Lake County Florida contains more livable lakefront property than any other area in Florida. The majority of the 50,000-acre Harris Chain is located within our borders plus over a thousand smaller named and unnamed lakes. With all of these lakes available, one would think that our area is covered with inexpensive and plentiful lakefront home sites. Unfortunately, this is not the case and demand far outstrips supply, making lakefront property some of the most desirable real estate in Florida.
Many factors have contributed to the high price of Florida lakefront property. Strict environmental regulations have excluded many lakes and wetland areas from development. Fifty years ago clearing lake shorelines, filling wetlands and dredging canals were commonplace in Florida. Today, laws to protect wetlands are strictly enforced along with the protection of shoreline plants such as cypress trees and aquatic foliage. Many of our lake shorelines have been declared conservation areas where no clearing or pruning of any kind is allowed.
Another reason for the high cost of lakefront property is the fact that Central Florida was settled long before the rest of Florida was explored. The vast majority of our lakefront lots already have a home of some kind on them, which means that to purchase a nice lakefront lot you often must buy the home along with the property even if you do not plan to utilize the structure. It is a common occurrence to purchase a Harris Chain lakefront home for $300,000-$500,000 and knock down the house to build a new home. In addition, many of these homes are handed down from generation to generation and are not for sale.
The final reason for the high cost of lakefront property is purely demand. For many baby-boomers, retiring on the water in Florida is a life-long dream. Some had the foresight to purchase this property years ago when prices were low. Others have sold homes or businesses in other states or countries where the property values are much higher and find our real estate a bargain even at today's high prices.
With all of these factors in mind, what is the current cost and availability of lakefront property? To answer that question, we will break these properties down into the following categories.
This property is the most desirable, the most costly and the hardest to find. To be considered in this category the property must have actual frontage on either the Harris or Clermont Chain of Lakes. There are only a handful of vacant lots available at any one time with prices currently starting around $250,000 per lot assuming you can find one for sale. If you can find a home for sale on one of the major chains, prices currently start at around $300,000. Many older lakefront homes are being purchased and demolished to create new home sites.
These homes and lots are defined as having frontage directly on a canal, river or bay leading into one of our major lakes. The most important factors when considering canal front property are the depth of the canal and the distance from the lake. Many canals are extremely shallow during times of drought. This is normally not a problem to the owner of a small boat where the motor can be trimmed up, but inboard boat owners should use caution. Also, some canals have long idling distances before you can enter the lake and get on a plane. Currently, a few canal lots are still available starting around $50,000. Canal front mobile homes on the major lake chains start around $100,000 and traditional canal front homes start around $150,000.
There are three factors that influence the value of smaller lake properties; the size of the lake, the lake surroundings and the size of the lot. It is very common in Lake County to find a lake near the center of a town, an industrial park or a working farm. Many people are surprised to find a multi-million dollar home sitting on property directly adjacent to a lot with a 75 year old wooden structure or a mobile home park. Desirable lots on our smaller lakes without any serious negative factors can be bought for around $100,000 if you are lucky, with $200,000 and up being more common.
"Lake Access" is a term used by Realtors which means that the property is not true lakefront. A lake access property is a property that does not have its own dock or boat ramp, but has deeded access to a common dock or boat ramp that is shared by the home owners in that community. The most desirable lake access property has a shared boat ramp allowing access onto a large private lake where public access is not available. This type of access could easily add $50,000 in value to a property. A shared dock is normally not an asset that greatly increases a property’s value unless it also has a private shared boat ramp.
A lake view property may or may not have a shared ramp or dock, but does have a significant view of a lake from the property. The lake view could add an additional $50,000 or more depending upon the lake and particular aspects of the view. Some people consider this more desirable than actually living on the lake as public boat ramps in our county are plentiful. For example, our own home sits on a high hill overlooking Lake Eustis. The boat ramp is 2 blocks away giving us almost all the advantages of lakefront property without the high cost.
If you have questions about Florida lakefront or waterfront homes, please contact us.