Minnesota Lake Shore
Are you dreaming of a Minnesota lake home? The Land of 10,000 Lakes has literally millions of feet of shoreline, but often it seems only the wealthy can live on the water’s edge. Surprisingly this isn’t an accurate perception. While a full recreational lake with a hard bottom, sandy shoreline is the most coveted types of lakeshore home, it is also most expensive. Thankfully, there are many other options for the would-be lake home owner.
What Determines Lake Home Value?
Size of Lake There is a general rule; the larger the lake, the higher the price. A large, full recreational lake is in the highest demand. However the exception to the rule is the very large lakes like Superior and Mille Lacs where strong winds and dangerous waves scare off many home buyers.
Elevation and Accessibility The ideal lake home is situated with a level view of the lake. If there is a climb down stairs, a road to cross or an extremely long dock to access the water, the value is affected.
Shoreline A hard sandy shoreline is most coveted and costly, followed closely by a gravel bottom shore. Soft bottom, weedy shores are acceptable when there is capability to dock a boat and place to swim. Since the removal of water plants and vegetation is regulated by permits issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the greater the amount of vegetation along the shore, the lower the value.
Affordable Minnesota Lake Shore Options
Shoreline along a channel is a great option for a full recreational lake. Many large lakes will have channels or narrow extensions that lead to other lakes or ponds. Usually there is not a place for a beach but you can have a slip or short dock for your boat. The channel will provide access to the main lake. The view will probably include homes on the opposite shore of the channel but if your goal is affordable use of a full recreational lake, this is a great alternative.
Smaller Lake with Channel to Full Recreational Lake
Often the lakes in Minnesota are connected to one or several smaller lakes. This can be a great opportunity. Shoreline that is shallow or weedy is not considered prime but if it has access to a larger lake, it could provide the same enjoyment at a much lower price.
Small Acreage Lake
Smaller lakes can be of interest to the more laidback water lover. Often there will be restrictions disallowing motors or only small motors. These smaller lakes can still be great for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Some will allow docks and beaches but check with the DNR for specific restrictions. A small lake will still offer wonderful natural views at a significantly lower price than a full recreational lake.
Environmental Lakes and Wetlands
Very shallow lakes wonderful for privacy but not great for recreation. If you are looking for a home with awesome views of wildlife, this may be something to consider.
Many homes and associations near a full recreational lake have been developed with deeded access providing use of the lake. The ability to have a dock, use the beach, or moor a boat, will be outlined in a legal agreement specifying what uses are allowed. Not all deeded access is created equal! Request a copy of all of the specific uses and rules before writing an offer so you can fully understand the access available as a home owner.
A home with a beautiful lake view but no shoreline or lake access can provide the wonderful picturesque views everyone dreams of without the high lakeshore taxes.
Location with Public Access Nearby
A final option is to look for a home that is near park with public lake access. I sold one such home where the public access to a good-sized full recreational lake was about a quarter mile down the street. This family uses the lake to canoe, cross country ski and fish without driving or trailers. There was none of the additional cost or taxes associated with lakeshore property but all of the benefits!
Getting educated about Minnesota Lake Shore
Aquatic plants growing in public waters belong to the State of Minnesota. The removal of water plants and vegetation is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Under Minnesota law, a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is required to clear most shoreline vegetation. The one exception is for clearing a 15 foot wide path to open water through floating leaf vegetation. However if the aquatic vegetation contains emergent plants, a permit is required. It can be difficult to know the difference. The Minnesota DNR aquatic regulations webpage has a plethora of information complete with photos to help educate the novice lake home owner. The page also provides directions on how to obtain a permit for removal of shoreline vegetation.
Additional Resources for Minnesota Lake Home Buyers
Department of Natural Resources Lake Finder This comprehensive search engine contains information on the size, depth and condition of Minnesota lakes by county and lake name. It also includes approximate numbers and types of fish found in the listed lakes.
Minnesota Water Law Basics Who owns the lake? What are the lake shore owner’s rights?
Tips for Buying and Building on Lakeshore The University of Minnesota Extension Service provides a number of tips on shoreline maintenance for those considering purchasing and or building on a Minnesota lake.