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Pandemic creating cottage country boom with prices up as much as 44 per cent

Jessy Bains
·2-min read

Pandemic travel restrictions mean vacations are off the table and millions are working from home, and Canadians are rushing to scoop up recreational properties — creating a cottage country boom.

According to a new report from realtor Royal LePage, the aggregate price of a single-family home in Canada’s recreational markets rose 11.5 per cent to $453,046 in the first 9 months of 2020. Condos rose 9.7 per cent to $280,830. Waterfront property has been the biggest prize, with a 13.5 per cent jump to $498,111.

“The pandemic has affected enormous economic and health challenges upon the nation; it has also opened a world of possibility for thousands of Canadians,” said Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper in the report.

“On lake and on sea, upon soaring mountain tops and on expansive farmlands, many Canadians are embracing a bold, new work-from-home doctrine: ‘I can live anywhere in this huge land.”

When broken down by region, the strength is even more stunning. Alberta is the only province where single family homes in its recreational market are down, lower by 7.6 per cent, due to a 9.6 per cent drop in Canmore. But Gravenhurst, Ontario is up the most at 44 per cent and the province is up 20 per cent.

Sutton, Quebec is runner up at 36.6 per cent. Third place goes to Christopher Lake/Emma Lake, Saskatchewan at 31.6 per cent.

Besides Canmore, Candle Lake, Saskatchewan is the only other area where prices fell (1 per cent). A full list of price movements can be found here.

The report found 54 per cent of Royal LePage recreational property experts, representing 53 of Canada’s most popular recreational markets, said they’ve seen increased interest from buyers looking for property to work from home.

While the work from home has been a key driver, retirees and boomers on the cusp of retirement are bidding up recreation property too.

“Retiring baby boomers have been putting upward pressure on prices and reducing inventory for the last few years. Retirees are now finding themselves competing against remote workers. Both demographics have seen their savings grow through less travel and entertainment during the pandemic,” said Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka’s Bob Clarke, in the report.

“We are also seeing an increase in current Muskoka owners who are looking to purchase larger properties, as their children have returned after job loss or the ability to work remotely. The most common question used to be ‘is the property West-facing?’ Now my clients’ biggest concern is internet quality.”

Royal LePage expects the trend to continue in 2021, with an 8 per cent national increase for recreational properties.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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