By Sandy Ebben, Vice President, Rhinelander office
Real estate agents are often asked what the ‘going rate’ for water frontage is. The answer is ‘it depends’.
There are many variables in determining the value of a lake lot. The first is the lake itself. There are lakes in the Northern Wisconsin that command premium prices and lakes that don’t. Trout Lake and Lake Tomahawk are premium lakes. Mud Lake is not.
Features of the lake that determine value are:
Lake Size and Depth. A 3000 acre lake appeals to more buyers than a 20 acre lake. Larger lakes are better recreational lakes than smaller lakes. The depth of the lake will also affect recreation on the lake. A shallow lake may have very few fish in it and can be very weedy and less appealing than a deep lake.
Lakes on a Chain. The more lakes you can get to the higher the price.
Lake Clarity Lakes in Northern Wisconsin range from crystal clear to dark brown. Clear water lakes are more popular for swimming and boating. Darker lakes tend to have better fishing.
How developed is the lake. A lake with a home or cottage ever 100 feet is not as appealing as a lake that has a lot of wild, undeveloped shoreline, especially if its State Forest lands.
The second consideration in pricing water frontage is the physical features of the land. The slope of the lot to the water is an important feature. If the description says "ideal for an exposed basement" you can expect to climb some stairs to get to the beach. "Fisherman’s frontage" means you aren’t going to be swimming off your shoreline.’Southern exposure’ means you will have the sun on your shoreline most of the day. A lot on the south end of the lake has ‘northern exposure’ and will be in the shade most of the time.
So the answer to the question is that lake frontage sells for between $100 and $6,000 a foot in the Northwood’s. A one acre lot with 217 feet of frontage on Trout Lake (a 117’ deep, 3916 acre lake in Boulder Junction) sold for $1,350,000 in 2005. A lot on Fickle Lake (a 26’ deep 10 acre lake in Price County) sold for $21,000 in January 2007. .
So next time you go shopping for lake property tell your agent that you want “a large wooded lot with southern exposure, sandy beach, gradual slope to the water, next to State land on a clear water lake that is over 500 acres and part of a chain"–and your price range is under $100,000. Then let me know what you find.