More and more people - especially "baby boomers" - are looking at recreation property ownership as the perfect way of finding peace and tranquility.
Studies show that boomers are the fastest-growing group of recreation property owners. The need to find that special spot away from it all - plus low mortgage rates - have fueled demand. Is this the right time to buy that hideaway you have been dreaming of, and is it the right buy for you?
Owning your primary residence does not completely prepare you for owning vacation property. In many ways buying recreational property is like buying any other form of real estate but some of the details are quite unique. Like owning a home, there are benefits and challenges to owning recreation property and a REALTOR® who specializes in the particular area of "cottage country" you are interested in will be of tremendous help in making your purchase a success.
Things to consider
Whether in a city or small town, most homes are located in a subdivision or similar development that stipulates a building scheme, supplies water, sewers and other utilities and provides an established layout of roads and sidewalks.
Cottage development, on the other hand, rarely follows any established pattern. Most cottages that border a waterfront have been developed over the course of many years. Often municipal or regional planning involvement has been limited and most day-to-day concerns are handled by local associations.
Waterfront properties are often subject to the rules of regulatory bodies that control what can be done with the beach and shoreline. These regulations may prevent cottage owners from making additions or installing new structures. They may also prevent an owner from altering the slope of the land.
Generally docks, boat houses, retaining walls and other structures require permission from the appropriate government authorities. Before purchasing a cottage property, you should check on the legality of the current structures and ensure that any intended changes can be undertaken in the future.
Most cottages are not located along public highways. The access road is not always a public road but may involve a private right-of-way. A buyers needs to investigate who is responsible for the upkeep of the road and whether it is open year round.
Some cottages are located on islands, which means you will require water transport as well as parking on the mainland.
Water and sewer
Seldom are cottage properties served by municipal sewer and water systems. Domestic water usually comes from wells or lakes and rivers, or both. A septic system is often used for waste disposal. These are government regulated and cottagers must comply with the requirements.
Water from the well may or may not be safe for drinking; cottagers may have to provide their own bottled drinking water.
Finding a REALTOR®
The REALTOR® you select should be someone who knows the area you are searching and who understands what you are looking for. He or she should be able to provide you with sound, effective advice and have a record of successful recreational real estate transactions.
Begin by asking colleagues, friends and relatives who have cottages in the area in which you are interested to get names of REALTORS® they can recommend. Drive through the area and drop in on real estate offices; ask how many vacation properties they have sold in the last six months and what the sale prices were.
Buying a recreation property is a major business transaction. Maintaining it is a major responsibility. Take your time, drive around different areas - rent a number of cottages in areas where you think you would enjoy owning one. A vacation getaway can bring a great deal of joy to you and your family but it's not an investment you should rush into.
I am the GUY that will make a difference!
I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.
Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty