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So You Want to Buy a Vacation Property…
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about sun and sand. Fall is actually a great time to start thinking about next year’s vacation and where you’re going to stay. Cottages are a big part of the Canadian vacation experience, and buying one might be a great investment if you go about it the right way.
Smart investment or luxury item?
The answer? It’s a bit of both. An inherited cottage or one you bought decades ago during the golden age of affordable lakefront properties could make you a pretty penny today. If you’re in the market to buy though, you have some factors to take into consideration that will drastically affect the price. Buying a property that is accessible, usable and desirable year-round is a much better investment than a property that you can only get to in the summer, isn’t insulated and doesn’t have any merit in the winter. Take advantage of winter sports enthusiasts, as their options for winter rentals are usually pretty limited.
Being less than a 2-hour drive from a city is also going to command a higher price tag, but don’t be afraid to go a little off the beaten track or settle on a smaller lake. There are still deals to be had if you look a little further out and are willing to put in some work. There’s always going to be more work involved with maintaining a cottage, so keep that in mind when setting a budget. Don’t put yourself into a “cottage-poor” situation where you can afford the cottage, but not all the other fun accessories that go along with it, like building a dock for a boat.
Want all the perks of a cottage without all the costs? Fractional ownership might be the answer. Of course, the catch is that you only “own” the cottage for half the year. Fractional ownership may not be for everyone – but it is certainly something to consider if it suits your needs and wallet. Buying a property with friends or family may be a way to put cottage ownership within reach. While it sounds like a great way to pool resources and leverage your buying power, have a lawyer draw up an agreement that clearly states who is allowed to use the cottage when and other expectations such as upkeep, mortgage payments and property taxes and how to manage other unforeseen expenses. Also make sure you come to an agreement about the rules on renting out the property during the weeks you “own” the property, but aren’t using it. The best way to maximize a cottage purchase is to maximize the income potential.
Owning a cottage is an amazing idea but before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework. Cottages, unfortunately, are not exempt from taxes, and just like at home, require regular maintenance, cleaning and grass cutting. And while it’s hard to put a price on those summertime memories by the lake, making a smart investment should be your number one goal.