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Get Ready to Make a Splash! Realtor.com Reveals the Top 10 Affordable Lake Towns of 2019

July 31 2019

As temperatures continue to rise, realtor.comⓇ offers a glimpse into hot deals for lake town real estate across the United States

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 30, 2019 -- As the summer heat shows no signs of relenting, realtor.com®, the Home of Home Search℠, today released its list of the 10 most affordable lake towns, which offer waterfront properties under $450,000. Unlike owning a vacation home on the ocean, lake homes can be more accessible – not just in price, but also for those who don't live near the coasts.

"Lake towns often offer people an affordable destination with water sports, amenities, natural beauty and an array of often top-quality dining options," said Clare Trapasso, senior news editor, realtor.com®. "Some of these lake towns also double as ski resorts in the winter. Those who enjoy cold-weather sports, in addition to summer activities may in fact, be getting a home they can enjoy throughout the year."

The most affordable town on the list is Jamestown, N.Y., with a median list price of just $59,000, but if you desire a two-bedroom home with a private shoreline that can raise the price significantly. Sandpoint, Idaho, is the most expensive of the affordable lake towns, with a median list price of $429,000 and a variety of lakefront houses that can cost well over $1 million. While the cost of homes in these affordable lake towns can vary, some of the common themes shared by the majority on the list are attractions that provide year-round entertainment and an abundance of single-family homes available for purchase.

From East Coast to West Coast - and everywhere in between - the following towns are the best places to score an affordable lake house, in rank order:

1. Branson, Mo. Median Listing Price: $205,900

Near two of Missouri's most popular lakes, Branson is a Midwestern vacation destination filled with music venues, amusement parks, nightlife, and other attractions for locals and visitors to enjoy. For those seeking a prime spot for watersports and boating, Table Rock Lake is surrounded by a variety of single-family homes, which often range from $350,000 to over $650,000. Lake Taneycomo comes in at a top pick for trout fishers and those seeking a quieter destination where buyers can find one-bedroom condos for approximately $120,000.

2. East Stroudsburg, Pa. Median List Price: $187,000

A popular destination for people looking to escape city living, East Stroudsburg is a vacation spot within the Poconos, known for its lakes, ski resorts, historic towns and water parks. While most properties in the area have a low price tag, prime lakefront homes can range from $900,000 to $1.4 million. Lake Naomi and Timber Trails are also great nearby options that have smaller single-family homes that start around $120,000.

3. Port Clinton, Ohio Median List Price: $259,900

Port Clinton is a charming small town on the western edge of Lake Erie with plenty of low-priced condos, and single-family homes that typically start around $300,000. In addition to the many beaches, islands and quiet bays of Port Clinton, the town has a plethora of entertainment, including an African Safari Wildlife Park, The Watering Hole Safari and Waterpark, unique antique stores, and waterfront restaurants.

4. Jamestown, N.Y. Median List Price: $59,900

Jamestown sits at the tip of Chautauqua Lake and is known for its exceptionally affordable real estate, and of course, its lakes. However, Jamestown has also made a name for itself as a top-notch comedy destination. As the hometown of comedian Lucille Ball, Jamestown hosts the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, which has featured Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Jay Leno, among others. Those looking to stay year-round will be able to land a bargain as the area is filled with older single-family homes listed at great prices.

5. Alexandria, Minn. Median List Price: $288,900

Alexandria is located in Douglas County, where there are about 300 lakes and certainly no shortage of lakefront homes. Waterfront properties are predominantly single-family homes that start at just over $100,000. However, there are also a variety of larger houses, with more acreage, and higher price tags available.

6. Clearlake, Calif. Median List Price: $219,900

The popular Northern California vacation town, Clearlake, was hit hard by the previous foreclosure crisis and recent wildfires. However, the town is making a comeback and there are even plans to reopen the renowned Konocti Harbor Resort. Rumored to be the oldest lake in North America, the fresh water of Clear Lake is still a major draw, especially with real estate prices that are just a fraction of those in nearby cities like Napa and San Francisco.

7. Spirit Lake, Iowa Median List Price: $315,000

With waterfront attractions, including an amusement park, and deep clear water that is perfect for boating, Spirit Lake and Okoboji are two of Northern Iowa's more lively and desirable lake towns. West Okoboji Lake is filled with waterfront, multi-million-dollar homes and grand estates, while East Okoboji and Spirit Lake house more affordable condos and single-family homes with shared lake access.

8. Mountain Home, Ark. Median List Price: $174,900

For those seeking a tranquil, peaceful abode by the lake, head to Mountain Home. Unlike many of the other lake towns on this list, Mountain Home doesn't have a lot of entertainment. Instead, the main attraction to this peaceful place is Lake Norfolk, a 22,000-acre manmade lake that has nearly two dozen parks and 550 miles of shoreline. In this slower paced town, you can find a two-bedroom home overlooking the lake or river for about $200,000 or a larger waterfront house which can range from $300,000 up to $2 million.

9. Baraboo, Wis. Median List Price: $189,900

Baraboo is home to the world-renowned Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which started in 1888 and shut down in 2017. The town is also known for its outdoor adventures and attractions, such as rock climbing, the International Crane Foundation, Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River. The lake and river are lined with single-family homes that range from $200,000 for a modest two-bedroom cottage up to $3.6 million for a grand estate on the water.

10. Sandpoint, Idaho Median List Price: $429,000

While Sandpoint is the most expensive town on the list, this small community in Idaho is surrounded by a lake and mountains that provide year round attractions for visitors and residents. Fishing, boating, wine tasting, and The Festival at Sandpoint are some of the main summer activities, while skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort is popular during the winter. Prime lakefront homes in the area typically go for over $1 million, while houses on the river can be found for less than half of the price.

To put together the list, realtor.com® looked at real estate listings that mentioned things such as "lake view" and "lake house" in more than 900 U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas. Each location had to have at least 50 listings over a 12-month period ending May 31, 2019 and couldn't have more than 150,000 households. To ensure these were true vacation spots, the percentage of vacation homes and the percentage of dining, drinking and outdoor activity establishments were also measured. Finally, to measure affordability, realtor.com® ensured that none of the towns in this ranking had median prices of more than $450,000.

For more information about these towns, please click here.

About realtor.com®

Realtor.com®, The Home of Home Search℠, offers the most MLS-listed for-sale listings among national real estate portals, and access to information, tools and professional expertise that help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. Through its Opcity platform, realtor.com® uses data science and machine learning to connect consumers with a real estate professional based on their specific buying and selling needs. Realtor.com® pioneered the world of digital real estate 20 years ago, and today is a trusted resource for home buyers, sellers and dreamers by making all things home simple, efficient and enjoyable. Realtor.com® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. under a perpetual license from the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information, visit realtor.com®.