Lake Winnipesaukee Buying Secrets #1

Lake Winnipesaukee Waterfront Buying Secrets Issue 1.

top secretSo you are thinking about buying a waterfront home on Lake Winnipesaukee in the beautiful Lake Region of NH? That is fantastic! But there is a lot about buying a waterfront home that perhaps you haven’t even considered or even have thought of! It’s a huge investment so you want to get the very best property that you can and you certainly don’t want any surprises. Here are some important secrets about buying a home on the big lake that you really need to know about before taking the plunge.

The old real estate adage; “location, location, location” still reigns supreme, but when looking at Winnipesaukee waterfront property it is just as important to give equal consideration to the “water, water, water!”

“How so?” you might ask, particularly if you are someone that has not spent a lot of time on Lake Winnipesaukee or any other lake for that matter. You see, not all water is created equal. While the basics are two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, there really is a difference in lake water that needs to be discovered and understood fully by would-be waterfront owners.

clear waterClarity.

First you have the issue of clarity. When you look in the water off the end of the dock at the property you are considering purchasing, is the water clear or dirty looking? Can you see the bottom of the lake? On a rating scale there is crystal clear water (0-25), light tea color water (25-40), or just plain tea colored (40-75). Overall, Winnipesaukee has a rating of 0-14 which is as clear as they come. But there are areas of the lake that go from a light tea color to downright murky. The clearer water is generally where there are broad open areas along shore and where there is plenty of wave action from boats and wind. The water can become a little more tea colored in some of the coves where there is little current. This is generally attributed to the tannic acids released form organic matter like leaves and wood that have fallen into the water. But, there are plenty of coves where the water is crystal clear as well.

While there is really nothing wrong with tea colored water and it is not going to hurt you physically, most home buyers want crystal clear water to dip their toes into…so in reality it could hurt you in the pocketbook a bit when you go to sell your waterfront home. Buyers equate getting into tea colored lake water much the same as they would getting into a bathtub with dirty water in it. It is one of those mental hurdles that most buyers have trouble overcoming.


winni water depthAnother consideration is how deep the water is at the property. Lake water depth varies all over the lake with some shorefronts being shallow and some dropping off so sharply you could dock the Titanic out front. Ideally, you want enough depth to dock your boat on either a 30’ or 40’ dock. The current rules on Winnipesaukee allow for a 6’ x 40’ seasonal dock or a 6’ x 30’ permanent dock on a lot with more than 75’ of frontage. If you have less than 75’ of frontage you can get a 4’ x 24’ seasonal dock. There are provisions to allow for longer docks in areas where the water is so shallow at the shore that you can’t get your boat to it. Bur be advised, taking a sixty foot dock in and out can be a big chore in the spring and fall!

You’d like to have at least a minimum of three and a half or four feet of depth for a most boats. Make sure you know how much draft you need for your current boat and think about that nice new one you hope to purchase down the road. And, remember, the lake levels go down in the fall so take that into consideration during the home search.


SANDY BOTTOMAnother consideration is what is in the water. What is the bottom of the lake like at the property you are considering to buy? Is it the much preferred sandy bottom? Is it a rocky bottom making it difficult for the kids to play? Or are there mammoth, propeller swallowing boulders just off shore requiring charting a careful course in and out from the dock? Maybe the bottom is mucky and there is lots of vegetation that require constant hand removal. Even worse, you could have a dreaded milfoil invasion in the area.

Calm or Rough?

rough waterAnother important consideration is whether you are located in an area of calm waters or potential raging whitecaps. Waterfront properties in a cove or on shoreline protected from the prevailing north winds tend to be more desirable. Docking a boat on big open shorelines in a stiff breeze can be exciting and keeping the boat secure on a dock when the lake is rocking and rolling can be a real challenge. That is often why you will see boats moored off shore rather than docked in certain areas on  Winnipesaukee. Big wind can cause big damage to your boat and can cause ice flows to damage your permanent dock in the Spring when the ice starts to break up.

So there you have it. The most desirable water front properties have calm, crystal clear water with about four feet of depth at the end of the dock and a fantastic sandy bottom with no huge boulders lurking out offshore to wreck your props. The most desirable waterfronts come with a premium price so there are bound to be some tradeoffs. Of course, there are a lot of other things to consider when buying a waterfront like the lot itself, the location, and the structure. We will touch on those in the next installment of Lake Winnipesaukee Waterfront Buying Secrets.

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