How To Buy Cottage Country Real Estate
Article by Stefan Hyross
Now may be the perfect time to buy the cabin you always dreamed of seeing that the cottage real estate industry was not spared by the economic downturn. The cabin country real estate market is now more stable after years of the demand surpassing the supply. Time-share and new condo developments are offering generous incentives to potential buyers while the values of resale cottages are falling as seen in the Collingwood real estate market.
Securing the help of an area specialist should be your primary order of business. Just be sure you choose a real estate agent with a thorough working knowledge of recreational properties. Do not conclude that because an agent works in a community surrounded by lakes and cottages he will have the answer to your questions. Try to find an area specialist with knowledge of the particular recreational real estate market.
One very important aspect to consider is zoning. In some instances, cottage country municipalities may have adopted season using zoning preventing you from turning your cabin into a year round property. The same applies for additions and added constructions. Once you select an area that you like, be sure that you ask your agent about zoning by-laws. While the zoning by-laws are established by the municipalities, day-to-day issues are dealt with by the cottage associations.
You should be aware that you may not allowed to change the beach or shore line of a waterfront cottage that may appeal to you. Adding fill or modifying the slope of the land may be stopped from the authorities, as is the case for Collingwood cottages. You will also require permission to modify or construct structures such as docks, boathouses, retaining walls, etc that impact the shoreline. You need to be sure the legality of the current structures or that changes can be done in the future and this can be done with a clause in the purchase agreement.
The road access to and from your cottage is another element that should be researched before finalizing a purchase. You should clarify if the road access is public or private, whether it is usable year round, and who is responsible for the upkeep of the roadway. The access may be along a private right of way in some instances.
The sewage and water systems are another thing to consider. In many cases, water is obtained from wells or from lakes and rivers. It is important to have your water tested by the local health authorities to ensure that is safe to drink. You may need to install a mechanical purifier in order to access potable water. Waste disposal is generally provided with a septic system and these are strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Act. In a lot of older properties, the septic system may be a crude improvisation. If you are planning to build an addition on the cabin, you may need to replace the septic system as it will most likely no longer be adequate.
A last consideration would be the financing of the cottage. You will require financial assistance, if like most purchasers, you cannot manage to pay cash for the cottage. The quantity of financing available will change but in most cases, financial institutions will require a minimum down payment of 20%. The financing options available for recreational properties should be evaluated with a local mortgage broken with knowledge of this market.