The Ultimate Guide to Waterfront Homes in North Carolina

Photos of watefront properties in North Carolina

The Ultimate Guide to Waterfront Homes in North Carolina

Waterfront homes in North Carolina are beautiful and serene and offer all sorts of water-based activities for every outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re looking for fishing, swimming, boating, hiking or surfing, North Carolina waterfronts provide something for everyone. If you’re new to North Carolina or thinking about moving and investing in a North Carolina waterfront property, you’re sure to find plenty of waterfront homes for sale in North Carolina.  

To help you get started finding the waterfront home of your dreams, your friends at EZ Home Search have put together this ultimate guide to waterfront homes in North Carolina. 

Things to Consider When Buying a Waterfront Home in North Carolina

Deciding you want a waterfront home is an easy choice to settle on. But, you’ll want to make a few additional considerations when buying a waterfront home in North Carolina. Before we dig into the different types of waterfront homes for sale, let’s take a quick look at some extra things to consider. 

Types of Waterfront Home Construction 

You’ll want to look at the different options you have for waterfront construction in North Carolina. Some of the different types of waterfront homes for sale in North Carolina include: 

  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-family homes
  • Condominiums

From there, you’ll also want to consider the types of building materials you’re looking for in a waterfront home. Some of the most durable materials for waterfront construction are: 

  • Tile
  • Concrete
  • Brick and Composites
  • Metal

For many waterfront homes, you’ll find a combination of these materials used around different areas. Using one material over another is usually dictated by things such as climate, location and proximity to the water. Coastal waterfront homes are threatened by storms such as hurricanes and tropical winds, whereas mountain riverfront homes will experience snow and winter weather.    


Another important consideration when looking at waterfront homes in North Carolina is whether or not it has a dock built. Docks are the lifeblood of waterfront living and you’ll need to know the condition of the dock or if one still needs to be built. If the home you’re looking at doesn’t already have a dock built, then you’ll need more information about dock permits and dock construction in the town, county or municipality where the home is located. 


Bulkheads are essentially retaining walls for waterfront homes. Bulkheads separate the waterfront from your property and help prevent issues associated with erosion, flooding and drainage. Bulkheads can be made of the following materials: 

  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Metal
  • Concrete 

If the property you’re looking into doesn’t already have a bulkhead installed, you’ll want to inquire about this with your realtor. Docks, bulkheads and drainage are all aspects of buying a waterfront home in North Carolina that you’ll need to consider. 

Regions of North Carolina 

The Carolinas offer some of the best waterfront living in the entire country. There are three distinct regions of North Carolina where you’ll find waterfront homes for sale: 

  • The Mountains or Western North Carolina (WNC)
  • The Piedmont or Central North Carolina
  • The Coast also called Eastern North Carolina 

When you mention waterfront property in North Carolina, everyone’s mind automatically goes to the Outer Banks and the coastal regions of the state. Of course, you’ll find beautiful waterfront living along the coast of North Carolina. But, you’ll find majestic waterfront living across every region of the state and North Carolina has plenty to offer in the way of waterfront homes for sale.   

Types of Waterfronts in North Carolina

North Carolina is filled with gorgeous waterfronts of all types. But, the main types of waterfront homes you’ll find include: 

  • Lakefront 
  • Riverfront  
  • Oceanfront 

Of course, there are variations of each of these types of waterfronts. For example, creeks and streams could be called riverfront living while large ponds and reservoirs can be considered lakefront living. It all depends on what you’re looking for in a North Carolina waterfront home and your own personal preferences. 

If you’re looking for a certain waterfront lifestyle such as surfing or wind sailing, then you might not have as much flexibility as someone searching for a basic fishing or swimming spot. 

The good news is that there are currently more than 7,000 waterfront homes for sale in North Carolina

Lakefront Homes In North Carolina

Of the thousands of available waterfront homes in the state, many of the listings are for lake homes or lakefront homes in North Carolina. North Carolina is one of the top destinations for lakefront living in the entire southeast and offers quality, affordable lakefront homes across the entire state.   

North Carolina Lakes to Buy Lake Homes and Lakefront Property

North Carolina is home to more than 50 lakes with many of these offering amazing lakefront homes and quality waterfront lifestyles. Some of the most popular lakes to buy lakes homes or lakefront properties in North Carolina are: 

  • Lake Norman
  • Lake Tillery
  • Jordan Lake
  • Lake James
  • Fontana Lake
  • Lake Wylie
  • Badin Lake
  • Lake Toxaway
  • Lake Lure

These lakes are scattered around the state of North Carolina. With each offering its own unique style of lakefront living and quality of life, you can’t really go wrong buying a house, lot or other property on any of these North Carolina lakes. But, if you’re looking for a lake home in North Carolina, there are certain areas of the state that offer more waterfront options than others. 

Best Places To Find Lakefront Homes for Sale in North Carolina

As we discussed, there are over 50 lakes spread across the great state of North Carolina. Although not all of these lakes offer lake homes or lakefront options, the regions of North Carolina all contain several lakes with property and homes available. 

Lake Norman

Located in the Piedmont region of the state and just a short drive north of Charlotte, Lake Norman is the largest manmade lake in North Carolina. Construction on Lake Norman was completed in 1964 and receives water flowing from the Catawba River. 

Since then, Lake Norman is known for offering a diverse wildlife population, making it a top choice for fishing and bird-watching enthusiasts alike. That’s not all Lake Norman has to offer, though, and it’s beloved by those who enjoy activities such as boating, jet skiing and swimming. In fact, Lake Norman boasts two yacht and boating clubs that make excellent places to store your boat for easy access to a day on the water.  

Currently, there are 183 homes for sale on or near Lake Norman in North Carolina. You can find lots for as little as $20K and homes for as much as $1.4M either on or around Lake Norman in North Carolina.   

Lake James

One of the largest and most popular lakes in WNC, Lake James is located in Nebo, North Carolina. If you’re looking for a laid-back mountain lake lifestyle, then Lake James is an excellent choice for buying a home. It’s a short drive to Asheville, NC, which is a popular tourist city located in the heart of the WNC mountains. 

Although Lake James is located in a fairly remote area, the short drive to Asheville makes it possible to run a business or pursue your career while still enjoying the relaxed lifestyle Lake James and Nebo, NC offers residents. Lake James features fishing, boating and jet skiing plus you can even camp along its shores. The range of activities available at Lake James isn’t limited by any ordinances, making it a top mountain lake destination. 

Currently, there are 79 waterfront and lakefront homes for sale in Nebo, NC. You can find an assortment of property types available around Lake James. From lots as low as $30K to waterfront homes costing as much as $1.2M and higher, Lake James has plenty of available homes, lots and property for sale.   

Jordan Lake

One of the hidden gems of the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina is Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake is actually the second biggest market for lake homes in North Carolina. Jordan Lake is a great spot to enjoy your favorite water-based activities including boating, fishing, jet skiing and swimming. Also known as B. Everett Jordan Lake, the lake offers over 175 miles of shoreline and features a number of waterfront and surrounding homes for sale at any given time. 

Currently, there are 99 waterfront homes for sale on Lake Jordan with an average list price of $676K. Jordan Lake has plenty of homes and lots for sale but it’s one of the pricier North Carolina lakes to live on. The convenience of Raleigh-Durham and the proximity to the airport all contribute to the high costs of living on Jordan Lake. 

Riverfront Homes in North Carolina

North Carolina hosts several rivers, creeks, streams and other tributaries that make for the perfect waterfront home sites. There are 17 river basins in North Carolina, which makes finding the right riverfront for your home simple in the state of North Carolina.    

Popular North Carolina Rivers for Riverfront Homes

With 17 river basins across the state, there are hundreds of different rivers, streams and creeks that offer riverfront living in North Carolina. But, we’ll spare you the breakdown of each one and just go over some of the most popular rivers and riverfronts to buy a home in North Carolina such as:  

  • Neuse River
  • Cape Fear River
  • Catawba River
  • Tar River
  • Pamlico River
  • Haw River
  • Waccamaw River
  • French Broad River
  • New River 

Best Places To Find Riverfront Homes for Sale in North Carolina

As we’ve discussed, North Carolina, similar to South Carolina, is divided into three distinct regions – WNC, the Piedmont and the coast. In North Carolina, each region is filled with plenty of options for riverfront homes and property. There are hundreds upon hundreds of riverside and creekside homes available across the state, so we’re breaking down your riverfront options by region.  

Riverfront Homes in WNC 

Plenty of rivers in the mountains of Western North Carolina offer quality, luxurious riverfront living. This is easily the part of the state with the most options for riverfront and creekside living as many of the mountain rivers and streams flow to or from larger bodies of water. One of the best parts of any waterfront home in WNC has to be the accompanying mountain views and scenery. Not only can you find plenty of riverfront homes for sale in Western North Carolina, but you’ll likely have a gorgeous mountain view to go with it.    

The mountains of Western North Carolina are home to some of the most popular rivers in the state. WNC rivers include the French Broad River, Catawba River and Pigeon River. All of these offer quality riverfront housing options with a mountain lifestyle to go along with it. 

Riverfront Homes in Piedmont/Central North Carolina

Although there aren’t as many riverfront options in the Piedmont region of North Carolina as there is in the mountains of WNC, you’ll still find plenty of riverfront and waterfront homes for sale in this part of the state. The Piedmont features three of North Carolina’s 17 river basins – the Yadkin, the Roanoake and the Cape Fear. Some of the best rivers and creeks for riverfront homes in the central or Piedmont region of North Carolina are located around these three river basins. 

One of the most popular rivers in the Piedmont region is the Haw River. The Haw River flows down through the central part of the state and eventually flows into the Cape Fear River. Another centralized river is the Neuse River. The Neuse River runs through the Durham area and eventually flows to the Pamlico Sound located along the coast.  

Riverfront Homes in the Coastal Region of North Carolina 

The coast of North Carolina isn’t just for oceanfront homes or beach houses and there are plenty of riverfront homes available along the coastal areas of the state. Wilmington, New Bern and Southport, for example, are all gorgeous coastal river towns that offer both high-end beach homes and riverfront homes for sale.   

The Cape Fear River runs through Wilmington and Southport while the Neuse River runs through New Bern, North Carolina. Although Wilmington and Southport are best known for their beautiful beaches and stunning coastlines, these cities are rich with Cape Fear riverfront homes for sale

Other coastal rivers include the Pamlico River and the Newport River. Although these are not as long as some of the other rivers mentioned in this guide, each offers convenient riverfront living on the coast of North Carolina. The Pamlico River runs through the towns of Washington, Tarboro and Greenville, North Carolina. Likewise, the Newport River flows through the coastal towns of Beaufort and Morehead City, North Carolina. 

Oceanfront Homes in North Carolina

North Carolina offers some of the most amazing oceanfront and beach communities in the entire southeast. With a diverse coastal region and plenty of waterfront property available, oceanfront homes in North Carolina are plentiful. Although North Carolina beaches are not as well known as South Carolina’s beaches, they offer some of the best oceanfront living in this part of the country.  

Best Places to Find Oceanfront Homes for Sale in North Carolina

You’ll clearly only find oceanfront homes in North Carolina along the coast. But, the coast of North Carolina is comprised essentially of two different areas – the outer banks and southeastern North Carolina. 

Oceanfront homes in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is well known for its majestic shorelines and gorgeous beaches. But, there is a range of towns and cities that comprise the outer banks and each offers its own unique style of oceanfront living. Towns and cities that make up the Outer Banks include: 

  • Kill Devil Hills
  • Nags Head
  • Buxton 
  • Southern Shores

The Outer Banks offers more of a remote oceanfront living experience as there is no major interstate leading to this part of North Carolina. In fact, the towns that comprise the Outer Banks are only accessible by bridge or ferry, adding to the allure and intrigue behind this part of the state. Other towns and cities close to the Outer Banks include Elizabeth City and Morehead City. 

The Outer Banks is known for its lighthouses that guide incoming ships by warning them of the rough ocean terrain and rocky ocean waters. Lighthouses lend the Outer Banks their historic charm but also serve a real purpose for the ships in that part of the ocean. From there, the Outer Banks is an excellent spot for fishing, boating and enjoying the natural wonders of the North Carolina coastal landscape.  

The Outer Banks towns of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina feature plenty of beautiful homes for sale. There are currently 80 oceanfront homes for sale with a median listing price of $819K. In Kill Devil Hills, there are currently 226 homes for sale ranging from $25K to $6.3M. As you can see, the Outer Banks can be pricey for oceanfront and beachfront homes.  

Oceanfront homes in Southeastern North Carolina 

If you travel south from the Outer Banks, you’ll find yourself along the southeastern North Carolina coast. The southeast North Carolina coast is home to Wilmington, North Carolina, which sits just to the north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The areas around southeast North Carolina for beach houses and oceanfront homes for sale include: 

  • Wrightsville Beach
  • Ocean Isle Beach
  • Oak Island

Let’s take a closer look at each of these southeast North Carolina beach towns and their oceanfront home options. 

Wrightsville Beach Oceanfront Homes

Located just a few miles from downtown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is a top tourist destination and an optimal location for oceanfront property in the area. Wrightsville Beach is a town that’s essentially owned by its residents, so your investment in a home here goes a bit further than in other locations along the North Carolina coast. 

Wrightsville Beach features plenty of activities to enjoy. If you decide to buy a home in Wrightsville Beach, you’ll enjoy a plethora of shopping, dining, fishing, swimming and an all-around laid-back beach lifestyle. With the University of North Carolina Wilmington just a couple of miles up the road, Wrightsville Beach stays pretty active throughout the year. You can enjoy surfing, boating and wind sailing at Wrightsville Beach pretty much all year long. 

Currently, there are 51 homes for sale in the town of Wrightsville Beach with many of those either sitting directly on the ocean or just one street off. Home prices on Wrightsville Beach currently range from $128K to $13.9M with a median listing price of $1.6M.    

Ocean Isle Beach Oceanfront Homes

Ocean Isle Beach is another true gem for oceanfront homes in North Carolina. Ocean Isle is situated between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington near the coastal town of Southport in Brunswick County, North Carolina. Although Ocean Isle Beach is located in North Carolina, the town is part of the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area and was incorporated in 1959. With small-town charm, Ocean Isle Beach is only a short drive to either Wilmington or Myrtle Beach. Enjoy an easy-going beach lifestyle, surfing, wakeboarding and more at Ocean Isle Beach.  

Currently, there are 24 homes for sale in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. The median listing price is $879K with homes available as low as $125K and as high as $2.4M and up.  

Oak Island Oceanfront Homes

Close to Ocean Isle but separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal waterway is Oak Island, North Carolina. Oak Island is a stunningly beautiful beach town that offers high-end luxurious oceanfront homes for sale. The town of Oak Island is approximately 20 square miles and offers 10 gorgeous miles of natural North Carolina coastline and oceanfront living. 

Oak Island gets its name from the ample number of live, gnarled oak trees that fill the town. These oaks are majestic and lend a true southern coastal charm to the town of Oak Island. Years of whipping sea breezes and exposure to the salt in the air has transformed the island town into a picturesque coastal town popular amongst tourists and vacationers. 

Currently, there are more than 40 homes and condos for sale in Oak Island, North Carolina. The median listing price is around $700K and homes are available for as low as $250K and as high as $2.2M and up. 

Summary of Waterfront Homes in North Carolina

If your dream is to own a waterfront home or beach house, then North Carolina is definitely the right place for you. North and South Carolina waterfront homes offer some of the best quality of living in the entire southeast. From riverfronts to lake homes and oceanfront condos or beach houses, North Carolina offers something for everyone looking to enjoy southern life on the water. 

The mountains, Piedmont and the coasts of North Carolina are all filled with potential options for luxurious, peaceful and equitable waterfront homes and property. Now all you need to do is contact a real estate professional with experience in waterfront properties and who understands what to look for in potential waterfront homes in North Carolina. 

Contact EZ Home Search for Help Finding The Perfect Waterfront Property in North Carolina

With so many options for waterfront homes in North Carolina, finding the perfect home to meet your needs and enjoy the southern waterfront lifestyle can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Contact our EZ Home Search North Carolina realtors today and discover everything North Carolina waterfronts have to offer. 

Not ready to jump into finding a real estate agent for your waterfront home search in North Carolina? Check out our North Carolina home listings and feel free to browse our North Carolina blog for more information on areas, attractions and must-see sites throughout the state.  

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