1. Location

A place in the country offers an escape from the pace of urban life, but make sure you know what you want in terms of location: lakefront, ski chalet, former farm, or in a village.  And remember to consider privacy and access. What about ease of ownership – do you want minimal upkeep or do you enjoy doing outside chores such as property maintenance?

Takeaway: Be your own devil’s advocate and ask yourself if cottage ownership really is right for you. Sometimes renting is a more practical route.

2. Price

How much do you want to pay? Waterfront on a sought-after larger lake will almost certainly be in the $1-million-plus range, as are homes at ski resorts such as Tremblant or Blue Mountain. A survey last year by realtor Royal LePage showed that recreational property prices and sales in Quebec and Ontario have slightly increased recent years. As well, the low Canadian dollar is attracting American buyers to prime locations, and also prompting some Canadians with Florida properties to cash out and buy back home.

Takeaway: Don’t rush into a purchase. There is value out there, but it takes longer to find it in the country than in the city.

3. Zoning and environment

When considering a particular area or property, find out about zoning restriction, such as setbacks from lakefront or property lines and rights of way. Are there strict environmental regulations? This can be both a plus or a minus, depending on your circumstances. What about local homeowner associations and conservation groups? Is land in the area owned (and thus protected) by the Nature Conservancy of Canada?

Takeaway: Local rules can make a big difference in your long-term enjoyment of a property, so do your homework.

4. Infrastructure and inspection

A key consideration when buying rural land is source of water and septic system. Are utilities (electricity, telephone, internet) close at hand and do they meet your needs? A thorough building inspection is essential, including conformity with bylaws.

Takeaway: If an inspection reveals too many issues, don’t let your emotions drive your decision.

5. Financing and legal

If you need a mortgage, be aware that few lenders will finance a three-season property. Moreover, for a higher-ratio loan, you will need to arrange private mortgage insurance, as CMHC doesn’t insure second homes.

Takeaway: Consider refinancing your city home to fund a cottage purchase.

A cottage typically becomes a family asset, so you should include estate planning in this process. We are experts in this area – please give us a call. We can help.