Q: Can you offer me any advice, ideas, tips, or suggestions with regards to acquiring riverfront property in the North Georgia mountains for someone on a fixed/limited income?

I would like to purchase roughly a 3 to 5 acre lot that borders either the Etowah or Chestatee River somewhere/somewhat near the northern Georgia 400 corridor in the Lumpkin Co. (Dahlonega), GA area.

I aspire to build a brick, ranch style home potentially suited for use for the elderly or disabled. Most of the lots I’ve scouted in this area are advertised at roughly $30,000 an acre and up. I had envisioned spending more along the lines of $8,000 to $10,000 an acre at the most.

What do you suggest I do? Thanks in advance.

A: I think that property values in the North Georgia mountains, not to mention the mountain areas of south North Carolina and northern South Carolina, have skyrocketed in recent years.

While you might envision a water-front property of 3 to 5 acres, the prices you’ve quoted to me seem to be 5 to 7 years old. Everything I’ve read seems to point to a much higher per-acre price point in these resort areas. But that doesn’t mean a great deal isn’t out there waiting for you.

To find out what really exists, and at what price point, I’d hire a great local agent who specializes in rural properties to help you find what you’re looking for. You need to work with someone who works these areas on a daily basis and may know of a larger property that will be broken up, or someone who is looking to get out quickly.

But you may also have to resign yourself to the possibility that the price-per-acre you want to pay doesn’t exist. If so, consider buying a 1 or 2-acre property at $30,000 per acre instead of a 5-acre property for $10,000 per acre.

Although I wish I had a better answer for you, rural waterfront property is all the rage and you are at the mercy of the local market.

Jan. 9, 2006.