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How to find & buy a lake house in the Lakes Region

Written by Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc.
For many individuals the thought of owning a lake home is a dream. For others it becomes a reality...a dream come true. For some it is a weekend getaway, for others, a permanent year-round residence or semi-retirement home.
During my 36 year career in real estate I've often found we are motivated by fond childhood memories of vacationing at a lake or ocean cottage. The sounds of waves lapping gently at the shoreline of a lake, the chilling call of a loon, and days spent on the water are reminders of our early years at the lake. The sounds of crashing waves, the scent of salt air, long sandy beaches, and fresh-caught seafood bring childhood memories at the ocean.
There are so many choices: lakes, ocean, ski resort, or golf course. So many clients have commented over the years the #1 reason they selected the Lakes Region was pure location. They found they got the best year-round value for their money to enjoy all 4 seasons. Sure, everyone loves the ocean. But what do you do during the winter months? You can't ski, snowboard, cross-country ski, snowmobile, or ice fish at the ocean. And consider boating, waterskiing, kayaking, and swimming: It's simply a lot harder and colder at the ocean and not as "user friendly" as the lake.
Here's the answer:
The Lakes Region is only an hour's drive to NH's seacoast (Rye Beach and Hampton Beach) and is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Ogunquit Beach in Maine. So on those days when you're looking for a change of pace, salty air, crashing waves, and fried clams it's an easy day trip back and forth. That's the beauty of our stunning Lakes Region area...pure demographics and distance, a taste for all seasons: lakes, rivers, mountains, golf courses, skiing, hiking and the ocean nearby. The Lakes Region is less than a 2-hour drive from the Boston market, which is very appealing. The White Mountain National Forest with its 750,852 acres of forests, towering peaks, rivers, and ski areas is just up the road. Vermont and Maine attractions are a day trip away, and the aura of Canada is only 3 hours away. Try getting this combination in Colorado, Florida, or Utah. Great states but bring your airline tickets or plan on a lengthy road trip.

So now that you've defined your search for a lake house, what's the next step?

• Decide the distance. How far from your primary home?
Lakes are found all over the United States. A lake in NH will likely freeze over in the winter, offering you different sports like ice skating, ice fishing, ice boating, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. While a lake in Florida, Georgia, or the Carolinas may be warmer, you limit yourself with no winter activities. Additionally, the plant growth and habitat may not be as pristine as NH due to the extreme heat.
The consensus is that a 2-3 hour drive from home seems manageable. If you purchase something 6-8 hours away, will family and friends use it as well? So driving distance and traffic concerns must be considered for others. How close is the nearest airport, and how does the schedule look for incoming flights? Manchester NH Airport is so convenient and easy to use. For private planes, the Laconia/Gilford Airport is perfect.
• What size lake is important?
If you're an avid boater and love exploring different towns, islands, and restaurants, a lake the size of Winnipesaukee offers more variety and places to visit than a 300-1,000 acre lake. For others, the peacefulness, tranquility, and calm waters of a small lake or pond fit the bill better. You can still enjoy playing with your grandchildren on a small beach, go fishing with them, and take in some aerobic exercise while kayaking.
In addition to Lake Winnipesaukee there are 273 lakes, ponds, and rivers to enjoy in NH's "Lakes Region." 
www.RocheRealty.com is a great resource to start your search...Simply click "NH Lakes" for photos, lake statistics, and listings to provide you with a great overview, from 79 acre scenic ponds to the "Big Lake" with 44,568 acres and 274 islands.
• Find an agent who "knows" the lakes intimately.
Think about it. There are hundreds of Realtors® out there. They all sell real estate. How many of them have lived on a lake, lived lakeside in a water access community, or lived on an island? When you select a doctor, you likely research how many procedures they've performed in their specialty. There are many Realtors® who have never driven a boat, never mind own one. There are many technical questions relating to the NH Shoreland Protection Act, dock permitting, septic site assessment studies, and aquatic lake plants that need explanation. So to ensure a seamless closing — and ultimately a sound investment — seek the services of a professional Realtor® with a solid background in "Lake Property Sales."
• What type of boat traffic?
Are you seeking tranquility, with a quiet lapping of the waves? Boat turbulence and congestion are important considerations. On NH's largest lake you can still find peace and tranquility, depending on location, weather, and peak periods. Some locations offer long-range panoramic views and large open water, while others offer scenic, quiet coves in less traveled locations. Many ponds and smaller lakes have certain boating or Jet Ski restrictions. Study the rules carefully before purchasing. You might want the pond or small lake for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing only. On the other hand, if you're big into boating and socializing, the variety of restaurants, activities, towns, and islands to explore on Winnipesaukee are unlimited. Talk with future neighbors and residents and get their valuable input on boating traffic in the immediate area.
• Research nearby amenities.
Are there any marinas nearby? What if my boat breaks down or I need gas? Can friends find a nearby launch for their boats? How close is the nearest supermarket, convenience store, gas station, or restaurant? Activities for the children and proximity to cultural activities like music venues, summer theatre, concerts, movie theaters, craft fairs, etc. could be very important. Also, study the future impact of neighboring properties, zoning regulations, and commercial properties nearby.
• Lake/boating regulations.
Are there speed limits on the lake? Horsepower restrictions? Are Jet Skis allowed? No wake zones? Will bridges limit sailboats? What about water-skiing regulations? Dock size regulations? Are breakwaters allowed? Can you install a "perched beach"? Setback requirements and tree-cutting must conform to the NH Shoreland Protection Act. All of this information is helpful to make an informed real estate decision.
• Understand the difference between "Lakefront" and "Water Access Communities."
There are many choices. Most of us have a vision of a cozy lake cottage sitting right on the water on its own lot and lake frontage. There are however many alternatives that make a lot of sense. There are many fine "water access communities" throughout the Lakes Region that offer beautiful beaches, boat docking facilities, and other amenities like clubhouses, tennis courts, indoor/outdoor pools, etc. Some of these communities are beautifully landscaped and offer all sorts of product choices, architecture designs, and different price ranges. Some offer boat storage racks with boat forklifts, individual deeded boat slips, or mooring fields. The prices of the water access communities are very appealing when compared to private lake homes. Still, there's nothing like owning your own lakefront home right on the water. With 240 miles of shoreline on Lake Winnipesaukee alone...the choices are unlimited. Another reason why you should seek the guidance of a qualified "Lake Professional Realtor®" to help you navigate through the "waters."
• Fishermen—know your lakes!
Visit the Fish and Game website (www.wildlife.state.nh.us), visit local bait and tackle stores, talk with the locals. All of the lakes are different. Lake salmon, rainbow trout, small mouth bass, brook trout, perch—there are so many "special spots," but how do you find them on the charts? How about fishing derbies and ice fishing derbies as well as bass tournaments? Which lakes and when are they held? Also, who stocks the lake with fish and when?
• Understand water depths.
Be informed and understand the difference between a gradual sandy beach or a drop off of 20 ft. right from the shoreline. What's important: young children on a gradual sandy beach or teenagers who love to "dive in" to deeper water? Will a mooring accommodate your sailboat? Are there many rocks or outcroppings in the immediate area? How safe is the docking from the "prevailing wind?" Will a stone breakwater be necessary for safe docking while you're away? How about boat lifts? Will access to your dock be difficult because of shallow rocks? Will you need a dredge permit? Try out the waterfront before you sign on the dotted line and see what the bottom feels like. Is it deep enough? I've had clients use an ice auger in the middle of the winter and drill a hole in the ice to see the depths and if it was a sandy bottom.
• Research water quality and aquatic plant growth.
All lakes are different. Winnipesaukee's deepest spot is approx. 212'; Crescent Lake's (Wolfeboro) average depth is only 25' and its deepest spot is 80'. Milfoil and other invasive lake plant species can be found on many lakes and especially in shallow coves where there's a lot of boating traffic or no circulation. Water clarity is often better in deeper sections of the lake or where there's an active current. Newfound Lake, for instance, has crystal clear waters generated from numerous underground springs and water inflow. "The Broads" of Lake Winnipesaukee are similar. Some sections of the lakes may have a brackish water color due to minerals in the water, logging, plant/tree decay, water circulation, etc. A good source for information is the NH Department of Environmental Services (www.des.state.nh.us) and the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association (www.winnipesaukee.org) as well as www.winnipesaukeegateway.org. In any case, know the water quality and the best way is to try it out, walk around, feel the bottom, take a swim, and use a depth finder on your boat (a valuable tool). Extensive aquatic growth may be fine for naturalists, fishermen, kayakers, etc. but for swimming it can be a nuisance and take away from property values.
• Don't purchase a boat before your home.
I've seen some over anxious clients make this mistake. First, pick a lake that fits your lifestyle. There are 10 horsepower limitations on some small ponds and lakes. Pontoon boats are popular on some lakes, while 23-28 ft. boats and cabin cruisers might be preferred on larger/rougher lakes. Know the maximum size boat your dock will accommodate. Also check the permitting of the dock or mooring. Modifications or enlargement of the docking system made without obtaining the necessary local and state permits at the wetlands board—you don't want to find out after the fact. Do your due diligence first with a qualified Realtor®.
• Understand the difference between southwesterly exposure and northern or eastern exposure.
This is probably one of the most important issues for many buyers. Westerly exposure will add 3-4 hours of sunshine to your day—sometimes more—and will also extend warmer days as fall approaches. Blazing sunsets will also prevail. On the other hand, if you have fair skin and prefer to be out of the sun, cooler in the summer, and enjoy the sunrises and wake early, facing north or easterly might be the perfect solution. Also, where are the prevailing winds coming from? These are all important decisions.
In summary, rely on the experience of a professional Realtor® who specializes in the sale of all types of lake properties. At Roche Realty Group our professional Realtors® will make the process as effortless as possible with the ultimate goal being your satisfaction. Let us help you make your lifetime dream become a reality. Our Realtors® can be reached by phone at our Meredith Office (603) 279-7046, at our Laconia Office (603) 528-0088, or online via our website, www.rocherealty.com. Enjoy those sunrises and sunsets, loon calls, gentle breezes, and the lapping of the crystal clear water with your family in this cherished lake environment.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Correction: talk at Wicwas Grange is Tuesday

MEREDITH — An article that appeared in yesterday's edition listed an incorrect day for a talk at the Wicwas Grange in Meredith. Dr. Francis R. Gouin, professor at the University of Maryland, will speak about fertilizer on Tuesday, August 26, at 6 p.m.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 11:05

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Antique Appraisal Day & flea market on Aug. 30

LACONIA — Lake Winnipesaukee Museum is hosting an "Antiques Appraisal Day" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 30. 

There will be three experts on hand to appraise items. A $5 fee per item will be charged and the proceeds will benefit the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society. During this event there will also be an opportunity to meet local authors, purchase books and have them signed.

Brendan Smith, author of "The Flatlander Chronicles", Carol Lee Anderson, author of "A History of the Belknap Mill", "The History of Gunstock" and "The New England Life of Cartoonist Bob Montana" and Ron Guilmette, author and photographer of his newly released book, "Islands of Winnipesaukee" will also be present at the event. A flea market will be going on from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information call 366-5950. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 09:53

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Winni Playhouse holding auditions for 2 productions

MEREDITH — Winnipesaukee Playhouse will soon be holding auditions for two upcoming productions. Auditions will be taking place on Sunday, September 7  at 6 p.m. and Monday, September 8 at 7 p.m. for both Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water and a staged radio play called Donovan's Brain by Curt Siodmak.

Written in 1966, Allen's comedy is set an unnamed European country behind the Iron Curtain. It's the mid-1960s and paranoia and Cold War antics run rampant! The American Ambassador has left the Embassy on business and places his incompetent son Axel Magee in charge. Immediately, the Embassy is thrust into a crisis as the Hollanders, an American family on vacation, come rushing into the Embassy on the run from the Communist Secret Police. Walter Hollander, the father, has accidentally wandered into a high security area and taken pictures, causing the communists to believe that the family are spies. Axel digs the hole deeper and the embassy is surrounded, leaving the Hollanders trapped. 

Don't Drink the Water has 16 roles for men and women of all ages. It will be directed by Charles Fray and Johanna Halperin. Performances will be November 13 through 16 and the play is rehearsing on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Auditioners need only attend one of the audition dates and the audition will consist of cold readings from the script.

Donovan's Brainwill be adapted and directed by Brett Billings. One of the most popular sci-fi thrillers of the World War II years, Donovan's Brain shares the harrowing story of Dr.Patrick Cory's vaulting ambition to conquer nature and experiment with a mechanical soul.

"Where does life begin and where does it end?" he writes in his casebook. "In the eyes of the world, Donovan is dead, but his brain lives on. Does that mean Donovan is still alive?" Much like Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Cory (originally played by Orson Wells) falls victim to his experiment and must contend with the deadly consequences as the brain's power grows more and more sinister. Adapted from the popular radio program, Suspense, this production will focus on radio theater as a unique style of story telling, and will appeal to those interested in World War II, science fiction, and unique theater experiences. 

Participants should expect an unusual rehearsal process filled with play. Following radio theater formulas lines do not need to be memorized and auditions will be cold readings in front of a microphone. This is an excellent introduction for newcomers to the community theater stage. No preparation is necessary. Rehearsals will be primarily Tuesdays and Thursdays. Show dates are Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25.

For more information, visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org or call (603) 279-0333.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 09:50

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