Looking for a sweet property deal in cottage country? Apparently it's a buyer's market of late, and now may be the time to take the plunge and land the summer getaway spot you've always dreamed of.
According to the latest tally by RE/MAX, Canadian recreational property markets have been reinvigorated, with softer values, increased selection and a rebound in consumer confidence all contributing to an upswing in sales in 2012.
The RE/MAX Recreational Property Report, highlighting trends and developments in 33 markets nationally and finds sales were ahead of last year's mark in 70 per cent of the communities, while six per cent were in line with a year ago. Starting prices were down in 49 per cent of the markets, while 33 per cent were unchanged.
The remaining saw an increase.
"We've seen a huge shift in this market in that buyers are able to catch their breath and most markets (across Canada) have an abundance of recreational properties for sale," says Christine Martysiewicz, director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "For the most part, buyers are in the driver's seat.
"We've seen a changing of the guard: it wasn't so long ago that Baby Boomers were driving this segment of the market. Now it's a lot of younger families looking for entry-level products."
Ontario cottage market booming
Martysiewicz says Ontario leads the charge in terms of a 'boom' in cottage sales while Atlantic Canada is seeing the least amount of action.
"Sales are definitely up in a variety of markets … the biggest boom regardless of cost is in Ontario. But something else about these younger families is the fact that they're not throwing caution to the wind. They're looking at affordability and some will compromise to not be on the water and look at a back lot versus a lakefront property," she continues.
"Sales are down a little bit in a couple of Atlantic Canada markets. In Atlantic Canada, it wasn't long ago a lot of Americans were buying up the waterfront properties. We haven't seen that in a while now for obvious reasons."
That said, Martysiewicz adds as the U.S. economy improves, so too will recreational property sales in Atlantic Canada once more.
"When consumer confidence improves south of the border, we'll start to see the Americans investing back in Atlantic Canada," she says. "It's one of the most affordable regions for affordable property in Canada."
Luxury properties hot
Throughout Canada, activity is exceptionally healthy for recreational properties under the $400,000 threshold, while demand for luxury product over $1 million has also seen renewed interest in several markets, particularly as values have moved more in line with current conditions.
The mild winter weather also brought purchasers out earlier in the year in many parts of the country. However, the ceiling for this reinvigorated market demand across the country is at approximately $400,000.
Where the value markets are
"We're truly blessed in this country. We have such an abundance of recreational property prices from coast to coast," she says. "Depending on where you're sitting … there are still affordable prices out there and it's not uncommon to find a recreational property between $100,000 and $200,000."
Starter waterfront product (three-bedroom, winterized), priced under $350,000, is now offered in 53.5 per cent of all recreational markets, while 58 per cent of recreational centres offer entry-level properties under $400,000 -- an improvement over 2011.
Value markets were identified as the Laurentians and Eastern Townships in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, more than half of Ontario -- inclusive of the coveted Muskokas -- as well as Lake Winnipeg, Canmore, Harrison Lake and Comox Valley/Mt. Washington in Western Canada.
"We're definitely seeing that (Canadian) consumer confidence is back," she adds. "There's a bit of a pent-up demand. That too has been a factor.