As an experienced luxury Realtor(r) selling lakeshore properties in the Central Okanagan, I have seen firsthand how the lakeshore market has appreciated over the last decade. The allure of living on the lake is undeniable, and the demand for these lakeshore properties continues to grow stronger; especially in Kelowna and West Kelowna. Just to provide some insight on growth; the biggest climbs we have seen in the Okanagan real estate market has been through the 2020-2022 pandemic period. In the summer of 2020, I sold a 2015-built lakeshore home, on Okanagan lake, for $2,350,000. Only 12 months later, we relisted that same lakeshore property for sale for $3,200,000 and successfully sold this lakeshore Okanagan home for $3,100,000 in 2021. The ROI (rate of return) on this investment in one year of holding this lakeshore investment was 31.9%. In a world where many real estate investors are happy with an ROI of 7%; many home sellers in the Okanagan have enjoyed excellent yields on their investments in the last 24 months. 

Making sure you select the right Okanagan lakeshore home is very important. Some features could easily be overlooked by less experienced lakeshore purchasers. Here are some tips to help you prepare your needs and wants for your next Okanagan lakeshore home purchase.  It can be overwhelming to know what features to consider when buying a home on Lake Okanagan, Kalamalka Lake, or Wood Lake.

Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Location & Accessibility:  The Central Okanagan has many beautiful lakes, but each one has its own unique features and benefits. Consider which lake suits your lifestyle best – whether it’s the lively atmosphere of Okanagan Lake, the quieter waters of Kalamalka Lake, or the serene surroundings of smaller Wood Lake. in Lake Country. You’ll also want to think about the location of the property itself – is it close to amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, boat fuel supply, marinas, shops; or is it more secluded? Is there sewer and electricity at the property line? The less remote the lakeshore lot, or the fewer utility connections it offers, the less attractive the property may be to a preferred mortgage lender.  There are cabin-like builds on Kalamalka lake, in Coldstream, that often attract many buyer inquiries, as they frequently list around or under a million dollar asking price. What many buyers discover during their due diligence of purchase is that the prime mortgage lenders will not loan on these properties as there are no sewer, water or electricity services at the lot line. If the lakeshore property is accessible by boat only, this will also pose challenges if you are not able to purchase the property with 100% of your cash.  For sake of popularity to Buyers' and Mortgage lenders, Kelowna’s most sought-after lakeshore locations continue to be Lower Mission, Upper Mission, North Kelowna, North Glenmore and McKinley Landing.  If you enjoy excess sun exposure, the east side of Okanagan Lake is a good choice. If you enjoy the morning sun and a little less city presence, West Kelowna’s Lakeview Heights, Casa Loma, Westbank and Peachland are also very popular.  If you are attempting to purchase a waterfront home under $2,000,000.00, the most affordable single-family lakeshore options are frequently found along Westside Road between Fintry and Vernon's North end of Okanagan Lake. One of the advantages to purchasing a lakeshore home between Lake Country to Vernon is that any vacant home located in this area could be exempt from the annual speculation tax for a Canadian homeowner. Lake Country is also uniquely positioned to offer the only access to 3 separate lakes in less than a 30-minute commute. There are geographic locations within the Okanagan where the speculation tax may or may not apply. We recommend that all buyers inquire with their chartered accountant on all tax exemptions regarding the BC speculation tax. Exemptions mentioned in this article are subject to change with new government announcements.

  2. Size matters. Do not overlook the value of waterfront frontage: The amount of waterfront footage can significantly impact the value of a lakeshore property. Generally, the more footage, the better. It’s important to note that not all waterfront footage is created equal – a property with 100 feet of shoreline may be more valuable than one with 200 feet, if access to the lake requires a funicular ride down to the lake or is steep and rocky.  The privacy between lakeshore properties is also vital to know.

  3. Water quality & Water depth off the dock: The quality of the lake’s water is an important consideration when buying a lakeshore property. In the last few years, due to large algae bloom, Wood Lake has experienced some unsafe drinking/swimming water. Some Okanagan lakes are clearer and cleaner than others, and this can affect the types of water activities you can enjoy, as well as the value of the property. If you consider a more central lakeshore property, it's more likely that the home is connected to a private or municipal utility system. If the home is connected to a lake intake system, be sure to retrieve water samples within the household before removing the conditions of your lakeshore purchase. It’s essential you understand how the water treatment system works inside your Okanagan home and have a general understanding of water depths off the dock.  Can a large yacht be accommodated off the dock? Has there ever been a flood on the property where there was dock damage? If the home resides on a flat lakeshore lot, is there a sump pump? If yes, when was the sump pump last purchased? Come May, the water levels of Okanagan Lake do rise. If you are purchasing in a potential flood zone, be sure to have us, or your real estate agent investigate the history of records with Frontcounter BC.

  4. Don’t Assume Dock Allowed:  The Okanagan Shuswap Resource District of Ministry of Forests oversees all applications to modify, remove or construct a dock in Okanagan lake. The process to construct a marina or singular dock has become more laborious and complicated. The ministry is working hard to protect the Okanagan lake ecosystems and required riparian setbacks. Since the governance of these matters have become more strict, all lakeshore real estate buyers should not assume that the existing dock and boat slip they see on a lakeshore home viewing is final inspected or approved with the ministry. Sometimes the floating docks are illegal or built without permission. Although some lakeshore homes can not have approved moorage, it is vital you know your moorgage options before negotiating a sale price on a lakeshore home.

  5. Slope: The slope of the property can impact accessibility and privacy. A steep slope can make it challenging to access the waterfront, while a gentle slope can provide easy access and more privacy. This is a balancing act, as the more flat and accessible to the lake, the higher risk of water damage to the property. 

  6. Infrastructure: Consider the infrastructure of the property, such as the dock, boathouse, and retainment walls. Are the dock pilings in good condition? Will they or the electronic boat lift require maintenance or upgrades before you take possession?

  7. Zoning and regulations: Zoning regulations can vary depending on the Okanagan lake and its location, and it’s important to understand what restrictions or regulations may apply to the property and all adjacent properties. This includes knowing the restrictions on building size or height, riparian setbacks, as well as regulations around the existing docks and boat slips. It’s also important that you investigate what potential nearby lakeshore lots could be redeveloped around you. If you are spending over $5,000,000 on your lakeshore home, ensure you have an understanding on preserved privacy.

Buying a lakeshore property in the Central Okanagan is a significant investment, and it’s important to consider all of these factors before making a decision. Working with an experienced luxury realtor can help you navigate the market and find the perfect lakeshore property to fit your lifestyle and preferences.

Posted by Gillian Krol Personal Real Estate Corporation on
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