A floating home is a single-family home built on a platform that is moored, anchored, or otherwise secured on the water. Floating homes must be located in legally-established floating home moorages and have direct connections to sewer and water utilities.
Floating homes are built on several different types of flotation devices. Flotation devices are usually concrete barges, logs, foam, or foam-filled steel. In Seattle, while more modern homes can sometimes include underwater basements, older homes can possess log floats that are almost a hundred years old!
Floating homes typically range in size from small 600 square feet studios to over 2,000 square feet 3 bedroom residences. Parking is usually found in nearby garages or parking lots.
Co-op: a company owns the land and dock, you the buyer get a share in the company and the exclusive use of your slip.
Condominium: you own your slip and have a common interest in the land the dock.
Taxes & Mortgages
Floating homes are sold like any other house with traditional loans, closing costs, and taxes.
Different taxes and processes are required for houseboats. Houseboats also have a sales tax due at the point of sale and in the city of Seattle, there’s only one lender who handles houseboat loans.
To purchase a floating home, lenders require at least a 20% down payment.
Floating homes are not real estate. They are considered real property and therefore do not qualify for special loan programs, low down payment programs, or most advertised loan programs. In Seattle, there are only three lenders that lend for floating homes – Pacific Crest Bank, Sound Community Bank and Banner Bank.
Loans available are 15-, 20-, and 30-year fixed-rate.
As with any home purchase, an inspection is generally recommended with an expert checking the home from top to bottom. On a houseboat or floating home purchase, a home inspection also involves hiring a diver to inspect the hull of a houseboat or the floats beneath a floating home.
Floating homes must meet standard building codes; houseboats have a little more freedom with unusual staircases or door and window sizing.