down the quality of waterfront property into three categories: channel, cove, and open waterfront.

Open waterfront, with a view of the lake and no other houses across a channel or cove, is the preferred acquisition.

“I always tell buyers to buy the best waterfront they can,” she said. “That’s where you’re going to keep the most value. You can always remodel (your home), but waterfront stays pretty consistent.”

As of early June 2018, the Highland Lakes Association of Realtors had 216 waterfront properties listed for sale on lakes LBJ, Marble Falls, Inks, and Buchanan. The majority, 178, were listed on Lake LBJ and ranged from $200,000 to a high of $6 million.

The most developed of the Highland Lakes, Lake LBJ is surrounded by the cities of Horseshoe Bay, Sunrise Beach Village, Kingsland, Granite Shoals, and Highland Haven. Lake LBJ and Lake Marble Falls also have the benefit of consistent water levels because the Lower Colorado River Authority keeps them within narrow limits.

Lake LBJ’s location and amenities are other factors that make it the most popular of the Highland Lakes.

“Horseshoe Bay has resort amenities, if you want that with your lake property,” Bennett said. “And Lake LBJ is a nice distance from everything.”

The largest of the Highland Lakes, Lake Buchanan, has only 23 waterfront properties listed for sale, ranging from $159,500 to $1.4 million. Lake Marble Falls has 10 waterfront properties listed for sale, ranging from $419,000 to $1.1 million. Inks Lake, which has the fewest listings because of the large amount of waterfront surrounded by Inks Lake State Park, had five waterfront properties from $449,900 to $1.9 million.

Because of the premium for waterfront property, Bennett said buyers take their time making a purchase. Waterfront properties are often on the market longer than a typical residential listing.

“Buyers are far more selective in finding just the right property,” Bennett said. “It is more of a want than a need type of purchase, so finding a place to accommodate their family and spend many years making family memories may take them awhile. I worked with one couple for two years, but when the perfect property for them came on the market, they were ready. They showed up, and we made the offer that day.”

For any property on any of the lakes, Bennett advises buyers and sellers find a local Realtor to guide them through the process.

“Each little community has its own little things a Realtor should know,” Bennett said.

Information that could prove crucial includes knowing whether the property is likely to have a septic or sewer system; if there is a property owners’ association; if you can lease your home as a short-term rental; or what the community is like. These are all things a local Realtor will know upfront to help you begin your search and, ultimately, make the right choice.

Bennett has lived on Lake LBJ since 2006. She said she’s noticed a five- to seven-year turnaround on properties during that time. Most people buy a waterfront property as a place for their families to get together and enjoy the lake. After a few years, that family moves away or doesn’t use the house as often, Bennett said.

“But they have enjoyed it for those years, and they end up making a profit,” she said.

Besides the investment value, the memories are what buyers want, and sellers use that to entice.

“They key in on why they’re looking: the memories, fun, kids out there playing on the lake, skiing, swimming, fishing,” Bennett said. “That’s what they’re here for.”

The best Realtors and agents for buying and selling waterfront property in the Highland Lakes can be found at 101HighlandLakes.com.

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