For many of us, owning a lakefront Lake Huron property in Port Elgin, Southampton or Sauble Beach is a dream. To have access to the beautiful beaches everyday and be able to watch the sun set into the lake every clear evening is what most people strive for. Whether you’re looking for a recreational property or year-round lakefront home buying a lakefront cottage or home comes with unique challenges that other properties do not have.

We are asked many questions during the summer months about lakefront properties and we have rounded up the biggest challenges that everyone considering a lakefront home should read.

  1. You Don’t Own the Beach or Shoreline – The beach might be your backyard but you don’t own it. This means that you cannot put up a dock (in most cases) and the public will be enjoying the beach too. The beach and shoreline is public property and the public will use it, especially in the summer. You will need to be prepared to share your “backyard” with everyone. Which leads us to:

  2. Privacy – Because you don’t own the beach or the shoreline, you can expect foot traffic and beach-goers in your backyard all summer long. There are also public walking and biking trails that run along the beach which many people take advantage of all year round. If you’re looking for more privacy, you may have to consider not living on the lake.

  3. It’s Not All Sandy Beach – There are beautiful sandy beaches along Lake Huron, but not all the shoreline is sandy. During your search, make sure you walk the shoreline to see if you like it. Some of the shoreline is very rocky or swampy. You will have stunning water views but you may not be able to take long strolls along the shoreline if it’s swampy or very rocky.

  4. Lake Water Levels – The water levels on Lake Huron change year to year. When the water levels are up, you will have less beach/shoreline and when the levels are down, you will have more beach/shoreline.

  5. Weather/Winds – Living on the shoreline means that the winds are a little more intense then living a few blocks away. In the winter those winds can be very cold off the lake. The winds generate large noisy waves – which most people love the sound of, but if you don’t like hearing waves thundering throughout the night – this may be an issue for you.

  6. Winterized vs. Non Winterized Homes – There are both winterized homes and non-winterized cottages along the shoreline. If you are looking for strictly a recreational property, then a non-winterized cottage will work for you. If you are looking for a place to enjoy all year round – make sure the home is winterized. Whichever you choose, make sure you get a home inspection.

  7. Zoning Restrictions & Easements – A waterfront property is special. The property may have restrictions (i.e. no boat docks) or is Environmentally Protected. Zoning restrictions may be a factor if you plan to expand the home/cottage. The other consideration is public easements. There may be a path for pedestrians to access the beach or a waterfront trail on the property that you need to be aware of. Your Saugeen Team REALTOR® will explain any and all restrictions and easements attached to a potential property.

  8. Septic & Well Water – Many homes in Southampton and Port Elgin are on municipal water and sewer – however, there are many homes on a septic system and well water. Make sure you have these inspected before you buy – it can be very costly to replace these systems along the Lake due to environmental concerns. Always get an inspection.

  9. What you can expect to find in Southampton/Port Elgin/Sauble Beach – Waterfront homes are in high demand in this area and the home prices reflect this (location, location, location). There are a variety of styles and sizes of homes to choose from. In some cases, the waterfront property has a road in between the home and shoreline or high sand dunes that block your view. There are not many true lakefront homes available in the area, this is because we live on a Great Lake and the shoreline is limited, unlike the Muskoka area where there are many small lakes with cottages surrounding them. Due to the fact that true lakefront homes are in short supply, the price of one can range from $500,000 to well over $1 million (not including Native Leased Lands – see below). Each of these communities have very different vibes to them so make sure your scope out each community to see if it will fit with your lifestyle.

  10. Your Neighbours - Another thing to consider is that your neighbours may have a thriving summer rental that stays rented all summer long. Every week or two, you will have different people staying next door. Southampton, Port Elgin and Sauble Beach are thriving summer resort communities and bring in a lot of tourism and cottage rentals are big business for cottage owners. This consideration applies to non lakefront property as well.

  11. Native Leased Lands – The land between Southampton and Sauble Beach is owned by the Saugeen Indian Reserve #29 and there are many cottages situated on the Native Leased Lands that can be purchased as an affordable recreational property. Native Leased Land means is that you own the physical cottage but lease the land from the Saugeen Indian Reserve #29. There are very special restrictions and fees associated with these properties. For example, the property you purchase can only be used recreationally. You cannot live in it full-time. Ask your Saugeen Team REALTOR® for more information about current land lease fees and other restrictions.

The decision to purchase a lakefront home in Southampton, Port Elgin, Sauble Beach or somewhere in between is exciting and you will enjoy the community, the beaches and sunsets for years to come. It is important to understand that there are unique challenges when buying on Lake Huron and we hope this list helps you in your decision-making process.

If you have any questions or comments, The Saugeen Team will be more than happy to help you. Give us a call or email us anytime.