What to think about when buying a cottage

Purchasing a cottage may seem like a bargain compared with a home in the city, but buyers still need to do their due diligence.

According to a story in the Globe and Mail, many millennials priced out of the Toronto market are taking their first steps on the property ladder in cottage country, preferring to rent accommodation in the city rather than saddle themselves with unmanageable debt by buying a home there.

Compared with the rest of the population, the report noted that millennials are twice as interested in owning cottages, while close to two-thirds of Canadians in that generation are thinking of buying one in the next decade.

“Outside of the city, your money can go a lot further,” one tech entrepreneur told the newspaper, explaining why she and her husband had opted to buy a vacation home in Prince Edward County.

That may be true, but a cottage is a still a significant and potentially very long-term investment, which is why I recommend hiring an experienced real estate lawyer to guide you through the process.

Beaches and boating are big attraction for many vacationers, but buyers will want to conduct a title search to ensure that water access is assured for property owners. This process will also allow purchasers to confirm the lot size and boundaries, another frequent source of conflict in cottage country.

In addition, obtaining basic information about the cottage’s fuel, heat and water sources are critical, since they may have an impact on the property’s insurability, or even a lender’s willingness to provide a mortgage.
But the biggest question you have to ask yourself when purchasing a recreational property is what’s your purpose for it?

For some buyers, the cottage is a place they intend to visit frequently, in the hope that it will become a permanent fixture in the family history.

Looking far into the future, the property’s accessibility, as well as its proximity to amenities, shops and hospitals could become a factor if you intend on visiting in your older years.

For those taking a more investment-minded approach to cottage ownership, personal visits may not even be a priority, bringing other issues into consideration.

The couple in the Globe story only stayed at their vacation home once every few weeks, renting it out on Airbnb for the remainder of the month.

But markets for short-term rentals vary wildly depending on the location and condition of the cottage, so you will want to find out whether you can expect to bring in enough money to cover your expenses, and make sure that you can handle property management and maintenance from a distance.

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