Strike While the Iron's Hot and the Weather is Cool -- What's Going in the Muskoka Real Estate Market

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Muskoka recreational market still active and affordable. "Buyers can own a slice of that classic Muskoka landscape for less than $500K, and an hour closer to Toronto than the big three," says Christine Tonus, sales representative with Royal Lepage, Four Seasons

The recreational property market has been active in the early part of 2010 with sales up 9% despite the fact the listings have remained flat.

The fall spurs people into both the selling and buying mode. Buyers vow that come spring they will finally be in a place of their own and not have another laboured summer of viewing cottage after cottage. They see it as a time to commit and take the leap with visions of relaxing summers swinging in hammocks by the lake.

Typically a fine-tuning of which area they see themselves settling into precedes this. Much of the 2009 economic uncertainty that the looming HST and effects of the damaged US mortgage fiasco have had on our psyche, have now subsided and buyers confidence has been slowly returning. Sixty-one percent (61%) of potential buyers said that the expectation that interest rates will rise this year does not affect their decision to purchase a recreational property.

Sellers, on the other hand are motivated by a myriad of personal reasons. In addition cottage usage in the winter presents certain challenges, as many cottages are not fully "winterized." Sellers also re-asses their usage and consider placing their property on the market now at the close of the summer season, rather than paying another year of taxes on a property that perhaps got little use.

Advice to buyers: do your homework and enlist the professional services of a REALTOR. Start with a wish list and prioritize must haves. Waterfront can vary greatly from property to property. While boaters may want a classic Muskoka granite face with deep water - families may want gentle sloping waterfront access with safer play & swim areas for little ones. And then there are the island retreats, where privacy is almost assured. Determine whether you, as a buyer are motivated by the search for the Canadian Dream and looking for a "right now" playground or purchasing a vision for what retirement may look like.

Advice to sellers: detach from the emotion and look at if the cottage lifestyle really suites your needs now. Sellers usually have fond memories of what was, memories they can take with them and carry in their hearts. Memories are not located in a structure. Life changes and so do the demands on our pocket books. Once the decision is made to divest of a cottage property it's time for the the age old question, "what is my property worth?" There is only one honest answer - what a willing, qualified buyer is will to pay. Listing prices on Gloucester Pool stats show that properties on average sold for $61,359 less than asking which represents 8.9% drop from the asking prices after 147 days on market on average. So, owning a piece of sunshine on Gloucester will average $624,999. Which disburses the conception that our area only has million dollar price tags.

Six Mile Lake, asking vs selling prices from January 2009 to September 2010: on average cottages sold 7.6% less than asking with an average market time of 136 days. Consider in these stats that after Christmas the market quiets. Average asking - $515,653 and average sale price of $476,662. That means buyers can own a piece of Muskoka for under 500K. Imagine that!

Christine Tonus, Sales Representative
Royal LePage, Four Seasons Real Estate Centre
Provides stats for the Cottage Market

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Christine Tonus, sales representative
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