How a Waterfront Location Affects Home Values

Owning a waterfront home is a dream for many. There’s simply nothing like living next to a body of water, where you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, wake up to beautiful vistas, and spend the day in idyllic relaxation or active water fun.

In Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest, Lake Superior offers plenty of opportunities to own a waterfront property. The largest body of freshwater in the world, Lake Superior combines the vastness of the sea and the tranquility of a lake to give you the best of both worlds. With crystal clear waters, varying depths, numerous islands, and abundant fish and wildlife, the lake provides unending opportunities for fun and adventure.

Lake Superior’s shoreline stretches over 2,700 miles, spanning the city of Ontario, Canada and the states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. If you’re looking for fantastic Wisconsin waterfront homes for sale, you’ll find great options in the communities along Lake Superior, particularly along the Bayfield Peninsula.

Lakefront living in Bayfield, WI

With a population of around 480, Bayfield boasts all the charm of a progressive small town with a gorgeous waterfront. Lake Superior provides numerous things to do in Bayfield, WI with abundant opportunities for water activities like fishing, swimming, boating, diving, kayaking and so much more.

Bayfield is the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a group of twenty one islands that serve as home to historic lighthouses, sea caves, wildlife habitats, and remnants of centuries-old forests. Madeline Island, although not part of the National Lakeshore, is a popular tourist destination as well boasting pristine beaches, campsites, and a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course.

The Apostle Islands offers some of the best kayaking in the United States, and Bayfield is home to outfitters who provide everything you need for a safe and enjoyable kayaking adventure. Hiking, camping, fishing, and exploring the historic lighthouses are also among the top activities on the islands.

In addition to the Apostle Islands, the Bayfield area offers other unique and fun-filled attractions. The fishing villages on the south shore of Lake Superior will take you back in time with their vintage charm and historic attractions. The farms and orchards around the city delight visitors with their rustic beauty and fresh fruits that you can pick yourself.

What makes waterfront living in Bayfield even more special is the wealth of modern conveniences found amid the bucolic setting. Shopping areas, entertainment venues, topnotch healthcare facilities, and community amenities like clubhouses, marinas and the Bayfield Recreational Center which make life in the city even more relaxing and enjoyable.

Added premium on lakefront homes for sale in Wisconsin

While there are numerous beautiful homes throughout Wisconsin, some of the most desirable properties are lakefront houses for sale in Bayfield, WI. These homes not only give you the best access to the water but also stunning views all day long.

To many people, the idyllic lifestyle is enough reason to buy a waterfront home. But to savvy investors, it’s more than just about this. Waterfront homes are also excellent investments that can yield great returns in the short and long term. Historically, these properties have shown significant increases in value over time. The number of waterfront homes is limited by nature, and the demand has always been greater than the supply.

However, in the wake of recent floodings in various parts of the US, sales of waterfront homes noticeably went down. While home values continued to grow, they rose at a slower rate compared to previous decades. At the same time, the prices of inland homes went up, as buyers preferred to avoid the risk of floods and shoreline management while still getting relatively good access to the water.

In more recent years, however, waterfront homes have been seeing a rebound. A study made by Collateral Analytics in March, 2018 showed that flooding incidents and changes in weather patterns have not diminished the value and desirability of waterfront homes. Reviewing data on waterfront property sales since 2000, the researchers found that, within the same area, waterfront homes continued to show significant premium over non-waterfront homes at the following average rates:

  • Oceanfront homes – 45% premium
  • Lakefront homes – 25% premium
  • Riverfront homes – 24% premium

Looking at Bayfield, WI real estate figures, the premium for lakefront homes is in keeping with the figure given in the study, that is, waterfront homes in the city generally sell for 25% more than non-waterfront homes with similar features.

Valuation of lake homes for sale in Wisconsin

There’s no doubt that being located next to a body of water or close to one makes a property more valuable. But even in the same area, some waterfront homes fetch a higher price than the others due to certain factors.

  1. Proximity to the waterBayfield County, WI homes for sale with easier access to the water enjoy a premium over other waterfront properties. Locations where you can walk a short distance to the beach are highly preferred over those where you have to navigate a longer or more difficult path.

    Beaches are typically sloped, making some areas more elevated than others. Traditionally, a flatter slope is ideal, as it makes walking to the water easier, especially for kids, the elderly, or those with mobility problems.

    However, the frequency of flooding in recent times, as well as more unpredictable weather patterns, has somewhat changed buyers’ preferences. Higher elevations are now considered more desirable because they offer better protection from flooding and the elements. As a result, newer homes built on higher ground generally have better value than older homes built closer to the water.

    Inland properties in waterfront areas have also grown in value because of the changing weather patterns. Many people who want to live near the water are also more wary about having to deal with floods and storms, so they opt for homes further inland.

  2. OrientationHow the house is oriented to various elements also factors into its valuation. A property where you get unobstructed water views commands a higher price, especially if you also get beautiful sunrise or sunset views.

    The property’s orientation to the sun also affects its desirability. If the outdoor area faces the afternoon sun, it could get too hot and will need a shade to make it more comfortable. Many buyers prefer a home that faces east to avoid having to deal with this condition.

    The direction of the wind also plays a role in a home’s living conditions, consequently affecting its value. If the wind blows from the lake toward the property, it can get even colder in the winter. Unpleasant water odors, like the smell of dead fish, might also be carried by the wind to the home.

  3. Water frontageWater frontage is one aspect professional appraisers look at when determining the value of a property. For many buyers, a sweeping view of the lake and all that shore to themselves are worth a higher price tag.

    However, a generous frontage cannot improve property values on its own. Other factors also need to be taken into consideration. A good example is the quality of the shoreline. A home with less frontage but has a fine sandy beach would generally be preferred over one with more frontage but faces a rough and rocky shore.

    There’s also the amount of shoreline to consider. Depending on the season, water levels in certain areas may rise and ebb significantly, affecting the amount of shoreline a property gets. Some buyers may find an occasionally disappearing shoreline to be a turnoff. In addition, if the water level rises too high in certain seasons, the chances of flooding might also be greater. In cases like this, a property in an area with a protected bay may be valued higher.

  4. Activities in the areaA lakefront property can offer serenity and tranquility, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for activities in and out of the water. How busy an area gets and its prevalent activities can also factor into property values.

    For example, the water in some lakefront may offer great views but is too shallow or murky for most activities. Property values in areas like this may be lower than the rest of the market.

    The way an area is marketed also affects home prices. Properties in areas close to amenities like shops, restaurants, and marinas generally come with higher price tags because of the convenience they offer. But a more secluded community can also come with a premium that a niche market is willing to pay.

    Many retirees prefer a less active community where fishing and non-motorized boating are the main activities. On the other hand, more adventurous residents may opt for an area where motorized watercraft and greater variety in water activities are allowed.

  5. Home featuresIn determining home values, the most common method used by professionals is comparative analysis. This involves identifying comparable homes, or comps, that recently sold in the area, and using their sale prices to approximate the value of the subject property. The strengths and weaknesses of a property in relation to the comps are used to adjust estimated value. For example if the subject home has more bedrooms than a comp, the price will be adjusted up. If a comp has a private dock and the subject property has none, the price will be adjusted down.

Maximizing the Value of Your Lakefront Property

Are you looking for lakefront cabins for sale in Wisconsin or waterfront Bayfield, WI condos for sale? A lakefront home has all the potentials of a profitable investment and is inherently more valuable than a regular home. But when it comes time to sell, you can do more to add value to your property and maximize your profit.

Here’s a list of some of the things you can do:

  1. Enhance the viewExquisite water views are among the top draws of a lakefront home, so highlight these at all times. Large glass windows and walls overlooking the water are perfect in bringing these treasured views indoors. If your property doesn’t have them yet, consider a home improvement project to add these. Make sure all windows that face the lake are clean and spotless, and remove objects that block the view.
  2. Spruce up docks and deckingAs they’re constantly exposed to the elements, docks and decks can easily show signs of wear and tear. See to it that yours are in great condition, especially when you’re showing the property to buyers. Replace broken boards, give the structures a fresh coat of paint or stain, and make sure they’re safe. Keep in mind that many homebuyers are buying a waterfront home for the first time and could easily get turned off by aging outdoor features, even if they have no intention of using them.
  3. Clean up the beachIf you’ve lived in a lakefront home for a long time, you’re probably used to a certain amount of litter washed up on the shore. Homebuyers, however, have a more idealized vision of the beach and expect to find it in pristine condition, free from trash and debris. Make sure your shoreline lives up to their expectations. Get rid of as much litter as you can and make the beach as inviting as possible.
  4. Stage the waterfrontHome staging is highly effective in making any property more desirable to buyers. With waterfront homes, the practice takes on another dimension. You need to stage your property to highlight its most desirable feature – the water. Make your waterfront visible by removing foliage that may be blocking the view. Before doing this, however, make sure you get the necessary permit and check shoreline zoning restrictions.

    If you have a patio or deck that faces the water, spruce it up with outdoor furniture and features like an outdoor grill to make it more inviting for outdoor living and entertaining. Put your boat, jetski, and other water “toys” on full display to give buyers a glimpse of the waterfront lifestyle waiting for them.

  5. Have permits for waterfront structures readyDocks, decks, piers, and similar water structures can certainly make a waterfront home more marketable. One of the concerns about these structures, however, is having the necessary permits. In Bayfield, the construction of docks and decks are subject to the state’s regulations, which may be changed or added to from time to time.

    If you have these structures in place, be prepared to show permits for their construction to reassure buyers of their compliance. If your property doesn’t have these structures, consider getting permits for them and other potential shoreline improvements, such as the removal of foliage or construction of a seawall. Knowing they can have the beach they want can encourage buyers to pay a premium for your property.

  6. Have adequate protective measuresWaterfront properties are significantly more exposed to the elements than other property types. To many buyers, it’s important to have adequate measures in place to protect the house and the shoreline from these elements.

    If you don’t have an existing seawall, riprap, or similar erosion control structures, consider adding one. If they’re already in place, make sure they’re in good condition. Buyers may balk at the sale or negotiate for a discount if they find they have to spend thousands of dollars for the repair of these structures.

    Other protective measures to consider include:

    • Adding storm shutters
    • Rust proofing or using stainless steel for outdoor metal products
    • Installing a dehumidifier
    • Building a mudroom or wash area to get rid of sand and dirt before entering the house
    • Installing security features to protect docked boats and other watercraft

Work with a local real estate expert in Bayfield

If you’re considering selling a waterfront home or looking at Northern Wisconsin lakefront homes for sale, work only with a local Realtor with the right experience and knowhow. Make the most out of your investment by getting guidance from the experts.

We at Windseeker Realty are leaders in the field of research, innovation, and consumer education. We are motivated by our love for the Northern Wisconsin way of life, including the incomparable waterfront lifestyle along Lake Superior and other lakes and rivers in the region. We want you to have nothing less than the best real estate experience in our community.

Get in touch with Windseeker Realty today at [ai_phone href=”+1.715.779.5000″]715.779.5000[/ai_phone] or send us an email at [mail_to email=””][/mail_to].

Get in touch with Windseeker Realty, one of the top real estate companies in Northern Wisconsin, at 715.779.500 You can also send us an email at

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