In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, summer fun means water. Is this the year to take the plunge and buy a lake home? And how do you find the right one?

To start your search, check out, which lists nearly all lake properties for sale in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as vacation rentals and resorts.

Right now, buyers outnumber sellers for moderately priced properties within a three-hour radius of the Twin Cities.

“The hot ticket is the $250,000 to $400,000 year-round home on a swimmable lake,” says Bill Hansen, owner of Bill Hansen Realty in Longville, Minn.

Some buyers still want the rustic seasonal “cabin,” but most don’t — unless they’re planning to knock it down and build a better one.

A more affordable alternative to the stand-alone lake home is buying property at a resort, many of which are going condo, says Dave Gooden, co-founder of Lakeplace Realty, which operates (A unit with shared beach costs about $100,000 to $150,000.)

Here’s a to-do list before you begin your hunt in earnest:

Prioritize: Three things determine value — the lake, the lot and the structures, says Hansen. Decide which is most important to you, then find the lake that best fits what you want to do, whether that’s boating, fishing or quiet relaxation.

Work with a specialist: You may have a great relationship with a Twin Cities agent, but the lakeshore market is a different beast, requiring an agent who can advise you on septic systems, wells, setbacks and DNR issues. Lakeshore specialists also may know of pocket listings not on the multiple listing service.

Secure financing: Meet with a lender, determine what you can afford and get preapproved before you fall in love with a property. In a tight market with multiple offers, a prepared buyer puts a seller at ease, says Lakeplace Realty co-founder Cameron Henkel.

Don’t overbuy: Have some money left over, so you can buy a boat or whatever will create the lake experience of your dreams, says Hansen. “You’re doing this to have fun, not to go to the top of your price range and feel uncomfortable.”