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Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada (2022)

2022-05-11T10:47:07-04:00May 11th, 2022|
  • Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada Indicate Recreational Markets a Magnet of Affordability and Lifestyle to Both Leisure and Permanent Homeowners and Seekers

RE/MAX Canada anticipates average residential prices in recreational markets to rise up to 20 per cent for the remainder of 2022

  • 39 per cent of Canadians living in recreational markets are drawn to their affordability, while lifestyle is also a key factor, such as access to water (37 per cent), access to outdoor recreation (33 per cent), and low-density neighbourhoods (31 per cent).
  • 75 per cent of Canadians living in recreational markets are happy with their quality of life.
  • Growing interest and activity in recreational markets is a concern for current residents, with 54 per cent of those living in recreational markets worried that a rapidly rising population will impact their community’s charm and liveability, and 41 per cent showing concern about future affordability.

Toronto, ON and Kelowna, BC, May 11, 2022 – Interest in Canada’s recreational property markets has continued to grow since the start of the pandemic, drawing homebuyers with their relative affordability and attractive lifestyle, but leaving many current residents concerned that a rising population could negatively impact their community’s charm and liveability (54 per cent) and affordability (41 per cent). This is according to new data from RE/MAX analyzing cabin and cottage trends across Canada. As a result of heightened interest and activity in recreational markets, coupled with a housing supply shortage, RE/MAX Canada brokers and agents anticipate average residential prices to rise up to 20 per cent for the remainder of 2022.

“The level of activity we are seeing in recreational markets across the country is a direct reflection of the stability and quality of life that these regions provide,” says Christopher Alexander, President, RE/MAX Canada. “Throughout the pandemic, we saw a shift in consumer behaviour, where in many cases liveability and affordability trumped all other factors. Yet, many recreational properties, whether as a primary or secondary residence, afford buyers the best of both worlds, compelling Canadians to settle in these areas for the long term. This is putting upward pressure on these markets.”

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada: Sales & Prices

Cabin And Cottage Trends Across Canada 2022

Download this data table

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX Canada, 75 per cent of Canadians living in recreational markets are happy with their quality of life. Sales activity in these regions has been driven in large part by young couples and families, retirees, out-of-town buyers and investment buyers, according to a supplemental survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents, who said waterfront properties with open space living and large acreage are in greatest demand.

“Historically, recreational properties are held within and passed down through families, which has been a strong contributor to low inventory in those markets,” says Elton Ash, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Canada. “With the prospect of declining affordability for many homebuyers across the country, more and more Canadians are choosing to live in recreational areas because of the relative affordability they offer. In many cases, this has resulted in heightened demand for homes in regions that were already experiencing low supply, and could soon be facing more acute challenges of a growing population.”

Among the impacts are rising residential prices. In fact, the majority (76 per cent) of RE/MAX Canada brokers and agents are anticipating residential price growth up to 20 per cent through the remainder of 2022. Markets such as Kenora/Lake-Of-The-Woods and Greater Sudbury/Manitoulin Island experienced exponential year-over-year price appreciation of 339.72 per cent and 116.73 per cent, respectively. Local RE/MAX brokers report that prices in these areas will likely remain accessible for many looking to enter the housing market, especially out-of-area buyers coming from larger and more expensive cities across Canada.

Despite Canadians returning to in-person work, the trend of inter-provincial migration into recreational markets as a primary place of residence is likely to continue for the remainder of 2022, with liveability and affordability propelling the movement, according to RE/MAX brokers and agents. While many current residents are expected to remain in the area – signalling added pressure on inventory in recreational markets – the Leger survey reveals that 24 per cent of Canadians who live in a large urban city would like to purchase a recreational property within the next two years. Meanwhile, many of those living in a recreational market have no plans to relocate to a bigger city (population size under 100,000, 43 per cent); or to a large urban city (population over 100,000, 50 per cent).

Regional Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada

RE/MAX Canada brokers and agents were asked to provide an analysis of their local market activity for the first quarter of 2022, as well as an outlook for the remainder of the year.

Atlantic Canada Recreational Market Trends

RE/MAX Canada surveyed brokers in Truro, NS, Sydney, NS, Charlottetown, PEI, Summerside, PEI, St. John’s, NL, Moncton, NB and Halifax, NS, and found that all but one market are sitting in seller’s territory. Only Sydney, NS is a buyer’s market. This trend can be attributed to the supply-demand imbalance that brokers expect to continue through the remainder of 2022. Average recreational property price increases are expected in Truro (+20 per cent); Charlottetown (+12 per cent); Summerside (+ 5.5 per cent); St. John’s (+10 per cent); Moncton (+15 per cent); and Halifax (+19 per cent).

Out-of-province buyers are settling into the area for the long-term and are leading market activity in Atlantic Canada among other stakeholders, with waterfront properties being most sought after by consumers. Between January and March of 2022, year-over-year average residential sale prices have increased by 46 per cent in Truro; 22 per cent in Sydney; 18 per cent in Charlottetown; 20 per cent in Summerside; 38 per cent in Moncton; 26 per cent and in Halifax. The only region that experienced a decrease in year-over-year average residential price was St. John’s, which declined by approximately seven per cent. RE/MAX brokers and agents in Atlantic Canada anticipate their recreational markets to continue to be sought after by out-of-province buyers and in some cases new immigrants, as governments encourage local migration to the area.

Ontario Recreational Market Trends

Ontario’s recreational communities are no exception to the seller’s market conditions that are prevalent nationwide, with all regions reporting low inventory and high demand. According to RE/MAX brokers and agents, residential sale prices in recreational markets are expected to grow by 10 per cent in Windsor-Essex; five per cent in Kenora and Lake-Of-The-Woods; five per cent in Greater Sudbury and Manitoulin Island; nine per cent in Southern Georgian Bay; 18 per cent in Muskoka; eight per cent Rideau Lakes. Meanwhile, Orillia is expected to cool slightly, with a 10-per-cent decline anticipated through the end of 2022, compared to the 34.5-per-cent price growth experienced in the first quarter of the year.

Ontario recreational market activity is being driven by a range of buyer types, including out-of-province buyers, singles, millennials, retirees, families and young couples, as well as investors, showing particular interest in waterfront properties. Recreational markets have also been a hot spot for investors, with brokers in Windsor-Essex, Peterborough & Kawartha Lakes, Southern Georgian Bay and Orillia reporting them as primary players in their regions. Despite accelerated buying activity in the wake of the pandemic – particularly by Southern Ontarians – some markets such as Kenora/Lake-Of-The-Woods are expected to regain balance in the remainder of 2022, as Canadians return to the office and activity wanes in some markets.

Western CanadaRecreational Market Trends

Western Canada’s recreational markets are all skewed toward sellers, including British Columbia’s Tofino, Ucluelet, Whistler and Penticton/South Okanagan regions, as well as Canmore, AB. Demand in these areas has continued to thrive, with recreational properties for sale in Whistler and Canmore receiving multiple offers in a trend that has been exacerbated by dismal inventory. Although many pandemic-related restrictions have lifted, RE/MAX brokers in these regions anticipate continued interest from Canadians as shifting attitudes and high gas prices are prompting many to vacation closer to home. Average sale prices are estimated to increase by five per cent in Tofino, Ucluelet, Penticton/South Okanagan and Canmore in the remainder of 2022.

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About RE/MAX Canada’s Cabin And Cottage Trends Report

RE/MAX’s report on cabin and cottage trends across Canada includes data and insights supplied by RE/MAX brokerages. RE/MAX brokers and agents were surveyed on market activity and local developments based on local board data and market activity in 2021 and 2022. *Small markets were defined as those having the highest population growth rates in 2021, according to Statistics Canada, and population under 440,000, with a secondary criterion in order to ensure a good sample of national markets of those with a population of 100,000 or less. **Recreational markets were defined as an area with properties most used for leisure (i.e., a community with recreational amenities like a lake/river/skiing etc.). 

About Leger

Leger is the largest Canadian-owned full-service market research firm. An online survey of 1,525 Canadians was completed between March 25-27 using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90 per cent. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About the RE/MAX Network

As one of the leading global real estate franchisors, RE/MAX, LLC is a subsidiary of RE/MAX Holdings (NYSE: RMAX) with more than 140,000 agents in almost 9,000 offices with a presence in more than 110 countries and territories. RE/MAX Canada refers to RE/MAX of Western Canada (1998), LLC and RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada, Inc., and RE/MAX Promotions, Inc., each of which are affiliates of RE/MAX, LLC. Nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX, as measured by residential transaction sides. RE/MAX was founded in 1973 by Dave and Gail Liniger, with an innovative, entrepreneurial culture affording its agents and franchisees the flexibility to operate their businesses with great independence. RE/MAX agents have lived, worked and served in their local communities for decades, raising millions of dollars every year for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® and other charities. To learn more about RE/MAX, to search home listings or find an agent in your community, please visit remax.ca. For the latest news from RE/MAX Canada, please visit blog.remax.ca.

Forward-looking statements

This report includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbour” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “believe,” “intend,” “expect,” “estimate,” “plan,” “outlook,” “project,” and other similar words and expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements include statements regarding housing market conditions and the Company’s results of operations, performance and growth. Forward-looking statements should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time those statements are made and/or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include (1) the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted the Company and continues to pose significant and widespread risks to the Company’s business, the Company’s ability to successfully close the anticipated reacquisition and to integrate the reacquired regions into its business, (3) changes in the real estate market or interest rates and availability of financing, (4) changes in business and economic activity in general, (5) the Company’s ability to attract and retain quality franchisees, (6) the Company’s franchisees’ ability to recruit and retain real estate agents and mortgage loan originators, (7) changes in laws and regulations, (8) the Company’s ability to enhance, market, and protect the RE/MAX and Motto Mortgage brands, (9) the Company’s ability to implement its technology initiatives, and (10) fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, and those risks and uncertainties described in the sections entitled “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in the most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and similar disclosures in subsequent periodic and current reports filed with the SEC, which are available on the investor relations page of the Company’s website at www.remax.com and on the SEC website at www.sec.gov. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. Except as required by law, the Company does not intend, and undertakes no duty, to update this information to reflect future events or circumstances.

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Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada (2021)

Canadians opt for more affordability and new lifestyle, flocking to recreational property market; 57 per cent of markets offer properties below $500K, according to RE/MAX brokers and agents

  • Average sale price anticipated to rise up to 30% in some recreational property markets, according to RE/MAX brokers and agents.
  • 44 per cent of recreational property buyers are budgeting $200,000-$500,000 in the next 12 months.
  • 57 per cent of Canadian recreational markets include at least one property type within the $200K-$500K price range.

Kelowna, BC and Toronto, ON, May 18, 2021 – The red-hot demand seen in Canada’s urban centres has migrated into recreational markets, as interest and activity in suburban and rural properties continues to grow. Despite rising demand, 57 per cent of Canadian recreational markets still have at least one property type with an average price below $500,000, according to the 2021 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report. Furthermore, 57 per cent of RE/MAX brokers and agents in recreational markets anticipate single-digit price growth over the remainder of 2021.

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX, more than half of those who plan to purchase a recreational property in the next year (59 per cent) are first-time recreational property buyers. Twenty-one per cent of Canadians are looking to recreational markets after being priced out of an urban centre. Low borrowing rates are working in their favour, with 22 per cent saying the lower rates have increased their ability to buy.

The survey also found that 11 per cent of Canadians were searching for a recreational property prior to the start of the pandemic and are still searching, and 15 per cent of Canadians who were not searching for a recreational property prior to the pandemic are now looking.

Shifting home-buying trends, as prompted by the pandemic, are exacerbating inventory challenges in a majority of recreational markets across Canada. The growing demand in these regions is also putting upward pressure on prices which is impacting affordability in many recreational markets, which RE/MAX brokers anticipate will be a long-term trend. Tofino, Ucluelet and Niagara regions, to name but a few, are experiencing low inventory levels, bidding wars and sky-high prices.

“There’s intense competition among buyers in Canada’s recreational property markets and inventory is stretched thin,” says Christopher Alexander, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “But Canadians recognize that recreational properties remain an affordable option in such a turbulent market. There are still many recreational markets across Canada that are deemed affordable, despite the growing demand and rising prices.”

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada: Affordability Outlook

According to RE/MAX brokers and agents, sellers’ market-like conditions are anticipated to persist for the remainder of the year in 97 per cent of regions examined in the report. These conditions are typically accompanied by rising prices, which has been a trend in 2020 that is expected to continue through 2021. RE/MAX brokers report that 57 per cent of Canada’s recreational markets include at least one property type priced in the $200,000 – <$500,000 range. This is down from 87 per cent in 2019.

The most affordable recreational regions for waterfront properties across Canada include Thunder Bay ($425,805), Charlottetown ($334,447) and the Interlake Region of Manitoba ($363,833), while Okanagan ($2,430,434), Barrie-Innisfil ($1,841,217) and Niagara region ($1,546,561) are the most expensive recreational property markets for waterfront properties.

Ontario-Atlantic Canada (Average price)

Western Canada (Average price)

Regional Market Highlights

Western Canada

A majority of Western Canada’s recreational markets are sellers’ markets, including Whistler, Shuswap, Canmore, Tofino, Ucluelet, Central Okanagan and Interlake Region of Manitoba. Most regions are seeing multiple offer scenarios, driving prices up for most property types. Out-of-province buyers – typically from Ontario – are looking to Canmore in pursuit of recreation and achieve greater work-life balance. With work-from-home conditions, demand has spiked and prices of non-waterfront properties in Canmore have increased by 26 per cent since 2019. Out-of-province buyers from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island are eyeing Tofino and Ucluelet, as well as out-of-country buyers from California. Both are looking to the region for the desire to relocate from urban centres and for a secondary residence.

With low inventory in Manitoba’s Interlake Region, prices of waterfront properties have increased by 43 per cent since 2019. Most activity is driven by buyers from within the province, typically families, millennial couples or investors looking for an affordable option outside of urban centres. With most buyers working from home in the region, good Wi-Fi access has become a top priority.

Ontario

All of Ontario’s recreational markets are sellers’ markets, with low inventory and high demand. These regions include Bancroft, Barrie-Innisfil, Haliburton, Kenora, Muskoka, Niagara region, Parry Sound, Peterborough and The Kawarthas, Prince Edward County, Sudbury and Thunder Bay to name a few.

Young families, many from the GTA and Hamilton, are now looking to Muskoka after feeling priced out of urban centres. This is impacting supply and affordability in the region, with average sale price of waterfront properties in Muskoka anticipated to increase by 20 per cent this year. Prince Edward County is seeing an uptick in buyers with work-from-home allowances, as well as retirees, who are considered to be driving the most market activity in the region.

In Niagara region, the average sale price of waterfront properties reached $1,546,561 in the first four months of 2021, a 77-per-cent increase from an average sale price of $875,036 in 2019. Strong price growth since 2019 was also evident in Niagara’s water-access properties, which increased 160 per cent, from $506,700 in 2019 to $1,317,500 in 2021. Continued price growth for these property types is anticipated through the remainder of the year, by nine per cent and eight per cent, respectively. Families looking for a secondary residence are the key drivers of market activity in the region. Strong interest from this cohort is anticipated to continue, with Niagara’s close proximity to Crystal Beach, Port Colborne, Niagara Falls and Grimsby.

Atlantic Canada

In Atlantic Canada, recreational property markets are experiencing similar conditions as local residential markets and other recreational markets nation-wide, with low inventory and high demand putting upward pressure on prices.

Charlottetown is a sellers’ market, with sales being driven by out-of-province buyers. A local RE/MAX broker reports that the region has become more attractive thanks to the province’s positioning as one of the safer communities in Canada, based on the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. This has put pressure on the region’s inventory, which was already struggling to meet demand. In 2021, recreational property prices in Charlottetown are anticipated to increase by five per cent for waterfront properties and seven per cent for non-waterfront properties.

The Halifax region is also experiencing sellers’ market conditions, with low inventory and high demand. Market activity is being driven by out-of-province buyers, with increased interest resulting from the pandemic and strict lockdown measures in other parts of Canada, along with increased flexibility to work remotely. The average sale price of waterfront properties in Halifax is $698,104, a 53-per-cent increase from 2019 ($456,515). In 2021, the average sale price of waterfront properties is projected to increase by seven per cent.

New Brunswick is also experiencing sellers’ market condition. For example, recreational property sales in St. Andrews are being driven by out-of-province buyers, thanks to the region’s lower average sale price compared to large urban centres. Low inventory is putting an upward pressure on waterfront properties, average sale price saw an increase of 132 per cent since 2019, rising from $320,000 to $741,650. The average sale price of waterfront properties is anticipated to increase by five per cent over the remainder of the year.

“In today’s real estate landscape, with increased demand and ongoing supply issues putting pressure on prices and sparking bidding wars, industry professionalism is of utmost importance,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Recreational markets across Canada are feeling the pressure, and without a solution to address supply issues, we are running out of affordable options for Canadians.”

Unsurprisingly, affordability remains the top buying criteria for 41 per cent of Canadians who are in the market for a recreational property, followed by proximity to water or waterfront, amenities and good Wi-Fi. With demand for recreational properties anticipated to remain strong for the remainder of the year, lifestyle factors typically found in city homes, such as restaurants, Internet connection and office space are expected to remain a priority among buyers.

About the 2021 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report

The 2021 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report includes data and insights from RE/MAX brokerages. RE/MAX brokers and agents are surveyed on market activity and local developments. Average sale price prediction range is reflective of all property types in a region and varies depending on the region. Regional summaries with additional broker insights can be found at RE/MAX.ca.

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada (2019)

Millennials’ Interest in Recreational Property Higher Than Ever

The RE/MAX 2019 Recreational Property Trends survey conducted by Leger finds that the majority of Millennials (56 per cent) are in the market to purchase a recreational property. This is up 14 per cent from last year, when just 42 per cent of Millennials were considering buying a recreational property. In 2018, 91 per cent of recreational markets surveyed reported that Baby Boomers accounted for the majority of activity. While Boomers continue to be a driving force in 2019, the increase in buying intentions in the 18-34 age group alludes to the start of a new trend in recreational buyer demographics, and what this new wave of buyers will be looking to purchase.

“We are finally witnessing the beginnings of a long-anticipated generational shift of buying power from Baby Boomers to Millennials,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “With the high cost of urban living taking many young homebuyers out of those markets, more Millennials are contemplating recreational properties as a viable option for home ownership.”

Price remains the top consideration for recreational property buyers, with 61 per cent of survey respondents naming affordability as the most important factor. However, liveability also plays a crucial role in the selection process.

“This new buyer demographic comes with a different lifestyle and property criteria than those of their Boomer counterparts,” Alexander adds. “Factors like Internet connectivity, recreational activities and proximity to towns with urban conveniences are becoming a more important selling feature.”

The RE/MAX survey reveals that 64 per cent of Canadians enjoy recreational properties as places where they can relax and spend time with friends and family, while 58 per cent perceive them as getaway homes. Forty-three per cent say that they can partake in activities that they normally wouldn’t be able to at their permanent residence, such as hiking and fishing. Millennials rank higher (50 per cent) than Boomers (38 per cent) in the use of recreational properties as places to participate in activities that can’t be done at their principal residence, such as hiking and fishing.

“Owning a recreational property is all about liveability – those crucial criteria, such as the great outdoors, access to water, mountains and community that improve our overall quality of life,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “It’s not surprising to see more Millennials pushing into the recreational property markets. Recreational living is very much aligned with this generation’s quest for work-life balance and is representative of a growing trend of Millennials choosing to make recreational properties their primary residence.”

When it comes to the actual property, the survey also found that other than affordable purchase price, Canadians who own or would consider owning a recreational property named reasonable maintenance costs (46 per cent), waterfront access (45 per cent), and proximity to town (44 per cent) as the most important factors when purchasing.

These findings differ regionally, with more Atlantic Canadians (39 per cent) looking for seclusion compared to residents in western provinces (28 per cent) or Ontario (26 per cent). Ontarians, on the other hand, are more likely to look into the property’s proximity to town and the accessibility of nearby medical facilities.

Additionally, the findings revealed that more than half of Canadians (54 per cent) travel (or would like to travel) to their recreational property in about two hours or less, while nearly a quarter (22 per cent) travel (or would travel) three or more hours.

“With recreational properties more in reach today compared to the past, travelling to your cottage or cabin and back is often accompanied by the Friday and Sunday ‘rush,’ meaning increased traffic and longer travel times,” says Ash. “Therefore, it’s reasonable for buyers to take shorter travel times into consideration when choosing a recreational property to buy.”

“Knowing what Canadians are looking for in a recreational property is crucial for sellers,” adds Alexander. “By the same token, it’s also important to understand today’s buyers and their needs; and highlight those vital liveability factors that are most likely to appeal to them.”

More Cabin And Cottage Trends Across Canada

  1. 40 per cent of Canadians are in the market for a recreational property, 56 per cent of millennials are in the market for a recreational property
  2. Canadians cite the following reasons to own or want to own a recreational property:
    • It is where I can go and relax and spend time with friends and family = 64 per cent
    • It is a getaway home = 58 per cent
    • I can do activities I can’t do at my permanent residence (hiking, fishing, etc.) = 43 per cent
    • It is an investment property = 30 per cent
    • It is a retirement home = 20 per cent
    • Other = 2 per cent
  3. 30 per cent of Canadians who say they use or would use a recreational property as an investment opportunity, Millennials rank the highest at 33 per cent, compared to Boomers at 28 per cent.
  4. More than half (54 per cent) of Canadians who own or are considering owning a recreation property are willing to travel up to two hours, 24 per cent saying they would travel two hours. Slightly less (22 per cent) are willing to travel three or more hours.
  5. Canadians identify the following features as important when considering their current recreational property or a future purchase of a recreational property:
    • Affordable purchase price = 61 per cent
    • Reasonable maintenance costs = 46 per cent
    • Waterfront access = 45 per cent
    • Proximity to town = 44 per cent
    • Reasonable distance from primary residence = 35 per cent
    • Relative seclusion = 28 per cent
    • Land access = 24 per cent
    • Proximity to sports/recreation = 24 per cent
    • Nearby neighbouring properties = 12 per cent
    • Island property = 7 per cent
    • Other = 1 per cent
    • None, don’t mind which features my recreational property has = 7 per cent
    • Don’t know/prefer not to answer = 7 per cent

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada (2018)

As Canada’s residential market recovers, recreational property experiences a surge

Canada’s increasingly aging population has retirees driving and inflating the recreational market in popular leisure locations

  • Recreational properties are experiencing a surge in pricing with 78 per cent of regions surveyed showing growth
  • A RE/MAX survey showed that retirees drive demand for recreational properties in 91 per cent of regions examined
  • An older Canadian population with more purchasing power is driving prices up

A recent survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents found that recreational properties are experiencing a surge in pricing, with 78 per cent of regions surveyed showing a higher median price in 2018 compared to 2017. A RE/MAX survey conducted in the spring showed that 91 per cent of popular Canadian recreational markets are being driven by retirees, and with seniors outnumbering children in Canada for the first time as reported last year, retirees as a population are also driving up prices.

Compared to 2018, the median price of recreational properties, including waterfront, non-waterfront, water access and ski-in properties, has increased by 13 per cent across Canada. Median price information was calculated for the periods of July 2016 to June 2017, and July 2017 to June 2018.

“Compared to 2017, when only 55 per cent of regions surveyed had retirees driving the market, this year’s 91 per cent are having a much bigger impact,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. “Combined with the fact that Canada’s senior population is the largest it has ever been, and many of these retirees are using recreational properties as retirement properties, pricing has increased across the majority of markets.”

Overall, British Columbia saw an increase of 19 per cent, with the median price in areas like Tofino increasing by as much as 112 per cent. Lack of inventory in the small region drove prices higher. Sun Peaks, one of Canada’s largest ski areas, saw an increase of 34 per cent, due to its available services and schooling attracting retirees as well as families.

The Prairies tell a different story however, with median price compared to 2017 decreasing by four per cent overall. For instance, median price for both non-waterfront and water-access properties in Turtle Lake, SK dropped by 16 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. The same is true for Qu’Appelle Valley, SK with the median price for non-waterfront properties dropping by as much as 25 per cent. Changes in mortgage rules and an economic slowdown are factors that contributed to the decrease. Sylvan Lake, AB showed no price change.

“The economic slowdown in the Prairies, combined with stricter mortgage qualifications, has affected demand in its recreational market,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “On the other hand, BC’s economy is the fastest growing in the country and its status as a destination market has contributed to the strong growth of its recreational market.”

Meanwhile, Ontario saw an overall price increase of 15 per cent, with the median price in areas like Haliburton’s waterfront properties increasing by as much as 98 per cent. The same rings true for its water access properties, with the median price increasing by 71 per cent. The median price of waterfront communities in the French River also showed strong growth of 36 per cent.

Atlantic Canada saw a very modest median price increase of 0.13 per cent. While areas like Shediac showed modest growth – three per cent for waterfront properties and five per cent for water access properties – Newfoundland’s East Coast saw a decline of as much as 18 per cent for waterfront properties. Part of this was due to unusually high-priced properties that sold in 2017.

“Atlantic Canada’s market is faced by slow economic growth, compared to Ontario,” says Alexander. “Those still recovering from the 2017 market downturn in places like Newfoundland and Labrador are delaying purchases of recreational properties at the moment.”

RE/MAX brokers foresee current trends continuing into 2019. In the next two to five years, brokers in BC speculate the market will see a shift from retirees to younger buyers driving demand for recreational properties, as the latter accumulate more purchasing power. However, in the prairies, the tighter mortgage qualifications and overall economic performance will make it more difficult for younger buyers to enter the market. In Ontario, brokers see both retirees and younger buyers driving demand in the next few years. Atlantic Canadian brokers are closely aligned with those in the Prairies who see retirees continuing to drive the market.

Key Findings from the 2018 RE/MAX Recreational Property Omnibus Survey

1. One-quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians would consider buying a recreational property in the future.

2. Canadians cite the following reasons to own or want to own a recreational property:

  • It is where I can go and relax and spend time with friends and family = 58 per cent
  • It is a getaway home = 46 per cent
  • I can do activities I can’t do at my permanent residence (hiking, fishing, etc.) = 41 per cent
  • It is an investment property = 33 per cent
  • It is a retirement home = 19 per cent
  • Other = 4 per cent

3. More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Canadians who own or are considering owning a recreation property are willing to travel up to two hours, with 31 per cent saying they would travel two hours. Slightly less (28 per cent) are willing to travel three or more hours.

4. Canadians identify the following features as important when considering their current recreational property or a future purchase of a recreational property:

  • Affordable purchase price = 64 per cent
  • Waterfront access = 55 per cent
  • Reasonable maintenance costs = 53 per cent
  • Proximity to town = 43 per cent
  • Reasonable distance from primary residence = 37 per cent
  • Relative seclusion = 33 per cent
  • Land access = 30 per cent
  • Proximity to sports/recreation = 25 per cent
  • Accessible medical facilities = 24 per cent
  • Nearby neighbouring properties = 15 per cent
  • Island property = 12 per cent
  • Other = 1 per cent
  • None, don’t mind which features my recreational property has = <1 per cent
  • Don’t know/prefer not to answer = 3 per cent

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada (2017)

As real estate prices remain high in Canada’s urban centres, young families are looking for unique ways to finance their dreams of recreational property ownership. In a recent survey conducted by Leger, more than a quarter (28 per cent) of Canadians with children under the age of 18 indicated they would consider selling their primary residence in the city in which they live in order to purchase a cottage, cabin or ski chalet. Other options that these potential buyers are willing to consider include fractional ownership in a shared property, purchasing a recreational property with a friend or family member, and renting out the recreational property they purchase on a vacation rental website such as AirBnB.

In a separate survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents, 73 per cent of regions indicated that young families with children were a key driver of demand in their market, including established recreational regions such as the Okanagan Valley in B.C., Canmore, AB, Collingwood, ON and the Laurentians in Quebec. Retirees were also a key driver of demand across Canada, with more than half (55 per cent) of regions surveyed reporting an increase in retiree buyers this year compared to last year.

Continued high real estate prices in regions like Toronto and Vancouver have led to large numbers of retirees and Baby Boomers nearing retirement to sell their homes and put the equity they received from the sale into the purchase of a recreational property. This has in turn resulted in the price appreciation that we’ve seen in popular recreational property markets such as Whistler in B.C. and Haliburton in Ontario.

The RE/MAX survey of brokers and agents found that 39 per cent of regions experienced an increase in demand from buyers leaving either the GTA or B.C.’s Lower Mainland compared to last year. More local markets such as Salt Spring Island, located a few hours away from Vancouver and the Kawarthas in Ontario, experienced significant increases in demand as a result of this trend. Regions as far away as Ottawa’s Rideau Lakes Region and P.E.I’s north and south shore also received a boost from buyers leaving the GTA who are looking for great value on properties further out from the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

In Leger’s survey of Canadians, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of millennials (18-34 years old) expressed interest in purchasing a cottage, cabin or ski chalet in the next 10 years. A quarter of respondents also indicated they would consider purchasing a recreational property as an investment vehicle to help finance retirement. At the same time however, many millennials feel that high real estate prices in the city in which they live will negatively impact their ability to buy a recreational property in addition to owning a primary residence.

To overcome this gap between demand and affordability, many Canadian millennials are willing to turn to unique financing methods to help purchase a recreational property. Nearly half (44 per cent) of millennials said they would purchase a property with a family member, while 39 per cent would purchase a property and rent it out using a vacation rental site such as AirBnB. Additionally, over a quarter of young Canadians (age 18-34) said they would consider selling the primary residence in which they live, while one in five millennials said they would consider both fractional ownership of a shared a property or buying with a friend.

Cabin and Cottage Trends Across Canada (2016)

Sustained Demand for Access to Recreational Properties Remains

As real estate prices rise, many Canadians are looking for alternative ways to finance their dreams of cottage or cabin ownership. In a recent survey of RE/MAX agents and brokers, more than half reported seeing an increase in buyers who planned to rent out their property full- or part-time. In a separate survey of Canadians, conducted by Leger, nearly 60 per cent agreed that due to the emergence of popular, user-driven vacation rental websites, it is easier for an owner to rent out an investment property today versus five years ago.

The Leger survey also found that millennials were most likely to have spent time at a cottage or cabin in the past year, demonstrating that young Canadians are sustaining demand for access to recreational properties. This provides an opportunity for buyers to finance their second homes, most notably in high demand areas such as Grand Bend, Ontario, Tofino, B.C., and Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

In most of the regions that reported an increase in buyers planning to rent out their properties, demand is driven primarily by families and retirees, rather than investors. Retirees were reported as being key drivers of demand in 83 per cent of regions surveyed, and 53 per cent of regions reported an increase in retiree buyers this year compared to last year.

As the large demographic of Baby Boomers retires, sellers who benefitted from significant price appreciation in cities like Vancouver and Toronto are putting that equity into recreational markets, which is causing prices to increase in those regions. Some buyers who may still be five or 10 years away from retirement are taking the opportunity to enter those markets now, renting out their property until they are ready to retire.

This effect has been especially pronounced in British Columbia, where significant price increases in the Lower Mainland are encouraging buyers to invest in regions such as the Okanagan and the Gulf Islands.

The low Canadian dollar is having a positive effect on Canada’s recreational property markets. Canadians, mainly Baby Boomers, who bought properties in the U.S. when U.S. real estate prices were comparably low are selling them at a profit and investing in Canadian recreational markets. The low dollar is also encouraging Canadians to vacation within the country rather than going abroad, putting their money into vacation rentals closer to home.

Some regions, particularly established recreational destinations with international reputations such as Whistler, the Muskokas and Mont Tremblant, are seeing foreign buyers, primarily from the U.S., return to those markets. Cape Breton Island, which recently made international news when a website “Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins” gained the attention of high-profile news media, has seen increased interest from prospective U.S. buyers this year due to the publicity boost, combined with favourable exchange rates.

Lydia McNutt

Senior Public Relations & Content Manager | RE/MAX Canada

Lydia McNutt is an award-winning writer, editor and public relations professional, with a focus on all things real estate. At RE/MAX Canada, Lydia translates market data and trends into educational and entertaining content for homebuyers and sellers, while furthering the RE/MAX brand's reach, nationally and globally. Explore timely news articles, market trend reports and thought-leadership on blog.remax.ca. Lydia has been published nationally on topics ranging from real estate to architecture, design and decor, finance, business, technology, entertainment and lifestyle topics. Email Lydia at lmcnutt@remax.ca
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