Buying a house at the lake is the same as buying a house anywhere, right?
Well, in many respects yes, however, there are some things you may want to consider that are unique to buying a lake home.
Yes, I know, the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. But in this case I am talking about what part of the lake are you on. Tims Ford can be viewed as three sections- upper, middle, and lower. There is also the Elk River which is what was dammed up to create Tims Ford Lake back in 1966-70.
The upper section has no marinas and just a few boat ramps. While this end still sees it’s fair share of boat traffic, one could argue it may not be as crowded on a busy day. All of the marinas are located in the middle and lower sections of the lake and they draw a lot of boaters looking for fuel, food and supplies, not to mention the many vessels that are docked there. The downside is if you need fuel or wish to stop and grab a bite to eat you will have a little bit longer drive to get to one of the four marinas on the lake.
In the middle section of the lake you will find Tims Ford Marina, Holiday Marina, and Lakeview Marina (located inside Tims Ford State Park). Obviously this draws a lot of traffic on the water during summer weekends. The upside to this area though is you are close to several options for fuel, food and entertainment. All of the marinas, with the exception of Lakeview, offer live music on Saturday nights in the summer as well as some great food! Another bonus is that since you are in the middle of the lake you can navigate to the upper and lower end quickly, it just depends on what you are in the mood for on a given day.
On the lower end you will find Twin Creeks Marina, the newest facility on the lake. It has certainly boosted traffic on this end of the reservoir as well, but is nice having a first class marina close by. The lower end is also where you will find the Elk River, which is usually not as crowded on those busy days, if you prefer things a little calmer.
Speaking of the Elk, there are homes located on the river as well. The river is wide in most places, and there is definitely less traffic to deal with, however it can be a long ride to the main lake and the marinas.
Ultimately, location may not matter to you, but it helps to understand the lake and what is in each area. View, privacy, and tranquility are all related to location, so it is worth considering.
Year Round Water
If you are looking for a lakefront home with a dock, you might ask if the dock has year round water. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) lowers the water levels in it’s reservoirs in preparation for winter and spring storms. Usually beginning around October the water levels at Tims Ford will start dropping. Normally there is a 13-15 foot difference in summer pool and winter pool. While I don’t really know the exact percentage, it seems like roughly 80% of the docks on the lake are sitting high and dry during the winter months or at minimum too shallow to use. The water levels generally begin to start rising again in March-April, and quickly return to summer pool. Now I know not having your dock be usable sounds bad, but remember, this is during the winter months. Most people aren’t getting out on the water during this time anyway and many take their boats out to winterize and store them when summer is over.
I do not have water under my dock year round. While it would be nice, I honestly don’t think it makes a big difference to me, however it may to others. So just consider it if it is important to you. Keep in mind, if you do want year round water, it will narrow down your options, as most properties do not have it.
Is There a Dock?
So, do you even want a dock? Most people do, but what if the house you love doesn’t have one? Don’t just assume that you can put one in. The TVA has to approve you for a dock permit first. Before you buy the house, make sure that it is already permitted for a dock or call the TVA to see if they will allow it. If a dock is important to you, the last thing you want to do is buy the house, only to find out you can’t have a dock! So just do your due diligence before making any decisions.
And lastly, what about storage? Why do so many lake homes have limited storage? Closet space, garage space, etc can be tough to find in a lot of homes at the lake. The reason? Many were built as a second home/weekend retreat. With this in mind, storage usually took the backseat when building. So take a good look at those closets when touring homes. Will you be living here full time? It makes a difference. Do you have a huge wardrobe or shoe collection? Just make sure the home works for your needs.
These are some of the things to think about when searching for your dream home on the lake.
Now let’s get out on the water!
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