Searching for Lakefront Property in Lake County California

A unique feature about living in Lake County, California is actually owning property with lake front. It’s exciting for me to hand the keys over to a new home owner of lake front property because I know one of the things on their mind is to go for that first boat ride and come home to park the boat at their own boat dock.  Water skiing, sailing, kayaking, fishing and moonlight cruises are just a few of the simple pleasures of living on the Clear Lake.  

There are options and price ranges and things to know when it comes to searching for lakefront property in Lake County and I will be happy  to assist you with your lakefront search.  You can find everything from the simplest lakefront cabin or bungalow to luxury homes on large lakefront parcels.  I recommend that you first come to the area and familiarize yourself with the various venues around the lake.  Lower cost alternatives to living directly on the lake are properties in waterfront channels.  Waterfront Channel properties will still provide you with access to the lake. Waterfront Channel properties can be found in areas like the Clearlake Keys located in Clearlake Oaks and in Lakeport there is Corinthian Bay, Lands End, Pier 1900 and Lakeport Lagoons. The City of Clearlake has a waterfront channel community called Highlands Harbor. The other thing to know is that if lakefront or channel front property is still beyond financial reach then you might consider another option. There are Home Owner Associations (HOAs) like the Riviera West, Riviera Heights that have marinas on the lake for home owners that live in those communities.  More exclusive areas like Buckingham Park in Kelseyville and Paradise Cove in Lucerne also provide home owners with a place to launch boats and tie up for the day.  Most of our lakefront communities have public boat launch facilities that are free to the public.

You can start searching for lake front property from my website.  I offer open access to the multiple listings in  Lake County. To start searching just click on the Property Search tab on my home page.  Select the county, the price range and be sure to check the box that says waterfront then scroll down and click on the pull down menu that says lot features. Look for a description under lot features that says “On Lake Front”.  Once you have done this you can initiate the search by clicking on the find properties button at the bottom of the page.  If you aren’t getting any results it may mean that you need to adjust the price range and try again.

Things to investigate when buying vacant land.

Things to investigate when buying vacant land in rural areas

Lake County is primarily a rural environment and living here is truly “country living”. Not sure what that means? Well here are some bits of information to help guide you as you investigate a property.  The information provided herein will not address every conceivable situation in Lake County but will provide you with some basic direction on how to go about doing an investigation of a piece of property.     There are many other details to investigate about a property but these are some of the basic items and I hope this information will help you and if you have any questions please ask me for assistance.

Property Boundaries – Some properties in Lake County have not been surveyed.  Do not rely on the information in the listing as it is often an approximation, always verify.  Some things to look for:

  1. Is there a survey of record?    Check with the County or City Planning Dept.
  2. Get a parcel map from the county public works dept or city if within city limits.
  3. Does it look like there might be an encroachment problem?
  4. Are there any boundary disputes with the neighbors?
  5. Does it fall within a Home Owners Association (HOA)?
  6. Do the property lines look like the parcel map?

Easements, Permits and Intergovernmental Agreements

  1. Are there any easements or permits such as drainage, utility or access easements?
  2. Are there any Intergovernmental agreements that provide right of way acquisitions for various reasons.  Check schedule B of the Preliminary Report
  3. Easements – Does the preliminary report map track with items in schedule B of the preliminary report?
  4. Any unused easements?
  5. Any closed or abandoned roads.
  6. View easements (height restrictions on buildings)
  7. Equestrian Trails
  8. Conservation or other restrictions

Home Owner Associations (HOAs)

Lake County has many HOAs.  If your purchasing property in an HOA you need to know what are the HOA dues or recurring fees if any for living there and any proposed changes to the fees. You should also see a copy of the rules or covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and the By-Laws.  You should recieve disclosures from the HOA showing all known material facts about the HOA including their financial status, any pending litigation and other known issues that will affect your living there. Some HOAs have this documentation for review on a website but be sure to contact the HOA directly to verify if the content on thier website is up-to-date.  The following HOAs have websites with information available to review including:  Hidden Valley Lake,  Clear Lake Riviera Community Association, Riviera West,  Riviera Heights, Buckingham Park.


Buying land site-unseen in Lake County is not something I would recommend to anyone.  If you buy property on the side of a very steep hillside you better be prepared for a lot of added development costs:

  1. Hillsides: Any history of landslides?
  2. Drainage:  How does rain water pass through the property?  Are there areas of standing water.
  3. Flood Areas:  If your buying in a designated flood hazard area you may need to look into what requirements the county will have for constructing homes in those areas.  Look into Flood Insurance availability and lend-ability.
  4. Fire Hazard areas, check to see how far are you to a fire hydrant or fire station.
  5. Wind.  Some areas get a lot of wind.  If this is something that matters to you then look into it. Some telltale signs are hills with little vegetation or trees.
  6. Fault lines – The county should have maps and information readily available


We have several state highways in Lake County including HWY 20, Hwy 29, Hwy 53 and Hwy 179. Other roads are either city roads, county roads or private roads.  Some private roads have maintenance agreements and others have no maintenance agreements and are not maintained at all. If you are purchasing a property that has a private road with a maintenance agreement some of the things you should look into are:

  • Is the agreement recorded with the county and is it enforceable?
  • If it is recorded does it go with the property? (Check County or City Recorders Office).
  • Is the agreement with current owners? (Check County or City Recorders Office)
  • Does it need to be up dated or should it be re-written  (Consult an attorney)
  • Are there regular maintenance costs?
  • Is there history of what maintenance has been performed and what were the costs?
  • What is the current condition?
  • Who maintains the road
  • How are decisions made about repairs.
  • Is the road in a county benefit zone. (Check County or City Recorders Office).
  • Are there build-able lots on the road?
  • Any provision in the agreement for collections?


What can or cannot be done with the property?  Check the zoning ordinance with the County or City Planning Dept, Lake County zoning ordinances are posted and viewable on the County of Lake website.


Water may be one of the most important issues to check on when buying property in Lake County. How is it provided?

  1. Well
  2. Pulled from the lake, river or stream,
  3. Private or Mutual Shared,
  4. Municipal.
  5. Is water available without power generation? Is it gravity fed, Hand Pumped, or Generator Operated?

Well Water

You may consider hiring a well or pump company to help you investigate questions about well water and water pulled from a lake, river or other body of water.

  1. How many wells are there?
  2. Where are the well/s located?
  3. Is the well abandoned or dried up?
  4. Is the well for Agriculture purposes only?
  5. Was it installed with a permit?
  6. Was it certified by the County Environmental Health Dept?
  7. Has there been past tests at the source or from within the house?
  8. Does the well dry up during the hot months.
  9. What is the flow rate in gallons per minute (GPM).  This is very important to know if your planning on doing a lot of irrigating.
  10. What is in the water? Note: some areas in the county have hot water and heavy concentrations of iron or boron.
  11. Is the water potable? If not can it be treated?
  12. Does the water have an odor?
  13. Well tests quantity should include:
  • Capacity vs Expected use. How many users, household vs Ag use.
  • History:  Output Summer vs Winter. What was worst case history?
  • Was water ever trucked in?

14. Pump inspection:

  • Casing
  • Plumbing
  • Pump itself
  • Electrical.
  • Storage Tanks.
  • Filtration
  • Routine maintenance and typical maintenance costs.

Private or Mutual or Shared Water:

  1. Where is it from?
  2. How many wells and are there storage tanks,
  3. Are there recorded easements
  4. Are they tested.
  5. History of repairs, adequacy.
  6. Any special assessments for upgrades?
  7. Who maintains and manages it?
  8. If water is provided through an Home Owners Association (HOA) is it recorded and how are decisions made?
  9. Are there financials and reserves available?
  10. What is the remaining life of the equipment?
  11. Are there any pending system upgrades
  12. Are there any moratoriums or cease and desist orders from the county or state to connect to the system.  This is very important to know if you’re purchasing vacant land.

Septic and Sewer:

Seems appropriate to save this part at the tail end.  Septic systems may seem a bit intimidating for folks who are use to having a sewer system.  Many properties in Lake County are on septic systems. The bottom line is you need to know if the property is connected to a sewer system or does it have or need a septic system.  If not then you need to know what it will cost to connect to a sewer system or the cost to install a septic system and know what kind of septic system is permitted by the County to be installed.   Resources for help with this include the Lake County Department of Environmental health, Lake County Special Districts, and local septic companies that install and inspect septic systems. If the property has a septic systems then I highly recommend that buyers get a septic inspection.  You need to know what type of septic systems it is what capacity it has, how well it functions and if it needs repair.  There are engineered septic systems being used in Lake County and most of these systems will need routine maintenance since they have mechanical and electrical components.

Contacts and Resources:

  • Any items in the preliminary report contact the Title Officer.
  • County Community Development and Planning:  707-263-2221
  • Special Districts:  Water and Sewer:  707-263-0119
  • Lake County Environmental Health Dept:  707-263-1164
  • County Public Works: 707-263-2341
  • If property is within an HOA contact the HOA.
  • City of Lakeport   707-263-5613
  • City of Clearlake  707-994-8201