Many people dream of buying waterfront homes. There's just something special about sitting in your yard and watching the waves roll in and out. However, buying such a property does come with a few more risks and challenges than buying your average home. Here are a few ways to make sure your waterfront home purchase is a great success — not something you regret down the road.

1. Have the waterfront inspected.

When you have the home inspected prior to purchase, make sure you hire a company that has specific experience dealing with waterfront properties. Then, make sure they spend plenty of time looking at the bulkhead, which is the barrier between the water and the land. The bulkhead needs to be in good condition to prevent the land from eroding out from underneath you. If the bulkhead has suffered damage, you may end up spending thousands to have it and the land repaired in a few years.

2. Make sure the exterior materials are appropriate for the waterfront.

When a home is built on the water, the builders should use strong materials that are built to withstand the moisture and wind. For example, the home should have wind-resistant shingles or metal roofing, vinyl (not wood) siding, and storm windows. If the previous owner did some DIY work and tried to save a few dollars by choosing cheaper materials, they might not hold up. Your building inspector can take a look at the exterior materials and tell you whether or not you should expect problems.

3. Assess the cost of flood insurance.

On the waterfront, you're obviously at an increased risk for flooding. Most homeowners insurance policies do not include flood coverage, so you'll need to buy it separately. Call a a few insurance companies to see what the cost will be before you buy a home so that you know just how much you can afford in terms of a mortgage, taxes, etc.

4. Talk to the neighbors.

It's important to talk to the neighbors before buying any home, but especially when you buy a waterfront home. You want to ask them specifically about challenges that come up on the water. Does the seaweed bloom and cause odors every spring? Are there problems with tourists wandering into people's yards? You won't necessarily change your mind about a home based on some of these issues, but you will at least know exactly what to expect.