Buying a recreational property? Read this before you dive in

People jumping in lake at recreational property

Enjoying access to a recreational property is quite possibly the ultimate Canadian dream. According to a recent survey conducted by Leger on behalf of RE/MAX, one-quarter of Canadians would consider purchasing a cottage or cabin in the future. If you’re among them, you’ve got some work to do before you can play.

As is the case with all real estate, a great recreational property starts with location. More than two-thirds of Canadians who currently own a cottage, or are considering buying one, are willing to travel up to two hours to get there. A shorter commute leaves more time for R&R, but particularly for those living in major urban centres, proximity to home comes at a price. Those willing to drive a little further for their piece of paradise could well find it at a lower cost. (FACT: 28 per cent of those who own a cottage or plan to buy one are willing to travel three hours or more!)

Recreational property stats

Location has some inherent associations, such as property type. Depending on where you live and how far you’re willing to travel, your recreational property might be lake-front, ocean-side, river-facing, forest, farm, mountain, or perhaps it’s a second home in another city. Canada’s diverse landscape offers a wide variety of cottages, camps, cabins, chalets and even condo-style getaways to choose from, so consider how you spend your “down time” and factor that into your purchasing decision.

Recreational property stats

With the “where” and “why” questions answered, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of your decision – the “what” of your recreational property purchase. As mentioned, your location will largely define the type of property available to you, but there are some other important details to consider:

  • Do you want a year-round recreational property, or a seasonal/summer home?
  • Will you be hosting extended family, friends or renters?
  • Do you want Internet connectivity, or are you going offline?
  • Do you seek seclusion, or wish to be part of a community?
  • Do you require electrical and indoor plumbing, or are you “roughing it”?
  • Do you need a boat house and dock?

 

Now, let’s look at the “how” of your recreational property purchase. How will you own the property? Are you entering into joint ownership with someone? And how will you pay for it? Depending on the type of property, yours may or may not qualify for a conventional mortgage. Working with a reputable Realtor, financial advisor/lender and lawyer will help answer all of these important “how” questions.

With price and maintenance costs identified by survey respondents as among the top three considerations of recreational property buyers, give careful thought to budget. Aside from the price of the property itself, also consider:

  • Insurance
  • Property tax
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Commuting costs
  • Use and entertainment

 

There’s a lot to think when buying a recreational property, but doing your homework now will mean a sound purchase – and some well-deserved play time – later.