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Buying Waterfront and Coastal Real Estate

Friday, August 5, 2022   /   by Anne Rose

Buying Waterfront and Coastal Real Estate

Waterfront real estate is considered to be any property with frontage on a body of water. Beachfront property is located on or adjacent to a beach, which may be on an ocean or lake. Beachfront real estate is always waterfront; waterfront property, on the other hand, may have a beach, but it can also be property that fronts a rocky coast, a canal, a river or other body of water.

Waterfront property, especially luxury waterfront homes, usually offer great views and access to boating and water recreation. Many people dream of living on the water, and that is often a huge motivator in home purchases in a coastal area.

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With an abundance of water recreation, southeastern coastal North Carolina offers activities for everyone. Whether you live for sand between your toes at the beach and the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean, or a walk along the Cape Fear Riverwalk is your preference, Wilmington and the surrounding cities and beach towns offer an abundance of waterfront living options.

Coastal real estate is often considered to be ocean front or ocean-facing, but there are many other options for waterfront living in the Cape Fear area. Waterfront real estate can be located adjacent to any of these:

  • Ocean
  • River
  • Marsh
  • Sound
  • Creek
  • Canal
  • Harbor
  • Intracoastal Waterway (includes the Sound - Banks Channel)
  • Pond (natural or man-made)
  • Cove - river or lake Lake

Living on the water provides a variety of benefits, including breathtaking sunrise and sunset views, tranquility, and unique connection to the environment. Waterfront homes are often more expensive, and reason is more than for only the views.

“If you are like me, my home has always been one my most treasured retreats from the crazy fast-paced world in which we live. And for me, my outdoor living spaces are just as important as the interior, and having a waterfront backdrop against which I can personalize with my own landscape choices enables me to combine the very best of nature’s artistry and my own creative spirit to create the perfect environment to sit back and relax.” Rick Binford, Broker/Realtor®.

Search Waterfront Real Estate in Coastal North Carolina

For some waterfront homeowners, living by the water affords immediate access to boating, sand, and surfing or other water sports. For others, waterfront living is a tranquil place to connect with nature. Whatever waterfront lifestyle best suits you, there's a property that perfectly matches your desires.

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Know the Difference Between Waterfront and “Water View”

Waterfront property on the ocean generally means that it fronting the ocean and has direct access to the beach. In coastal towns like Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Topsail Island, “first row,” “second row,” and “third row” describes how far back from the water the property is, running along streets that are parallel to the beach.

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Ocean or water view means that the home or condo has a view of the ocean, whether it is a completely unobstructed view or not. Some ocean or water view real estate may afford ocean river or lake vistas from a top floor, but not the ground level. For example, many of the historic homes in Historic Downtown Wilmington offer Cape Fear River views from a west-facing third floor balcony or window, but not from any where else in the home.

Special Considerations When Purchasing Waterfront Property

Part of your Due Diligence as a buyer of waterfront real estate should be to have an expert inspect the location. The land should be stable and the waterfront - including bulkheads, docks, piers, and boat ramps - should be in acceptable condition. Your real estate agent will be able to advise you on waterline rise, flood risk, and other issues specific to purchasing waterfront real estate.

Another important consideration when purchasing waterfront real estate are the potential expenses for maintaining structures like docks, bulkheads, and replenishing beach sand. Marsh front home owners may need to contribute to community costs for dredging and deepening waterways to preserve boat access. Permits and fees may also accompany improvement and maintenance of waterfront property.

A waterfront home in a highly desirable area, well-built, on sustainable property, with access to amenities, is likely to maintain or increase value.


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