How to Buy or Sell Waterfront Property Without Getting Soaked!
10 Points to Ponder Before You Decide
Winding your way through the many agencies and regulations governing Waterfront Properties can be a daunting experience. The last thing you want is to have your plans frustrated by an unexpected regulation, or an agreement fall apart by time-consuming permits.
A Dream Home on the water can be a reality for you. As you inspect the proeprty on the market, here are 10 important factors you need to consider. They will affect the improvements you can make on your home, the types of additions allowed, and the cost of your home investment.
- 1. What exactly, do you want? And what, exactly, do you have to sell? Of all the attractions of waterfront living, the Gulf and Bay Views are the most expensive. Beach Front is much harder to find than property with docks on navigable waterways.
- 2. FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for establishing the guidelines concerning building in flood prone areas. And virtually all of Florida is at risk of flooding. Property that does not conform to the rules and regulations with permits issued by the appropriate State and County Agencies, may have an expanded risk of not receiving full insurance settlement at claim time.
- 3. Flood Zones. Designated Flood Zones have letters: V, A, B, C, etc. Each designated zone has building height requirements. Portions of a single property may be in different zones. Beware, the most stringent zone will be the one used for permitting.
- 4. The Jurisdictions. An array of Federal, State and Local jurisdictions in Sarasota and Manatee Counties interpret the guidelines drafter by FEMA. Often, their interpretations of a specific guideline differ.
- 5. Setback Lines. The State of Florida has established a Coastal Construction Control Line. Sarasota County also has a Gulf Beach Setback Line, which is seaward of the state line. And there is a Barrier Island 20-Year Pass Hazard Line. If you build, remodel, or enlarge a structure on the seaward side of these lines, you may need to obtain special permits.
- 6. The Permit Process. The time required to obtain permits from the various County and State Agencies difers widely. Permits from the State of Florida have been known to take up to a full year.
- 7. Legal or Non-Legal. Non conforming structures which were built before the regulations took effect in the 1970s are grandfathered in. However, extensive renovations, or additions may not have been permitted. Even among the properties which are non-conforming, there are two classifications: legal and non-legal. The rules surrounding these classificiations determine the improvements a homeowner is allowed.
- 8. Pre-FIRM or Post-FIRM. "Pre-FIRM" and "post-FIRM" refer to the dates that the Flood Insurance Rate Maps were adopted in the different jurisdictions, or Dec. 31, 1974, whichever is later. Rules and guidelines related to FEMA have also changed over the years. A legal non-conforming "pre-FIRM" ground floor next to a non-legal, non-conforming "post-FIRM" ground floor may be worth more. In fact, non-legal improvements can adversely affect the value of the property.
- 9. Seawalls, Docks and Vegetation. Seawalls and docks may require State and Local permits to construct, reconstruct, or enlarge. Mangroves are a protected species. Removing or significantly trimming them can result in fines.
- 10. Marine Navigation. The depth of the water at the dock is not the only factor involved in marine navigation. What are high and low tide depths of the water between the dock and the main channels? Bridge clearances between the dock and the waterway also vary. What is the overall with of the waterway? It may be obstructed by a dock or a moored vessel.