Maryland Waterfront Real Estate Property Buyer’s Guide

Maryland Waterfront Real Estate Property Buyer’s Guide

Maryland Waterfront real estate property buyer’s guide is an article to make it easy for property buyers to help them have a well-informed decision whenever they decided to buy waterfront homes in Maryland. Please read the compiled information below for more details or contact Frank today for more help!

General Real Estate Information in Maryland

A waterfront home is built on a property that goes directly to the water’s edge. This type of home is what many buyers are looking for in Maryland, and it comes in a wide range of styles and price ranges. 

Most homebuyers fall in love with the properties along the Chesapeake Bay because of
its deep open vista which you won’t find along the creeks and rivers. Deep water, like that around Annapolis, would usually mean at least four feet of water that is deep enough to keep a sailboat in the water with a shallow draft or shoal draft keel.

Many homebuyers in Maryland are attracted to this location
because of its waterfront houses. 

The view, the water activities, and the positive effects to mental and physical health are just some of the reasons why a lot of people would love to live near the water. If you are in the market looking for a waterfront home in the beautiful Chesapeake Bay State, here are a few things you’ll need to know:

Critical Area Regulations in Maryland

Back in 1984, the Maryland General Assembly created the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection Program to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding habitat. 

The program is led by a Critical Area Commission which, with the help of 61 local governments, protects the land within the critical area by restricting and controlling the development within 1,000 feet inward from all tidal influence for the Bay. 

In line with this, a Critical Area Buffer wasestablished as the 100 feet adjacent to the tidal waters, tidal wetlands, and
tributary streams.

Within this buffer area, shrubs, plants, and trees help to prevent land erosion which could consequently pollute the water. If the property that you would like to buy is located within the critical area, it is important for you to know that, once you have purchased the property, you would need to ensure that the use of your land is within the established regulations and that certain decisions to develop your land would need to undergo the approval process.

Building a property within the Critical Area Buffer is generally permitted, but it is best for you to consult with your local zoning board for all rules and regulations in your specific situation. You might need to check whether there are restrictions as to the total amount of lot coverage you can have. You might also be required to submit a Buffer Management Plan if you plan on making changes on your property, even for minor work like tilling your garden.

 

In addition, if your property is built within the Critical Area Buffer, you cannot simply remove trees without replacing them. And in some cases, you might be required to replace each tree with more than one. In this area, you can only remove trees if they are dead, dying, diseased, or a hazard on the property.

Maryland's Beautiful Dock at the Lake

Riparian vs. Non-Riparian Rights

Homebuyers who are looking at a waterfront property have two choices: riparian and non-riparian. When a Maryland waterfront homeowner has riparian rights, this means that they hold a deed that extends all the way to the water’s edge, allowing them direct access to the water and the right to extend use into the water, like build a pier, with the approval of the local government. 

One thing to remember is, one homeowner’s right to extend and improve their lot cannot encroach upon their neighbors’ rights. On the other hand, when a homeowner has non-riparian rights, this means that they have water access, but they have no rights over the property leading up to the water, which is typically owned by a community association or county. 

In most cases, when a home does not have riparian rights, the homeowner would not have a pier or dock in the water. Instead, access to the water is granted by certain communities.

 

If the waterfront home that you are interested in buying is
located in a developed community or is part of a Homeowners’ Association, you will need
to inquire about the established regulations in that area. Usually, these
communities and HOAs hold the riparian rights to waterfront properties, so you
will need to know which maintenance are provided by the community or HOA and which ones are your responsibility.

Communities and Homeowners’ Association

If the waterfront home that you are interested in buying is located in a developed community or is part of a Homeowners’ Association, you will need to inquire about the established regulations in that area. Usually, these communities and HOAs hold the riparian rights to waterfront properties, so you will need to know which maintenance are provided by the community or HOA and which ones are your responsibility.

Real Estate Professional and a Homebuyer in a Meeting

Flood Insurance

One common misconception among homebuyers is that the homeowner’s insurance is enough to protect them in case of a flood. The factis, homeowners’ policies do not cover damages from water entering at or below the surface of the ground. And if your property is located within a flood zone, you will be required to purchase flood insurance. This type of insurance is regulated by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can be a bit costly.


According to Maryland Flood Insurance, Maryland ranked 4th in terms of the highest amount of flood insurance policies in place back in 2011, behind Florida, Louisiana, and
Texas. Before you make an offer on a waterfront home, check the flood zone map
and inquire with the local zoning board about the requirements for the property
you are eyeing to buy.

A Dog Running at the Dock

Damages from Hurricane Isabel

When you buy a waterfront home, your lender would be requesting a flood certificate that states the flood zone status of the property. In addition to hazard insurance on the property, you will also need flood insurance. Hurricane Isabel brought about significant damage along the Chesapeake Bay back in September 2003 and many homes were damaged and flooded, so it would be best to inquire about when the house was last renovated. Your agent should be able to help you verify with the homeowner what damages were incurred from the hurricane, if there were any, as well as the insurance agent who would be able to check the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) and determine any claims filed on the property.

Maryland Waterfront Real Estate Property Buyer's Guide

While the rules and regulations involved with Maryland waterfront homes can seem a bit overwhelming, all the efforts you put into learning all these and undergoing the processes involved will be all worth it once you have moved in to your new home and are able to enjoy the wonderful view every single day. If you need help finding the right home and getting the appropriate assistance with your real estate purchase, just give me a call at 443-992-5700 or email me at [email protected].

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