Dog on deck of lakefront home

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Lake Towns With Best Bargains on Homes

July 9, 2018

Waterfront property is a hot commodity, but finding an affordable place with a view can prove challenging. “If you want to be on a larger body of water, you’re typically going to pay more. ... You’ll have more fishing opportunities, boating opportunities, and recreational [and dining] opportunities,” Jim Billig, president of Sportman’s Connection, told realtor.com®. “The smaller lakes ... are going to be more affordable."

Realtor.com®’s research team scoured the site's listings to find some of the most affordable lake towns for home buyers. But prices are still rising in these areas, so they are strong investments as well. Realtor.com® analyzed such factors as price appreciation from June 2015 to May 2018, the percentage of vacation homes in each area, the number of food and recreational establishments per capita, the number of outdoor activities, and the number of listings at realtor.com® that reference a “lake.” Researchers narrowed the list to one town per state to ensure geographic diversity. They also excluded places that had median list prices above $600,000.

The following towns landed at the top of realtor.com®’s list:

1. Branson, Mo.

  • Median home list price: $217,500
  • 2-year price appreciation: 17.6%

2. Baraboo, Wis.

  • Median home list price: $234,950
  • 2-year price appreciation: 31.5%

3. Brainerd, Minn.

  • Median home list price: $289,950
  • 2-year price appreciation: 18.3%

4. Traverse City, Mich.

  • Median home list price: $327,050
  • 2-year price appreciation: 17.8%

5. Gardnerville Ranchos, Nev.

  • Median home list price: $575,000
  • 2-year price appreciation: 23.4%

6. Port Clinton, Ohio

  • Median home list price: $254,900
  • 2-year price appreciation: 11.4%