Re/Max report points to optimism in cottage country, but sales still lag

The 2011 Re/Max Recreational Property Report, examining sales and trends in 46 markets across the country, found that sales rose or remained on par in just 41% of recreational real estate markets.

But Re/Max Realtors across the country are reporting - based on anecdotal evidence (calls, showings, etc.) - that demand in these markets has improved by nearly 80%, putting the national market for vacation properties on course for its best year ever.  

But many mortgage brokers don't agree with this assessment, saying the season is a little cooler than the report suggests.

"It is slower," Lori Snowden, a broker with Neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres. "That doesn't mean that the sales aren't happening, but cooler weather and higher gas prices have not helped, and buyers may be using existing lines of credit or the banks to purchase."

Snowden, like other brokers focused on Canada's cottage country, are largely depending on real estate agent referrals to drive business, although her existing clients are also providing new leads.

"I've been in Haliburton for six years now and my clients are referring me to friends and family now," she said. "I find that what buyers are looking for in a broker is someone who is in Toronto, where they live, in order to facilitate the refinancing of their primary residence, which is usually what they opt for instead of taking out a new mortgage on the property."

Still, activity this season has varied widely from cottage community to cottage community, she said, making it even harder to evaluate the report.

Re/Max did find that an increasing number of American owners of Canadian vacation properties are now capitalizing on the high loonie and are "cashing out" their properties.

With files from, a division of KMI Media.

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