Tag Archives: cottage living

Mike Holmes: Getting ready for cottage season

If you’ve been dreaming of going to the cottage all winter, well, it’s almost that time. But before you fire up the grill, and take that first jump off the dock – you’ve got the task of opening up the cottage.

Here are a few of the major jobs you want to get out of the way that first weekend up north.

Start From the Top

You probably cleared the eavestrough before shutting down for the season – but one of your first tasks should be to clean out any debris that accumulated over the winter. You want to make sure that water can properly drain away from you home. While you’re on your ladder, it’s a good idea to check the roof for any signs of damage or intruders.

Animal Patrol

You want to be on the lookout for telltale signs of animals. I’m talking about obvious signs of entry – things like torn window screens, or holes in your soffits. Animals can even pull away siding, or find entry through your chimney or roof venting.

Even a seemingly harmless mouse can cause issues. They will eat away at wood in your home or chew through electrical wires. If you spot any chewed up wires or cords make a call to your local electrician. They need to check your electrical system and make sure it’s safe.

If any critters have taken up space as unwanted tenants, you will also want to bring in a professional pest control expert. Believe me, you want them evicted before they reproduce and cause an infestation.

If you find signs of mice, you will want to spray any area they’ve been with a disinfectant. It’s important to keep those dirty particles from floating around, because breathing in materials from their droppings or saliva can make you sick. Remember to wear a disposable mask and gloves to reduce the risk of contact.

Let Your Home Breathe

Once you’ve checked for signs of pests, it’s time to inspect the interior. Start by opening the windows. The space will need circulation, especially if it was locked up tight all winter long.

Trust your nose. If you notice a strong musty smell, it could mean a moisture problem – and that can lead to mould. You need to stop the source of moisture first, otherwise you’re going to be dealing with mould problems again and again.

For small areas, you can likely clean it yourself as long as you have the proper cleaning solution and safety gear (goggles, gloves, and a respirator or mask), but for large mould infestations, bring in a remediation expert.

Check the caulking around windows and doors and replace any damaged areas. Broken caulking leaves the perfect entryway for water to seep in, and it’s an easy fix. Same with the weather stripping around doors – if it’s damaged it’s simple to fix, but if left unrepaired, you’re leaving an open invitation for water penetration.

Bring Back the Power

When you turn the power back on, take things room by room. Make sure everything is working as it should, and be on the hunt for flickering lights, a burning smell from appliances, or any sparking fixtures.

Next, switch the water back on. Again, room by room, you want to be looking for any leaks. Finally, test your HVAC system, and change the air filter.

Inspect Your Deck

Before entertaining this season – make sure you are checking your deck thoroughly. The railings, steps, and ledger board (the piece of the deck that holds the structure to the building) all need to be safe and secure. You want to see that the decking material is still in good condition with no dry rot, or damage from insects.

Most home inspections will include a deck safety check, so if you’re unsure of what you should be looking at, a licensed home inspector can help point out areas of concern.

Your cottage is your home away from home during the summer – but just because you may only be there on weekends, doesn’t mean you can slack on your regular maintenance. Cottage season goes by so quickly, but treat it like you would your home – make it right, and make it safe.

Watch Mike Holmes in his series, Holmes Makes It Right, on HGTV. For more information, visit makeitright.ca.

Source: National Post – Mike Holmes | May 6, 2017

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Impact of Trump win on Canada’s real estate: Time to hunker down in your cottages

U.s. presidential election - donald trump

The world’s collective jaws dropped after the early morning announcement: The next President of the United States is reality-TV star, Donald Trump.

But Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential race raises more questions than confidence—which was reflected in the greenback’s dip early this morning while safe-haven sovereign bonds and gold shot higher. The market is now reflecting fears of a prolonged global uncertainty over the new presidential leader’s policies.

What happens to interest (and mortgage) rates?

For the last few weeks, analysts were predicting that the U.S. Federal Reserve was poised to gradually start increasing interest rates, to reflect the country’s slowly growing economy. Trump’s win may have scuttled this strategy.

Part of the problem is that Trump’s promise to deport 11 million workers—because they presumably entered the country illegally—will have a dangerous impact on America’s currently tight labour market.

Unemployment in the U.S. dipped to its lowest in June at 4.9%. “The country is entering what economists call full employment,” says Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage. “By taking that many workers out of the labour force, Trump could bring business to a grinding halt.” Quite simply, it’s a plan that most business people and many leading economists say is very damaging both to the U.S. and to the Canadian economy.

Remove that many workers from the labour pool and you create a labour shortage, which could prompt businesses to contract and slow down in order to fend-off the quickly rising cost of wages.

To combat a business contraction, the U.S. Federal Reserve may abandon decisions to start raising interest rates. The idea is that by keeping rates low, the Fed will continue to encourage banks to lend money and convince businesses to expand (through the use of cheap credit). But it’s been six years of near-zero rates. For many it was time to start seeing better returns. With prolonged low rates from the Feds, it’s unlikely that the Bank of Canada will increase rates, so we can probably expect a prolonged ultra-low rate environment in both Canada and the U.S.

 

Impact on home buyers: Continued low mortgage rates

For anyone buying a home, Trump’s win may help suppress any potential mortgage rate increase that was on the horizon.

This continued low-rate environment won’t stop the slight uptick in mortgage rates, caused by the recent Federal Liberal mortgage rule changes. However, it may prompt different levels of government to consider alternative methods for cooling heated housing markets. According to CBC.ca, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa believes:

“something has to be done” to help people deal with soaring home prices in Toronto.

Sousa is poised to make an announcement next week as to how provincial government will help first-time buyers in Toronto, without hurting home prices in surrounding areas.

For tips on how U.S. citizens can buy in Canada, visit the BRELTeam’s primer on buying homes in Canada.

Impact on home sellers: Could be a rush to buy in Canada

Trump’s presidential win could be a boon for some home sellers in Canada. We could actually see a surge in demand for Canadian homes, says Soper. “Some [Americans] may be so fed-up that they decide to head north.”

This would certainly bolster “Brand Canada,” says SopeMo, as more demand may help support real estate prices, particularly in larger urban centres. Of course, this assumes the American dollar won’t lose value and remove the relatively high purchasing power a U.S. buyer would have in Canada.

If Americans do decide to move north, sellers in bigger urban centres could see the biggest impact as the U.S. dollar still has about 30% more buying power than the Loonie. Home sellers in Vancouver, however, shouldn’t expect a big uptick in American interest, as the Foreign Buyer’s tax that was announced and introduced this past August, will probably dampen interest in property in the Lower Mainland.

 

Impact on vacation properties: Hunker down

Probably the biggest impact will be felt by vacation property owners. Americans are the largest foreign buyers of Canadian property. “Part of the reason is the relative affordability of our recreational properties based on the strength of the American dollar,” says Soper. But the dip in U.S. currency, could mean a wholesale withdrawal from the Canadian vacation property market—and this could impact Canada’s recreational property market for years.

For instance, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were extremely popular destinations for Americans prior to the 2008/2009 financial collapse. But after the global credit crunch, cottages and lake-front home prices plunged as much as 60%. Some of these markets are still in the process or recovering, almost a decade later.

 

Impact on house prices across Canada is uncertain

The impact of Trump’s election doesn’t stop there. Pre-election promises to place massive tariffs on Chinese imported goods and to “tear-up NAFTA” could mean trading-wars that could seriously impede Canada’s currently slow-growing economy.

In relative terms, trade is much more important to Canada than to the United States. The Americans can afford to be insular since they have 325 million people in their market to our less than 35 million. “Any protectionist stance from the U.S. would do significant damage to Canada,” says Soper. And any hit in our slow-growing economy could further prolong our climb out of the ultra-low interest rate environment. Worse, it could prompt lay-offs in certain parts of the country, where exports and trade help shape the local economies. This will impact localized housing markets.

Think Alberta and low oil prices, and you get the picture.

Source: Money Sense – by   November 9th, 2016

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8 factors influencing the cottage real estate market in 2015

Waterfront property

This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Cottage Lifemagazine

While everyone has an opinion about what’s going on with Canada’s housing market—bubble, no bubble, overheated in some regions andsluggish in others—getting a read on cottage-country real estate can be a bit tougher: the voices aren’t quite as loud, and the news coverage is spotty at best. We set out to scan the market from coast to coast to see what’s happening in recreational real estate, what you can expect in 2015, and how to make what’s going on work in your favour.

Realtors from B.C. to Newfoundland report that their two most common types of buyers are young families with children tapping into their home equity to buy cottages and near or recent retirees who are looking to make a cottage-country property their primary residence. In both cases, kids come into play. “I see grandparents getting places here as grandchild catchers,” says Ann Chiasson, a broker-owner of Re/Max Sea to Sky Real Estate in Whistler, B.C. In contrast, in the areas of the country that attracted the first wave of retiring boomer buyers, such as Ontario’s Kawarthas, those cottage owners, now more elderly, are selling and heading back to town to be closer to services and family. “We have a lot of retirees up here, but they’re the ones selling, not buying,” says Linda Duncan, a sales representative with Royal LePage Kawartha Lakes Realty. Whether you’re inthe young family demographic, approaching retirement, or you’re simply ready to get into the market, here are the factors influencing what you’ll find, how much it will cost—and how you could score a better buy.

Hot home market = hot cottage market

Some call it “residential spillover.” Those lucky enough to own a home in a hot residential market may just call it “tapping into my equity.” What itmeans in cottage country is that buyers with homes in strong residential markets—the strongest markets in Canada, according to a recent Pricewaterhouse-Coopers report on real estate trends in 2015, include Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Ottawa—are pushing up the prices in nearby accessible cottage markets. But the flip side of this trend is that buyers may find bargains in cottage areas closer toweaker housing markets, such as Winnipeg, Montreal, and Halifax. And what realtors are seeing on the ground seems to bear that out, with high levels of cottage inventory noted in Manitoba, parts of Quebec, and Nova Scotia, with more cottages on the market meaning more competitive pricing overall.

Make it work for you: Opt to province-hop. Even with the higher travel costs, it may make sense to buy a cheaper place in another province, especially if your schedule allows you to visit for longer periods of cottage time, as opposed to shorter stays and weekend use.

Province-hopping 

When it comes to buying out of province, realtors are noticing the trend. “I deal with a lot of people who are either selling their big home in Alberta or their family farm in Ontario, and are looking to buy here and still have a nest egg to retire on,” says Gabe Routhier of Trade-winds Realty in Hubbards, N.S. Some are buying traditional homes to use as recreational properties—“Out here, really every property can be used as a recreational property, because you’re near the ocean,” he says—while others are purchasing actual cottages. But it’s not just the East Coast that has benefitted from high house values in other parts of the country: last year, British Columbia was seeing similar buying trends with cottage hunters flush from Alberta’s then-booming economy. “Last summer, we had tons of Albertans driving around,” says Al Christopherson of Century 21 Lakeside Realty, North Shuswap branch. Some expected property prices to be unrealistically low and made what he calls “stinky, low-ball offers,” including a $140,000 offer on a $199,900 log-barn conversion property and an $8,000 offer on a lot listed at $14,500. With the drop in oil prices, though, Christopherson says he’s seeing fewer Albertans hunt-ing in the B.C. market. Still, B.C. buyers appear to have taken up the slack, so sales are still up overall. 

Make it work for you: If you are province-hopping, you may want to keep your home address under your hat so that sellers don’t assume that you’ve got bags of out-of-province loot in the trunk of your car. As well, don’t assume that every property is a bargain just because it would be more expensive closer to home: take the time to research areas and prices so that your offer is in line with local property values.

The cottage office 

With cottage commutes getting uglier in many parts of the country, buyers are looking for recreational properties that have the amenities for working from the deck or dock. Just a few years ago, cottage Internet access was often dodgy (though residents in rural Nova Scotia and some other parts of the country will tell you it still is), and cellphone reception could be intermittent. Today, though, the extension of broadband service into rural communities has improved access, so that working from the cottage is more feasible than ever. That access means cottagers can dodge the weekend traffic with a day or two of telecommuting—and it also means that good cell and Internet access can be a selling feature.

Make it work for you One cottager’s unacceptable isolation may be another’s nirvana: if working from the cottage isn’t on your radar, you’ll have less competition and may get a bargain in an area that doesn’t have good broadband coverage.

Year round, all the way 

While four-season properties have long been desirable in winter recreation areas—such as Ontario’s Collingwood and British Columbia’s Whistler—four-season use now tips well outside traditional ski areas. “Everyone wants their place to be usable year round,” says
John Jarvis, a broker and an owner of
Re/Max North Country Realty in Huntsville, Ont. “Nearly one hundred per cent of my buyers are looking for four-season places.” Partly, Jarvis says, it’s because buyers want a property that they can enjoy year round, but he adds that financing options are more flexible for those purchasing a year-round recreational property than for those buying a three-season cottage. “The banks seem to be more competitive with offering funding for second homes,” he says. That desire for four-season use stretches across the country, and it’s a factor in markets in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Make it work for you: Consider three-season properties with upgrade potential if you need four-season use, or simply go three-season if winter use isn’t on your must-have list.

A little help from some friends…or family 

Royal LePage broker-manager David Kingshott in Parry Sound, Ont., saysthat it isn’t uncommon in his region for friends and family to purchase property together. It’s a trend that agents in Alberta’s Gleniffer Lake and Pine Lake areas and B.C.’s East Kootenay area—regions with relatively high cottage prices—also cite. Sharing tends to be more likely in higher-priced areas where splitting the costs may be the only way into the market for some families. Still, even in those markets, shared purchases don’t always stay shared. “While we used to see families or friends sharing, in almost every case one member of the group would eventually end up buying out the other shares,” says Whistler realtor Ann Chiasson. While joint purchases were a factor in the Okanagan in B.C. in the past, softening prices linked to the economic downturn have made properties there more affordable and lessened the likelihood of sharing. In more economical regions, multi-party buying is even less common. “I have quite a few properties that would be perfect for that sort of thing, but people seem to hesitate to buy in groups,” says Tradewinds’ Routhier in Nova Scotia. “When we do have a deal involving multiple parties, it’s usually something like a son buying a place and letting extended family use it or moving an elderly parent into a recreational property. But it doesn’t happen often.”

Make it work for you: A shared purchase can put more properties within your reach—but buying together can be challenging. Check out “How to Draft a Sharing Agreement” online at cottagelife.com for advice on successful co-ownership.

Better roads = new cottage options

With an increased emphasis on ease of getting to the cottage, it should be no surprise that highway improvements can play a role in boosting cottage prices. For instance, three Ontario projects have raised interest in cottage areas: the opening of the Hwy. 404 extension near Keswick and Georgina, on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe; the imminent expansion of Hwy. 407 east of Picker-ing, giving better access to the East Kawartha region; and the expansion of Hwy. 416 in the Ottawa region. 

Make it work for you: Take a look at quieter areas just beyond the reach of highway improvements, suggests Huntsville’s John Jarvis. “If you’re looking in Huntsville with a budget of $400,000, you can’t afford anything in the main area, but if you head east, west, or north of the busiest areas, the prices go down quite a bit,” he says. “Take a $650,000 cottage in Huntsville. If you go toward Haliburton, a similar cottage with the same shoreline and lake size may only cost $450,000. You get more value for your dollar and your taxes will be less.”

Are the Americans coming (back)? 

For the last six or seven years, a higher Canadian dollar and a tougher U.S.economy meant that American buyers weren’t much of a factor in cottage real estate. With our dollar dipping, though, analysts are suggesting that American buyers are starting to look north again—and Canadian buyers who may have looked south will likely stick closer to home, where their dollar will go further. These two trends are likely to drive up interest in areas such as B.C. and the Maritimes. Ann Chiasson, in Whistler, has already noticed a change. “The Americans are starting to come back now,” she says. “The dollar has dropped and they can save 10 to 15 per cent.”

Meanwhile, some agents in Nova Scotia say they’re not seeing that yet. “We’re not getting the American buyers we used to,” says Gabe Routhier. “We’re now seeing buyers who are mainly from within Canada, plus we’re getting a lot of interest from Germany.”

Make it work for you: If you’re looking in an area that’s an easy drive from the U.S. or has a history of American cottage ties, getting into the market sooner rather than later—before there’s more competition for properties—makes sense, and you may see your property value pop up if and when those foreign buyers return.

Reno? No thanks 

“In the last boom, in 2005-06, we saw a lot of buyers willing to buy a place and then do a big renovation on it, but we’re not seeing that much now,” says Richard Greaves, a broker-owner with Re/Max Alpine Realty in Canmore, Alta. “People now prefer to buy something that is already done.” Realtors in Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula and the Vernon area of B.C. are also seeing a shift to a desire for fully renovated properties that require no major work. Still, realtors in some areas, such as Saskatchewan’s Christopher Lake and Candle Lake area, report an interest in vacant lots, especially on the part of younger buyers. Improvements in prefabricated cottage kits may be driving interest in lots in some areas, says Huntsville’s Jarvis. “Prefabs were really popular about 30 years ago, and they’re becoming popular again, due to the dramatically increased quality,” he says. And off-the-grid options? Realtors say they’re seeing little if any interest, and little priority on green options as well. “The focus is on full service, Wi-Fi, Internet, heat, paved road,” says Century 21’s Christopherson in Scotch Creek, B.C. “They want the cottage life, but they don’t want to be too country: no 4×4 roads, no off the grid, none of that silliness as they see it.”

Make it work for you: With so much focus on ready-to-move-in cottages with full service and paved roads, you may find bargains by going to a more remote area, looking for properties down gravel roads or those with more rustic appeal. If your cottage life dream is off grid, even better: the competition for such properties and lots is likely to be low—and you might have good resale value in the future, as people now in their 20s and 30s start buy-ing properties. “I think as younger buyers start to come into some money, we’ll see greener options become a larger part of the market,” says Nova Scotia’s Routhier.

Still, while arming yourself with the knowledge on the latest trends can open your eyes to options you hadn’t considered, for most buyers, cottages end up being a purchase motivated more by heart than by head. Says Royal LePage’s Duncan in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes area: “Most buyers just want to get up by a lake and get a cottage.”

Source: Cottage Life by By y

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Moving to cottage country? Bring lots of money

Secluded and relatively boat-free Blackmore Lake, near Bracebridge, has just three cottages on it – and one of them is on the market for $1-million.

As high temperatures and abundant sunshine finally arrived in Ontario’s cottage country, real estate broker Anita Latner was heading out on a tour of Muskoka’s “big three” lakes with a couple who are looking for their first cottage.

Ms. Latner says the family from Toronto has $1-million “or a little more” to spend. That’s pretty much an entry-level budget for a property on Lake Joseph, Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau.

Ms. Latner says clients from Toronto often tell her that they had to trim their wish list when looking for a city house because prices are so rich. When the time comes to purchase a cottage, they will take the time to find exactly what they want. Ms. Latner is used to spending a couple of years helping buyers to find their getaway.

“It’s really hard on the big three to do anything under a million,” says the broker at Anita Latner Realty Inc. “They’ve already made compromises on their home. This is their dream; this is their oasis.”

Ms. Latner says cottage country was buzzing in July because so many city dwellers were avoiding the influx of PanAm Games athletes and visitors. But the height of summer tends to be the time when people enjoy cottage life instead of buying and selling.

“It just seems to be a nice pace,” she says of real estate activity. The number of listings is fairly typical for the summer months, she adds.

Ms. Latner recently listed a rustic cabin on 100 acres on relatively untouched Blackmore Lake for $1-million. There are only two other cottages on the lake and the owners of this property use the lake for water skiing because of the lack of boat traffic. They’ve set up a permanent full slalom water ski course that will be sold with the cabin.

“It’s a little bit quirky,” she says of the property.

The cabin has an outhouse and no electricity, she says, adding that the lake is surrounded by bush. A new owner could build a large cottage, she says, or keep the existing building. The relative isolation and lack of neighbouring cottages is unusual.

“It’s just so still and you don’t have to get up early in the morning and hope you beat the traffic.”

Ms. Latner says more U.S.-based buyers may head to Canada’s cottage country now that the loonie has fallen steeply in value against the U.S. dollar.

“Holy Toledo – that’s a lot of money in your pocket,” she says of the difference, which knocks the price of the Blackmore Lake parcel down to $800,000 in U.S. dollars.

Ms. Latner recently represented a buyer who purchased an investment property in the heart of Gravenhurst. The three retail shops with three apartments above them were listed for sale with an asking price of $629,000.

Ms. Latner says the Toronto-based client was looking farther afield because land prices have soared to dizzying heights in the city. The businesses that occupy the space – including a hair salon and a clothing boutique – will stay on, according to Ms. Latner.

“To invest in commercial [property] in Toronto is excruciatingly expensive,” she says. “I think a lot of these guys are shying away from Toronto.”

Meanwhile, the residential real estate market in Toronto has been quiet, agents say.

Some properties changed hands during the two weeks of the PanAm Games – including some that drew multiple offers – but, over all, the pace was slow, says Patrick Rocca of Bosley Real Estate Ltd.

“I suspect most people, because of the fear factor around the traffic, left town [because of] the Games,” Mr. Rocca says.

Mr. Rocca says he chatted with owners of shops and cafés on Bayview Avenue and some estimated that their business dipped 10 per cent during the Games.

The recent interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada has not yet sparked an increase in buying, he adds, but Mr. Rocca expects listings to pick up now that the Civic holiday weekend has passed.

Sohail Mansoor, an agent with Royal LePage Signature Realty, also found July fairly calm. But many listings also get a second look in the middle of the summer, he says, as buyers concentrate on the properties that are sitting instead of waiting for new ones.

An agent in his office received an offer recently for a property that had been listed for three months.

Mr. Mansoor’s listing at 85 Lake Promenade was still waiting for a buyer, despite a price cut to $1.85-million from $2.1-million. The four-bedroom property, which hit the market in early May, is right on the shore of Lake Ontario.

He says the location is ideal for buyers who want an unobstructed view of the water but the layout of the house is better suited to a couple or a family with older children. He figures it’s taking longer to sell because it’s not a typical family home.

Others on Lake Promenade in Etobicoke are also still on the market, he adds.

“It’s a good time to be a buyer because there’s less competition,” he says.

Source: CAROLYN IRELAND The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Aug. 06, 2015 1:03PM EDT

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