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Tips for Buying & Selling on Lake Norman

We’ve been living on Lake Norman for several years and couldn’t be happier with our “lake life!”  Finding the right house for us took some time as there are many items to consider and research before purchasing a waterfront home.

Where to Buy on Lake Norman?

With over 520 miles of shoreline stretching across four different counties, Lake Norman has a lot to offer. If you’ve been reading through our site, you already know there are four distinctly different quadrants of Lake Norman with each one offering a wide variety of water views, terrain, homes in various price ranges and overall "vibe." So before you start your Lake Norman home search, decide what’s most important to you. The first question that should always be asked is: what type of lifestyle are you hoping to lead? Do you need to be within a certain driving distance to work, medical facilities, schools, restaurants, or shopping? Does a Target or Starbucks HAVE to be within a 10-minute drive? Do you want some elbow room created by larger lots or are you more comfortable in a condominium or a housing neighborhood controlled by an HOA?

Speaking of HOA’s
Northern Lake Norman
Southern Lake Norman

Most waterfront communities around Lake Norman, especially those in the southern corners, are subject to a homeowner's association (HOA) or at the least CC&Rs (Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions). We know that a lot of people instinctively have a negative reaction to HOA controlled neighborhoods, but have you considered the tradeoffs? Yes, it’s nice to not have neighbors setting rules and regulations on how you manage your property, especially if they are overbearing and nosy. Who wants another layer of governance in their lives?  However, your Lake Norman home will be a considerable investment. So, you need to ask yourself, "am I okay with not having any influence as to how my next-door neighbor(s) uses their property?" We see it all the time, a new multi-million-dollar home being built next to a neglected property with junk scattered across the front yard. Now YOU may not have a problem with this, but what happens if/when you decide to sell your beautiful home? Do you think this could be a problem for potential buyers? Just something to think about.

Consider BOTH Water Views & Location

The majority of Lake Norman’s shoreline is made up of dozens and dozens of coves, some wider/larger than others. There are properties with wide open, 180-degree, long-range views of the water, and then properties with very narrow and short water views (almost like you’re living on a creek). Is simply having access to the lake and a place to dock your boat enough? If so, purchasing a home at the end of a cove may be an ideal situation for you. Or, if a water view isn’t important at all, an even more affordable option may be purchasing an off-water home that comes with a deeded boat slip OR taking advantage of one the lake’s many boat clubs.

There are several Lake Norman neighborhoods that offer lake access to off-water homes which makes living on the lake much more affordable. But, if you want the whole package (views AND access), you’ll have to dig a little deeper into your bank account. Keep in mind, the size and style of your boat could also dictate where you can buy a home on Lake Norman. Several bridges cross the northern sections of the lake and will limit most large sailboats and yachts to the main channel. So, if you have dreams of owning a 50-foot mega-yacht, buying a home in Sherrills Ford may not be your best option.

Lake Norman Views
Ahh, Yes.  The Budget. :-(

How much are you willing to spend? In our current Lake Norman market, if the price is “too good to be true,” it is. Waterfront price tags vary wildly depending on the views, house size, lot size, amount of waterfront shoreline, and location. You can find homes in most every price range no matter what corner of Lake Norman you’re searching in. Just remember that you’ll typically get more for your money on the west and northwest corners, but you might have to sacrifice proximity to shopping and dining options. Even though development is happening in all four corners of Lake Norman, the better deals and lower tax rates are still found the further north and west you go.

Lake Norman Home Buying
Lake Norman Docks
What You're Permitted To Do

Duke Energy’s Lake Services is responsible for permitting all activities/structures on the shores of Lake Norman, so if you’re purchasing a home on Lake Norman, it’s very important to confirm with Duke that all piers, docks, and boat houses are legally allowed to be on the property. If a house does not already have a dock, the new homeowner should not assume they’d be able to build one. It’s also important to confirm that any desired updating of the shoreline stabilization (sea walls) is allowable. Can you imagine buying your lakefront dream home only to be denied access to the lake? It has happened so please work with qualified people who understand these nuances when buying a home on Lake Norman.

If you’re buying waterfront property, you’ll need to request proof of permits from the sellers during the Due Diligence period. For buyers, this part of the process can be a complete pain in the neck if the sellers don’t have permits readily available since Duke doesn’t release proof of permits to anyone but the person whose name is attached to the permit. So, listen up Mr. and Mrs. Waterfront Seller, if you have a pier or dock that’s permitted by Duke but is under a different name than yourselves, please start the process of getting this permit transferred into your name BEFORE placing your house on the market. It can take several weeks and will save everyone a lot of unnecessary stress.

Sunset or Sunrise?  Think About It.

Many people think they want that beautiful sunset view over the water before realizing what exactly that could mean. This is the south, it gets hot during the summer months and if your home backs up to a western view, prepare to have your face melted off during late afternoon hours. Yes, you’ll have fantastic sunset views, but your backyard and deck may be unusable from 3:00-6:00 PM every day!

Lake Norman Sunset
Pervy Area.  (Not What You Think - Get Your Mind Outta The Gutter!)

Yes, local governments require a certain percentage of waterfront properties to be pervious (areas of your property that allow water to pass through). These watershed regulations typically don’t come into play unless a particular lot has been way overbuilt. There are legal ways to circumvent these regulations, and this is where we recommend contacting a reputable real estate attorney.


There are a whole list of other items we recommend considering before purchasing a Lake Norman home, such as a survey, the required type of insurance, internet speeds, and quality of cell service available for the property. We’re happy to share everything we’ve learned over the years living on Lake Norman, please feel free to contact us with more questions.

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