The New Boom is in Cottages

Canada is experiencing a huge housing boom -- in cottages! Waterfront recreational properties are the new big sellers, thanks to the money of retirees trading in expensive homes and cash-rich investors from the resource sector.

The over-50 crowd are driving the increased sales in recreational properties right across Canada. The priciest markets are in the west -- Alberta and British Columbia. You are looking at $800,000 Cdn (about $650,000 US) for a three-bedroom waterfront or slope-side single dwelling in Whistler, Salt Spring Island, Shuswap Lake, Kelowna, Penticton, Sylvan Lake and Vernon. Such locations allow you to keep the ocean or mountains nearby and still have the amenities that most seniors look for, including beautiful views.

Can't afford the Canadian west? If you are heading east, don't expect a bargain in Ontario. While Ontario has the Great Lakes as well as an abundance of smaller lakes in the more northern parts of the province, demand still outstrips supply. The Bala-Port Carling area in the midst of the Muskoka area (and many of Ontario's prettiest lakes) will cost you about $500,000 Cdn for a three-bedroom waterfront property. However, prices can run much higher: one of the most expensive vacation properties in the country is a cottage on its own 42-acre island in Lake Rosseau, listed at $12-million.

You might find a bargain if you go all the way to the Canadian east coast. In some areas, you can still find oceanfront homes for about $200,000 Cdn. However, you are on the cold North Atlantic and the winters in the Canadian east coast are particularly snowy and bitter, so you might not want to live there year round.

Can't find the right cottage, but have found a perfect property? Older cottages or homes in prime locations are targets to be purchased and torn down. The cost of building on the right parcel of land is considered cheaper and easier than finding the right combination of location and home. Once the previous home is torn down, the buyers then replace it with the ideal retirement abode.

As the baby boomer generation retires in greater and greater numbers, we can expect such "cottage booms" to take place in all the prime vacation locations. We've already seen a lot of this in the States. Watch for even more pressure on prices for retirement homes in Arizona, southern California, Florida and other typical retirement enclaves.

Michael

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