Houseboat communities dot the Manhasset Bay Marina and the Toms Point Marina in Port Washington, offering residents a way of life on the water. Uri Barkai, a real estate associate broker at Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc., has brokered many of the houseboat sales in Port over the past decade.
“I’ve been in real estate since 1995. I got this niche of selling houseboats quite a few years ago, when somebody wanted to see a houseboat and they had no clue what it was,” said Barkai. “So [the] owner of houseboats and [the] owner of marinas… were passing my name and that’s the way I sold over 20 houseboats.”
Most houseboats sell for between $80,000 and $180,000. However, Barkai has seen houseboats range in price from as low as $20,000 to just under $300,000 — his most recent and expensive sale.
Due to the close proximity of the slips — designated docking spaces for boats — at marinas, houseboat owners and residents often become friendly.
“They [houseboat owners] help each other, they party with each other. It’s a nice community,” said Barkai. “They love to be there, play music and watch movies.”
Barkai’s clients include those from all walks of life.
“I [have] sold to… actors in Hollywood, lawyers, working people, electricians — a mixed community that all love to be on the waterfront,” said Barkai.
The residents live in their houseboats all year round, especially at the Manhasset Bay Marina. The Marina is located in an inlet between Port Washington and Great Neck, which provides protection from direct storms and poor weather.
On the real estate side, houseboats range in size and style. However, the sale price is determined by how much investment is required for renovations, similar to a traditional house.
“You have to upkeep the houseboats, you’re on the waterfront, you have to use special paint and so on. Make sure the boat is tied up,” said Barkai.
In addition, the closing process is relatively easy, only requiring a bill of sale — a document that transfers ownership from one party to another. A bill of sale is also used for motorcycle and car sales.
“When you buy a house, you need an attorney and so on, here you don’t need an attorney,” said Barkai. “But when you get a bill of sale basically the closing can take a couple of minutes. The buyer will bring a bank check and they get the bill of sale, they shake hands and that’s it.”
Furthermore, houseboat owners pay a monthly slip fee, which ensures the boat’s place at the dock and is determined by the marina. Although the fee differs from one marina to another, most cost around $1,000 per month. Water is included, but electricity and propane are out-of-pocket costs. Parking access is also determined by the marina. There are also no property taxes associated with houseboat ownership.
“When you rent an apartment, you don’t pay property taxes. You pay the rent plus utility and the same thing here,” said Barkai. “You pay the slip fees kind of [as] rent to the marina and you pay the utilities. There’s no property taxes because you don’t have a property in a sense.”
In New York, unlike along the West Coast and in Europe, houseboats do not have engines and cannot be moved on their own.
“Right around here, this area, there’s no way to travel with a houseboat, so the houseboat is staying [in] the marina all the time,” said Barkai. “If you buy a houseboat and want to move to a different location, different marina or different state, [the houseboat] has to be towed by another boat… sometimes a little speedboat and sometimes even a jetski.”
Barkai enjoys this lane of real estate, especially as houseboats rise in popularity.
“It’s nice to know… another way in real estate that most people don’t know. [I’ve] met a lot of nice people,” said Barkai. “Currently, I have no more listings and tons of buyers, so I’m looking for houseboats. I’m sure we’ll get some in the future.”
For more information about houseboat sales and/or traditional real estate, Uri Barkai can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 516-652-2658.