Last week, I took a mini-vacation and headed to a friend’s cottage in Nova Scotia. After three days of swimming, kayaking, and eating lobster, I started looking at real estate ads for cottages. Have you had the same experience?
The episode From City to Country: Top Cottage Trends in 2021 features Michelle Kelly – the editor of Cottage Life Magazine and host of the Cottage Life podcast. They cover everything from the cottage country real estate market to advice for first-time cottage buyers, and SO much more. This is the perfect episode to get you in the summer mood.
Here are my “Coles Notes” of Key Trends:
- Cottage sales are up 30% over 2020 as city residents flee the pandemic.
- Buyers have become creative in finding ways to afford a cottage. We have had clients who have “gone in on” a cottage with friends or family. Buyers who feel priced out of the urban markets are deciding to buy a cottage before they buy a house. Fractional ownership (timeshare) is another way to access affordable cottage life.
- Renting before you buy is a great way to test-drive cottage life and find a lake that meets your lifestyle.
- Michelle’s advice for first time buyers – buying a cottage is not like a city home. Your REALTOR® will provide guidance on septic systems, water sources, road/island access, and more.
- Location and access to services is an important buyer consideration. Do you need wifi or would you prefer to unplug in a “wifi hole”. Do you need to be near a hospital? If you might use the cottage year-round, do you need to know about the local schools? We have clients who have decided that cottage life is so great, they have enrolled their children in the local public school this fall.
- You can always change or improve a cottage, but some things can’t be changed. Make sure the waterfront meets your needs. You can’t change the view. If you dream of having a glass of wine at sunset, you need a western view. You can’t change the neighbours. Do you really want a cottage that is down the lake from a raucous summer camp?
- Cottagers, with newly flexible work arrangements, have more flexibility for drive time. Why sit on the 401 on Friday afternoon when you can hit the road at 11:30 Thursday morning? This also means that the cottage can be a bit farther from home. As “Cottage Country” expands the Kingston area has become popular with buyers from Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
- Michelle projects that the cottage market will continue to have low supply and high demand. Many recent and future buyers will depend on rentals to help off-set costs. Others may consider moving to cottage full time and selling their home in the city. Work from home has opened up so many options that were not available a couple of years ago.
- Another trend is buying “toys” for the cottage. Some Canadians have a surplus due to lower expenses during the pandemic (no daycare, hockey equipment, gymnastics classes) and they are using that cash to buy toys.
- A final tip from Michelle is to research your ability to add more space to your cottage. More cottages are shared or multi-generational – creating a need for additional private spaces. Make sure you know the building code and local regulations before our buy a cottage that needs an addition.