Investors warned about cottage buys

The buying and renting of recreational homes is reportedly getting tougher with demanding short-term tenants and misinformed agents.

The short-term leasing of cottage homes may be a lucrative business but investors are facing new obstacles as they try to get into the market.

One Muskoka-focused real estate agent is cautioning investors to choose their agents carefully, cautioning against city-dwelling Realtors who think selling an urban condo is the same as selling a waterfront cottage.

“The biggest challenge in Muskoka is that we have agents from the city coming up and trying to sell properties, but they don’t know anything about septic systems, they’re not attuned to actual values,” says Re/Max Realtor Ross McLean. “It creates a challenge.”

Investors should make sure their Realtor knows about a property’s septic systems, and whether the property’s water source is via the lake or from a well. Agents also need to understand the lot coverage, the zoning bylaws and any restrictions by the township.

Realtors should also know what the value of different properties so that investors don’t overpay. McLean points to a listing that he currently has; the current owner used a city agent who didn’t know better and advised the client to overpay for the property.

“Now he’s stuck with the property and he has to come to terms with that. He paid probably $150,000 too much,” McLean says. “That’s why it’s important to use a Realtor who understands the values [of waterfront properties].”

While short-term rentals may be rising for prime properties, so are tenant demands.  Wi-Fi is now ranked the most attractive amenity, according to a Trip Advisor survey, as well as a modern entertainment system such as flat screen TV.

Property managers in cottage country say that houses that are pet-friendly and include a cleaning service rent for the highest price and quickest time.

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