Recreational real estate market picks up

Canada’s recreational property market got off to a slow start in 2015, according to a new report by Royal LePage, but agents are now experiencing a rush of activity as buyers make up for lost time.

The organization’s annual Recreational Property Report, published on Thursday, said that increased activity levels in mid-to-late spring 2015 showed that recreational property buyers merely delayed purchase decisions this year, unlike in 2014 when the extended winter dampened total sales values.

The exception to this is in Alberta, some border areas of eastern B.C. that cater to Albertans, and in Newfoundland, where a depressed energy sector has reduced activity levels and put downward pressure on prices.

“The dream of recreational property ownership is very much alive and well across the country,” says Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage.

“Dominated primarily by buyers in their 40s and 50s with families, these are people who are seeking to re-create the idyllic weekends and summers of their youth.

“Looking ahead, many see their current weekend getaway as a future full-time residence, both as a base for ‘work from home’ arrangements as they become empty-nesters, and onward into retirement.”

According to the report, agents across the country are reporting a surge of interest from buyers who have already absorbed a good deal of the available inventory, including many listings that sat unsold last year.

However, brokers warn that prices could begin to climb again as new inventory has not kept up with sales volumes. “Today’s low interest rate environment has supported discretionary, aspirational purchases in a number of sectors,” adds Soper. “Our agents who serve the urban luxury home market have been extremely busy this year.

Soper also says that the fall of oil prices have actually supported the recreational property market this year. “Cheaper gasoline makes the prospect of a weekend commute to the lake a more affordable proposition,” he says.

“And cheap oil means a lower Canadian dollar, which has more people looking at Muskoka, Tremblant and the B.C. interior, and fewer casting covetous glances at Florida and Arizona. We are even seeing money making its way north, particularly in British Columbia, Alberta and Atlantic Canada, as the strong U.S. currency has increased American buying power.”

Consistent with previous reports, the demand for waterfront properties continues to produce the greatest price appreciation, but since waterfront is finite there is only so much property to go around.

To learn more about Canada's recreational property market from coast to coast, subcribe to CREW magazine for our annual 'Cash Flow at the Cottage' report.

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