Considering buying a waterfront home in Lake Oswego? Here’s what you need to know

As the weather warms up, interest in waterfront homes in Lake Oswego heats up too. And as someone who not only sells waterfront homes but lives in one too, I get it. The lifestyle that waterfront living offers is one-of-a-kind and delivers memories that will last a lifetime.

But all those benefits do come with a price, and it’s not just the list price attached to a home for sale. Here’s what else you need to know.

There are 693 properties that border Oswego Lake and its canals. These properties are referred to as “shareholder” properties and are charged annual assessments to maintain and improve the value and quality of Oswego Lake under the stewardship of the Lake Oswego Corporation. In addition, homeowners are issued one share of voting stock for each 10 feet or major fraction of 10 feet of lake frontage property.

These assessment rates are based on two things: the number of linear feet of lake frontage owned by each shareholder and a flat fee of equal amount for each shareholder. These fees go towards managing water quality, providing safety patrols, removing silt from the lakebed, maintaining the dams and other infrastructure and purchasing and maintaining equipment for the operation of the lake. One powerboat and any number of non-power watercraft licenses are included with a paid assessment.  Additional powerboats carry a fee of $250 for 9.9 hp or less, $500 for 10 hp or more. 

This year an increase of 3.5% was approved by the Board to help offset rising costs due to inflation in addition to a special assessment of $600 a year for the next two years to cover ongoing legal expenses over public lake access from city parks abutting Lakewood Bay. (Read the full story here).

In addition, there is a $7,500 transfer fee due from a new waterfront home buyer that must be paid at the time of closing of a transaction.

One of the things those assessment rates go towards is drawing down the lake every few years to allow for infrastructure projects and dredging. The next drawdown is scheduled for October of this year during which the city is planning to replace the sewer trunk in Blue Heron Bay (south of the bridge). This is also a time for shareholders to conduct any construction projects they have planned along their waterfronts.

As I’ve mentioned before in previous blogs, you don’t need to own a waterfront home to enjoy Oswego Lake.

First off, all Lake Oswego residents have access to the Lake Oswego Swim Park at 250 Ridgeway Road which is open from July 1 through August 31 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. complete with certified lifeguards, diving platforms, inner tubes, lounge chairs, picnic tables and water toys. Residents within the old Lake Oswego School District boundary have access to the Lake Grove Swim Park at 3800 Lakeview Blvd. and open from June 17 through August 27 from noon to 8:00 p.m. daily and also has certified lifeguards as well as a snack shack, picnic tables, swim lessons and recreational equipment for rent like basketballs, cornhole set and ping pong paddles and balls.

Over 3,000 homes in Lake Oswego have special deeded lake access privileges through 20 easements located around the lake. Which particular easement a homeowner has access to is determined largely by location and which easements their property has deeded rights to. Some homes might be deeded rights to more than one easement. Each easement is governed by its own individual set of by-laws and run by its own volunteer board of directors and facilities and rate structures vary. You can find a complete list here. In addition to the easement fees, the Lake Corporation has assessed a one-time fee of $100 in 2023 for easement members to fund the legal fees mentioned above.

Please feel free to reach out to me at 503.939.9801 or email me at if you have any questions about buying a home in Lake Oswego, fees associated with living here and/or the status of the lake access litigation. At this point phase two of the trial is expected to proceed regarding the reasonableness of city ordinances that prohibit public access to the lake from city-owned properties such as Millennium Plaza Park.

About lovelakeoswego

I feel pretty lucky—I live where I work and I love where I live. As a Realtor in Lake Oswego, I get to share that enthusiasm with clients every day. Through this blog, with the help of my freelance writer wife, Genita, I’d like to share that enthusiasm with you. The quality of life you’ll find in Lake Oswego belies its size—there is so much to experience here from a fireworks show over the lake on the 4th of July to the Festival of the Arts--one of the premier arts events in the region. So please check in each week for another reason why I love Lake Oswego and who knows—maybe you’ll fall in love too! If you’re interested in experiencing Lake Oswego personally, please feel free to contact me either on my cell at (503) 939-9801, via email at or check my website by clicking the link in the "Contact me" section in the right-hand column. I would love to show you around.
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