Dock On The Water

How Riparian Rights Create High Waterfront Property Prices in Virginia

July 9, 2019 | Quick Takes

The Virginia Supreme Court in 2012 wrote that the “riparian nature” of waterfront property “is often a substantial, if not the greatest, element of its value.” But precisely how much extra do people pay to live on the water? A 2018 study using data for residential properties in California shows that buyers pay about an extra 45% for oceanfront property, with lake and riverfront properties commanding a premium of about 25%. A 2013 study using housing market sales data collected in Bellingham, Washington found that a view of the water commanded a premium between $30k to $102k. These out-of-state scientific studies reinforce the judgment reached by the Virginia Supreme Court in 2012. With 3,285 square miles of water, and 10,577 miles of shoreline, Virginia would be an excellent candidate for the types of studies performed in some of the other coastal states.

About The Author

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Jim uses waterfront (riparian) property rights law, maritime & admiralty law, and environmental law to protect Virginians who live, work and play on the water. Contact Jim at (757) 502-7326 or