The Tampa Bay area can offer affordable, waterfront living for everyone from retirees on a fixed income to all-star athletes building palatial bay front estates. If you search online for "Waterfront property in Tampa Bay", the result will be a list of websites that can assist in finding available properties containing certain key words, such as "waterfront" or "water access." If you dream of owning waterfront real estate, there are several intricacies involved with the search other than just searching for waterfront listings from an office or home computer. I must preface by stating when I refer to "Waterfront Real Estate", I am referring to properties with salt water access or frontage. A majority of your decision should depend on your intentions with, and practicality of, the property.

Some of the many particulars of purchasing waterfront real estate in Tampa Bay include your intentions with the property. If your intentions are to find a piece of property with bay access so you can buy a boat and go fishing or sailing, there is more due diligence required then usual to ensure you have those capabilities. If the property is vacant land, you may want to look into whether or not you are able to build a dock due to endangered habitat impacts. Conservation set-backs can affect building restrictions and property elevation can determine flood insurance rates; How do you feel about a house on stilts? And, waterway obstructions will quickly determine the size of the vessel you plan on owning.

Buying waterfront real estate with an existing structure (e.g. dock or house) can be used to your advantage. Even if you do not intend on using the structure, it can help you determine the practicality of a property. Take a trip out to the property you're considering before you purchase or submit a contract. Check out the size of the boats on the docks near-by; are they comparable to the size of boat you'd like to own? That will be a good indicator of access restrictions. You can find some great deals if you were to consider living on a canal. However, be mindful that not all canals are dredged. Even if it is, be sure it is deep and dredged frequently enough. A house can be another structure you can find useful in research. For instance, where the house is located on the lot will indicate where most of your set-backs are. Even with zoning changes, most older dwellings have grandfather clauses. None the less, definitely look into permitting and always do a title search. These are just a few reasons why it is so important to be proactive and visit the properties in Tampa when buying waterfront real estate.

In order for a property to be practical, it also has to be affordable. Luckily, in Hillsborough County (the 813 area) alone, you can find waterfront property in all price ranges. For the retiree on a fixed income, I might recommend a condo or manufactured home in a retirement community, starting around $30,000 with options for water access amenities like boat slips and clubhouses. Families can find affordable single family homes in Oldsmar, Town 'N Country, Apollo Beach and Ruskin ranging in price from $120k all the way up to $500,000+. Vacant land tends to be least expensive in the South Shore area. At this time, you can purchase close to a quarter acre of waterfront land for under $75,000! Please check out our other article on South Shore Real Estate. Whether you desire a secluded estate on 4 acres of prime waterfront land, a mansion, or penthouse condo in exclusive communities like Bay Shore or Davis Islands, it's available in the Tampa Bay area. Also, if you're not able to visit potential properties yourself, you can always find an agent who will. Those services are generally free to a buyer. Of course, I'd recommend you seek the advice of a local expert to help find your dream waterfront home.

For more information and guides check out our Guide to Real Estate in Tampa.