Cottage country prices will continue upward in 2022, agency predicts

Pandemic-driven thinking, with remote work opportunities growing in traditionally office-based industries, continues to feed demand for cottages or primary homes near waterfronts.

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City slickers looking to dip their toes in the water of cottage country real estate could be missing the boat, if they believe one agency’s forecast for 2022.

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Royal LePage predicts single-family home prices in Canada’s recreational regions will increase by 13 per cent in 2022, with demand for properties outpacing the number put up for sale.

The price hike wouldn’t be as steep as it was in 2021 — the agency said properties increased in value 26.6 per cent compared to 2020 — but clearly people are still hungry for real estate in cottage country.

Pauline Aunger, a veteran Royal LePage agent in the Rideau Lakes area south of Ottawa, says it’s around this time of year when people call to ask about cottage properties.

Pandemic-driven thinking, with remote work opportunities growing in traditionally office-based industries, continues to feed demand for cottages or primary homes near waterfronts.

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“People still want the getaway, but they look at it as using it year-round so that they can work from their waterfront property,” Aunger said Saturday.

“As long as you have good wi-fi, you can work anywhere.”

They’re also looking ahead to retirement, when waterfront properties could become their primary homes, Aunger said.

Rideau Lakes is popular for Ottawa residents because of its proximity, but they’re getting competition from beyond eastern Ontario. Aunger is seeing more Toronto-area residents search for more affordable waterfront properties and they’re looking at Rideau Lakes.

According to Royal LePage’s analysis, prices for single-family recreational properties in Rideau Lakes increased by 25.6 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020, with an average price of $609,000. Waterfront properties in the area went for $614,000 on average in 2021, an increase of 17 per cent from 2020.

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While the pandemic has pushed buyers into the recreational real estate market, it has also convinced waterfront property owners to keep the land rather than selling it and using the money for travelling, Aunger said.

As a result, fewer properties are hitting the market, driving up demand and resale prices.

However, the lure of sunsets on pristine lakes and swimming off backyard docks could wash out the serious questions prospective cottage-country landowners need to consider before shelling out cash for a waterfront property.

“It’s about doing some homework,” Aunger said.

What are the conditions of the roads in the off-season, and who owns the roads?

What is the water source for the property? Will a heated water line be required for any winter use?

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Does the garbage get picked up, or will you have to take it to a dump? How far away is the dump?

On top of that, prospective buyers should check how many bars show up on their cellphones at the property.

And don’t forget to ask about wi-fi.

“It is important to have a realtor who understands waterfront,” Aunger said.

Aunger says it appears the prices for recreational properties near lakes will continue to increase because the supply is extremely constrained.

“You’re building a new subdivision outside of Ottawa every day. God only made so many lakes, and we’re not creating new lakes,” Aunger said.

“What we have is what we have.”

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