Questions a first time lakeshore buyer might ask?

  1. How are lakeshore prices determined in the Brainerd Lakes Area?
  2. What about wells and skeptics in the Brainerd Lakes Area?
  3. Seasonal vs. year-round lakeshore property?
  4. What about set backs and lot sizes in the Brainerd Lakes Area?

How are lakeshore prices determined?

If this is the first time you have purchased Lake Shore property or have not made a recent purchase this information may be of value to you.

Three things determine lakeshore prices. First is the size of the lake. As a general rule the bigger the lake the bigger the price. That is up until you get to the really big water like Leech and Mille Lacs. Many people are frightened of the very large open water and the conditions high winds can bring. The chains of lakes provide the best of both worlds with hours of boating and smaller lakes for good boating on even very windy days.

The next factor determining lakeshore prices is elevation. There is only so much level sandy lakeshore and most of it was built on years ago. Common sense would dictate there is a higher demand for level elevation but many people are starting to enjoy the panoramic view elevation provides. There are hill climbers or hill-aviators available, which are reliable and can get you up and down the hill in a jiffy.

Type of shoreline is the next determining factor in price. Sandy shoreline of is in highest demand and of course has the highest price tag. Many people are fine with a hard bottom weather it be sand or gravel. Softer and weedy shorelines are lower in value although many people are ok with a natural or undeveloped shore as long as there is an area for wading and swimming. It is possible to put in a sand blanket with just an over the counter permit from the Minnesota DNR. It is also possible to do weed removal and regulations vary with emergent and non-emergent vegetation. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a complete web site explaining regulations and permit procedures at: As a general rules sand blankets may be up to not more than half of you shore line and weeds can be managed to provide a 10 foot passage way to open water.

The third pricing consideration is location. Lakes with in a three-hour drive of a major metropolitan area demand higher prices than those further away. The three-hour travel time seems to be where most people draw the line for a weekend commute. Many lakeshore owners sneak out early on Fridays and stay over Sundays and make an early traffic free commute on Monday morning.

There are other location factors as well, such as the drive time to local amenities, sunrises versus sunsets and so on.

What about wells and septic?

Most of the time your lakeshore property will have its own well. There are two basic types of well, the drilled well or a shallow well often called a driven or sand point well. In Minnesota drilled wells must be at least 50' deep. In almost all cases the pump for the well is down in the well itself. Shallow wells consist of a pipe with a sharp hollow point on the end, covered by a screen, driven in to the ground till it hits water. Usually not more than 15-20 feet. In an effort to eliminate the shallow wells currently in use, Minnesota regulations prohibit plumbers and well drillers from installing or servicing shallow wells, leaving it up to the home owner to either maintain the system them selves or have a drilled well installed.

Both drilled and shallow wells will have a pressure tank on the surface. Remember, you will not have any water when the power goes out.

Septic systems come in two varieties pressurized systems and gravity systems. Both systems have a line running from the house to a solids tank. With gravity systems the solids tank over flows in to series or perforated pipes, which disperse the affluent, (potty water) where it is absorbed into the soil. With a pressurized system the solids tanks over flows into another tank. This tank is equipped with a pump, which pumps the affluent into a drain field or a mound system. Mound systems are used where the ground water table is high or if the soil is not absorbent, as in the case of abundant clay. When the power goes out the gravity system will continue to work. The pressurized system will back up once the pressure tank is full. Not to worry, because if the power is out you probably will not have much water anyway!

Seasonal versus Year-round?

Other than the obvious fact that you can use a year-round place in the winter there is another benefit to a year-round lake home. If it is year round it can go on the secondary market for financing. Seasonal properties are most often financed through local banks were the notes are held and serviced in house often at a higher interest rate and with a larger down payment required. The "in house" loans usually have a balloon after 5 years or more.

What makes a lake property year-round? There are four requirements. First it must have a water source that can be used in the winter. Second it must have a central heating system and third it must have storm windows or double pane energy windows and fourth it must have some insulation. There have been situations where people have taken a seasonal cabin, blown in some insulation, installed storm widows and put in electric base board heat just to qualify as year-round for finical purposes.

What about set backs and lot sizes and all that?

There are three classifications of lakes in Minnesota. General development lakes, recreational development lakes and natural environment lakes. Each has varied requirements.

Natural Environment Lakes usually have less than 150 total acres, less than 60 acres per mile of shoreline, and less than three dwellings per mile of shoreline. They may have some winterkill of fish; may have shallow, swampy shoreline; and are less than 15 feet deep.
Recreational Development Lakes usually have between 60 and 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline, between 3 and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
General Development Lakes usually have more than 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
General development lakes require that lots are 30,000 square feet with 12,000 build able, require a 100' lot width and have a 75' foot set back from the high water mark. Recreational development lakes require 20,000 square feet with 16,000 build able 150-lot width and a 100' set back from the water. Natural environment lakes require 80,000 square feet with 40,000 build able, a lot width of 200' and a building set back of 150'