The emerging luxury real estate sector is seeing a lot of buyer interest directed at sea-facing, riverside and lakefront properties as the affluent Indian consumer looks to diversify. But, before investing in a home on the waterfront, there are several nuanced pre-requisites to consider.

With an increase in spending power and an acquired taste for the latest real estate market trends, the cash strapped Indian homebuyer is venturing into the waterfront property segment. Some places in India that have a thriving industry in luxury waterfront property are Kerala, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.

Buying a home near a water body comes with its own subtleties and is altogether a different ball game than the traditional home purchase. There are plenty of factors to consider - from finding a real estate agent specialised in zeroing in on the right waterfront property for you, to taking measures to protect your household against the elements.

Finding the right real estate agent

When planning to buy a home on the waterfront, consulting with a real estate agent who is well-versed with the ins and outs of waterfront properties, should be done on priority. The right realtor can help you find a home best suited to your specific requirements while keeping in mind the constraints that come with waterfront homes. They can keep you informed about the regulatory norms of the area and even help you get the right insurance plan tailored to zones near water bodies.

Waterproofing

Maintenance may cost you an arm and a leg on frequent puttying and repainting to cover wall seepage, if proper waterproofing is not done. Special attention should be given to basement spaces, given the additional dampness caused by the ground water surrounding the space. Items stored in cold, damp areas in the house will quickly develop fungal growth if not kept dry at all times. Use silica gel and naphthalene balls and fix any leaks in pipes within the walls of these storage spaces.

Vacation home or domicile

The year-round weather patterns and seasonal temperature changes may not affect the decision of buying property near a water body if it is meant to be converted into a holiday home. But, if you decide to settle in such a location on a permanent basis, you must consider these meteorological intricacies.

You may want to refer the climate information of the locality on the Meteorological Department website or talk to a scientist from the department directly.

Flood insurance

After the deluge in August 2018, that brought Kerala to a standstill and caused crores in collateral damage, riverside property owners in the outskirts of Kochi have put up signs and advertisements to indicate that their buildings are flood-safe.

"Ever since the flood, interest for waterfront homes has dipped. We have put up advertisements reassuring flood safety and have also started offering flood insurance options for flood-prone areas to attract buyers," says Mohammad Faruq, owner of Asset Homes in Kochi.

Flood insurance policies available in India lie under three categories - river floods, coastal floods and surface floods. One can also get a cover for personal belongings.

Regulatory norms

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms were instituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to protect the natural ecosystem of coastal areas against issues like habitat fragmentation or salt runoff caused by construction activities.

"It is permitted to construct a building in areas that lie in the CRZ-II category and beyond, which is usually at least 500 m from the high tide line. A Floor Space Index (FSI) of 1.33 to 2.1 is allowed in CRZ-II areas. CRZ-III onwards, the FSI is at par with those of regions within the city limits," says Vishal Bhamare, co-owner of Property Hub, Goa.

"A distance of at least 100 m must be maintained from the banks of creeks, backwaters and rivers.  This area constitutes the sensitive part of the River Regulation Zone (RRZ). You must conduct these checks with the builders before buying a waterfront property," Bhamare adds.

Waterfront Homeowners Associations

If there is a homeowners’ association for the lake or river property, it is a good idea to be in touch with them and possibly attain a membership as well. There are subtle variations in the way these associations handle different issues related to the water body.

You can receive assistance in applying for special grants or petitions. These associations can also help you bring your voice to the appropriate authorities about your personal grievances, if any, related to living near a water body.

Before you can stretch out on a patio lounger and enjoy the view of the horizon, you need to make sure that you tick all the boxes on the pre-requisites list. All round awareness and well-informed preparedness go a long way in helping you have a great stay on the waterfront.