7 Things to Look for When Searching for Homes in Lake Oconee

7 Things to Look for When Searching for Homes in Lake Oconee

  • Riezl Baker
  • 07/25/22

Buying a house is hard enough without worrying that you’re making the wrong purchase and having to live with the repercussions. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement at the beginning, then bogged down in the stress, but it can all be managed if you know what to look for. Having a clear list will help cut down on the number of showings you have to attend and will help you make a decision faster in a particularly hot real estate market; whether you’re dreaming of a spacious mansion or a streamlined condo, here is what you should consider when searching for homes for sale on Lake Oconee.

Prime location

One of the most important things you need to look for in your future home is location. This matters on a large scale—rural or urban, on Lake Oconee or nestled in the woods—and on a smaller scale—specific neighborhoods, on the main road, or tucked away in a cul-de-sac. Maybe you love to take day trips to nearby towns and want to be able to reach the highway in a matter of minutes, or you don’t want to hear the sounds of heavy traffic. You may want the shopping opportunities of Greensboro or to live a bit further out but closer to gorgeous hiking trails. Think of what you want from your day-to-day life and factor that into the location of any home you look at.

The space

Do you need five bedrooms for kids and grandkids, or are you looking for a small and easy-to-maintain cottage with a maximum of two bedrooms? Are you looking for a lot of land and a small house or a big house with just a little yard to maintain? There’s no point looking at homes for sale on Lake Oconee that don’t fit your needs, so establish how much space you need and how much you want. Maybe you’re a couple who only need one bedroom, but you want a craft room and a separate home office. In that case, a three-bedroom home would work, but a two-bedroom cottage with a finished basement would be equally beneficial.

This extends into the size of the rooms as well. Someone who loves to cook won’t be happy in a tiny, galley-style kitchen, while someone who loves to entertain may need a large deck to host weekend summer parties. Find a house that suits your needs, and even if you have to do some minor remodels, you’ll be happier in the long run.

Architectural style

Someone who loves the simplicity and clean lines of a Craftsman house won’t love the ornate details of a Victorian. Look at different architectural styles to decide what appeals to you before looking at home listings or finding homes for sale on Lake Oconee. Suppose you want to indulge your love of nature. In that case, a midcentury home may strike your fancy, or if you desire a home as spectacular and elegant as you are, Georgians with imposing pillars may be a perfect choice. Regardless, it’s near-impossible to change the overall appearance of a home's architecture without completely demolishing and rebuilding it. If you don’t like it before you buy it, you won’t like it later.

Necessary amenities

Some people just don’t entertain the idea of a house without a pool, while others can settle for a community pool nearby. This extends to other amenities, including a fenced yard, a boat launch, or a gym, either on your property or within striking distance.

Legality and finances

Before you buy a property, make sure the breakfast nook add-on has all the proper permits in place—you don’t want to have to deal with the repercussions of breaking the law. This extends to other areas as well—is the fence too close to the property line?

You also want to consider finances from two different angles. The first is obvious: what is your budget? Don’t overspend on a house—you won’t love it anymore when you find yourself house-poor. However, the second aspect is what people often forget. What are the property taxes, homeowner association fees, and other add-on charges? They can vary significantly, even with a simple location change from the west side of Lake Oconee to the east side, or from Harbor Club to Cuscowilla. If you're torn between two houses, this could be what makes the decision for you.

The bones

Some people just don’t have an eye for interior design. You’ll likely walk into some houses and see neon orange walls or something else that gives you an instant headache. Don’t let aesthetics steer you away from a place. Look past any unfortunate issues to the bones of the home. Kitchen counters, outdated tiles, and other things can be easily changed, while a good layout that suits your lifestyle is relatively hard to find. Riezl Baker can help you see the potential in homes, so you don’t miss out on a great deal. She can even recommend a contractor for any updates and renovations that need to be done. If you are ready to start your search for homes for sale on Lake Oconee, contact Riezl today!

Dream neighbors

Before you put in an offer, walk around the neighborhood and strike up a few conversations. Are the people friendly? Do they have any gossip they’re willing to share about their closest neighbors? It may not be apparent at first glance that the house next door is full of fraternity kids who throw raging parties every weekend. Still, you may also discover your family is moving into a home with an honorary grandmother next door. The latter always has freshly baked cookies and a recipe to eliminate Japanese beetles from your gorgeous rose bushes. You’ll live next to these people for years to come, so make sure it’s a crowd you want to be around.

Lake Oconee is a popular place to live, with scenic views, a gorgeous lake, and great southern weather, and it only gets better when you find the perfect house. Riezl Baker, a knowledgeable real estate agent in the Lake Oconee area, will help you finetune your wishlist and seek the property that checks most or all of your boxes. As your personal advocate in the Lake Oconee real estate market, she’ll be available to guide you through every step, from looking at homes for sale in Lake Oconee to completing that closing paperwork so you can move in and make it truly yours.

Riezl Baker

Riezl Baker

Realtor® | Founding Principal

About The Author

Riezl Baker is an award-winning real estate agent with 22 years of real estate experience at Lake Oconee, Georgia. A resident since 1997, she is well-known for her business accomplishments and extensive community involvement. In 2020, she and her husband Ted co-founded Luxury Lake Oconee Real Estate Group to combine their over 40 years of experience in the Lake Oconee market and with a mission to provide the highest level of service to clients.
In 2022, Riezl closed over $131 million in sales and was recognized as “Top Luxury Real Estate Leader'' by The Atlantan magazine and “Real Estate Newsmaker & Achiever'' by RIS Media. She was recognized as a 2021 Top Producer after closing over 70 transactions totaling $115 million and was awarded the Crystal Phoenix Award by the Lake Country Board of REALTORS®. 
She is passionate about her community and has been involved on a leadership level for many different organizations. She is the Past Chairman of the St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital Board and was part of the original founding Board that steered the opening of the hospital in 2013. She co-chaired the successful 2023 Heart & Soul Gala at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Lake Oconee which raised over $450,000 for the local hospital. In 2010, she and her husband co-founded the Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival to benefit local education, which has evolved into a three-day destination event at The Ritz-Carlton. An advocate for the arts, Riezl is a Board Director for the Oconee Performing Arts Society (OPAS). She was the President of the Lake Country Board of Realtors® in 2016. The Atlantan magazine awarded her "Expert in Second and Vacation Homes" for 2020 and 2021. She was recognized as a "2021 Top Luxury Real Estate Industry Leader" and was also nominated as "Best Bilingual" and "Best Community Impact" in Georgia.
Riezl holds a Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration and joined the Hyatt Hotels as a Corporate Management Trainee. She worked for the company for seven years in Operations Management and Hospitality Sales in Houston and Atlanta. She served as a Board Director for Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest meeting and event industry association, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Breakout, Georgia MPI's monthly publication that is distributed to thousands of members.
As the Director of Athens (Ga.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, Riezl developed strategic plans to attract conventions to the city. In 2000, she obtained her real estate license and worked for Reynolds Lake Oconee Properties where she was a top producer for 20 years. 
Riezl is a public speaker and has spoken at several national real estate conferences and webinars. She was an invited speaker at a National Empowerment Conference in Las Vegas in 2022 where she spoke about “Successful Entrepreneurship in America.” She was also featured in a 2022 episode of Fox Business Network’s prime-time real estate show Mansion Global. 
She and her husband have been married for 26 years and have two children, Stuart, who is a junior at Yale University, and Remi, who attends Interlochen Performing Arts Academy.

Community Footprints

  • Co-Founder, LEAD Lake Oconee
  • Board Member, Oconee Performing Arts Society.
  • Board Member, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board.
  • Past Chairman, St. Mary Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Board, 2017-2019.
  • Past President, Lake Country Board of REALTORS®, 2016.
  • Co-Founder, Lake Oconee Food and Wine Festival.
  • Three-Year Chair, Heart and Soul Gala Benefit, Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee.
  • Co-Chair, Heart and Soul Benefit Gala, 2022

Work With Riezl

A consistent top producer in the Lake Oconee area, Riezl has been recognized with numerous awards for her business accomplishments and community involvement. Contact Riezl today if you are thinking of selling or buying, or both.

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