Floating Property INFO

As specialists in all types of water properties, we can help you with floating homes, and houseboats in addition to waterfront property anywhere in the Puget Sound area. Purchasing a floating property can be quite different than purchasing a land-based residential property. We can help you through this process.

  • Purchase Price Range: The price of a decent-quality houseboat can vary significantly based on quality, location, size, and amenities. Prices might range from $100,000 to over $4 million. Comparatively, houseboats can be less expensive per square foot than traditional houses in popular areas, but this depends greatly on the local real estate market and the specifics of the moorage location.
  • Financing Options: Specialized financing for houseboats is less common than for traditional homes. Currently, one Seattle Bank (Sound Community Bank) offers houseboat loans, but they might come with higher interest rates and different terms due to the perceived higher risk and locations.
  • Associated Costs: Besides the purchase price, costs include moorage fees, utilities, maintenance, insurance, and personal property taxes. Moorage fees vary widely but can be several hundred to a few thousand dollars monthly. Utility costs can be less than traditional homes, depending on the efficiency of the houseboat’s systems. Blackwater (sewer) is pumped by a service on the lake.
  • Insurance: Houseboat insurance can be more complex and more expensive than standard homeowner’s insurance. It often includes aspects of both home insurance and marine insurance, covering potential water-related risks. The insurance service will require the entire Survey Inspection Report.
  • Personal Property Tax: The valuation for a Floating On Water Residence (FOWR) usually considers the houseboat’s market value, size, location, and age. Tax rates and assessment methods can vary by jurisdiction.
  • Location – Moorage: Owned moorage typically offers more stability and control but can be expensive upfront. Owned moorage and long-term leased slips are rare in Seattle with only a few locations. Rental moorage offers flexibility and offers the majority of locations, with variability in costs. Restrictions and requirements vary by marina and locality.
  • Maintenance: Common issues include hull maintenance, water ingress, and system repairs (electrical, plumbing, etc.). Maintenance costs depend on the boat’s age, size, hull (flotation) types, and condition but can range from a few thousand to several thousand dollars.
  • Hull Type (Flotation): Common types include aluminium, steel, concrete, and wood with fiberglass overlay. The styles are typically pontoons, monohulls, and barge-style. Barge-style hulls provide a large stable base and are preferred.
  • Inspection Process/Costs: Regular inspections are recommended and how often will depend on the hull type, age, and condition. Specialized marine surveyors conduct these inspections, focusing on the hull’s integrity, systems, and overall condition.
  • Lifestyle: Benefits include scenic views, a close-knit community, and a unique living experience. Challenges can involve space limitations, motion sickness for some, and the need for due diligence with maintenance.
  • Minimalist Approach: Efficient storage solutions, multifunctional furniture, and decluttering are common strategies. Maximizing vertical space and using built-in furniture are also popular. Consider a storage unit to manage additional storage needs for seasonal items.
  • Community: Houseboat communities often exhibit a strong sense of camaraderie and shared experience. They may organize communal events, but this varies by location.
  • My Experience with Houseboats vs. Traditional Homes: My venture into houseboats stemmed from living on the lake aboard a dual stern paddlewheel houseboat for many years, a fascination with alternative living spaces, and a desire to cater to a niche market. While the fundamental principles of real estate apply to both, houseboats require a unique understanding of maritime and housing laws, maintenance needs, and lifestyle adjustments.

Whether looking for real property, a floating home, or a houseboat I have the expertise you need to find the perfect home.


TIP (CAM)-229 (Client Assistance Memo) describes the requirements for Floating Homes, FOWR’s (Floating On-Water Residences, also known as Houseboats). Please refer to this document if you are considering buying or selling one of these properties.

TIP 229A Seattle Shoreline Permitting Requirements for Floating On-Water Residences (FOWR) and Barges.

TIP 250 Best Management Practices in Seattle’s Shoreline District

Seattle Code Questions and requirements for floating properties.

Rental rules for floating properties:

Short-term rentals are NOT allowed in:


If you move your FOWR (Floating On-Water Residence) to a different slip or new location you must notify DCI by completing a form provided by DCI. More info here-

  • Notify your lender of your change of location
  • Notify your insurance provider of your change of location
  • If Coast Guard Registered, the notification may also be required

Considering buying or selling a floating property? Email [email protected]. Linda M  Bagley has lived on the lake aboard a FOWR for nearly 15 years and is the specialist on the lake.