More prospective buyers are turning to Canada’s cottages, camps and cabins as an antidote to inflationary urban housing prices and a looming second summer of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, condos are entrenched as the most affordable option in what the newly released RE/MAX 2021 Recreational Property Report defines as a seller’s market almost uniformly across 33 prominent vacation areas nationwide.
“There’s intense competition among buyers in Canada’s recreational property markets and inventory is stretched thin,” says Christopher Alexander, chief strategy officer and executive vice president, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic-Canada.
An accompanying survey of property-seekers’ preferences and motives, conducted for RE/MAX, finds that 54 per cent of respondents who are planning to buy a vacation property will be doing so for the first time. More than 20 per cent of prospective buyers report they have been shut out of pricier housing markets in an urban centre, and 22 per cent say low interest rates have increased their ability to buy.
Meanwhile, RE/MAX sales representatives report double-digit growth in average sale values since 2019 for almost every property type in the vast majority of recreational property markets, along with more than a handful of average increases exceeding 100 per cent. In Ontario, three rare examples of declining average sale prices are found exclusively in condominium properties, while stand-alone formats in the same markets — Haliburton County, Niagara Region and Barrie-Innisfil — recorded significant gains.
Indeed, Barrie-Innisfil and Niagara Region rank as Canada’s second and third priciest markets for waterfront properties, albeit trailing a chart-topping average sale price of more than $2.4 million thus far in 2021 in British Columbia’s Central Okanagan. And B.C.’s slopes arise as an even more lucrative attraction. Whistler chalets command an average sales price of nearly $3.7 million, taking title as Canada’s most expensive recreational property.
Looking to more affordable product, Charlottetown, Manitoba’s Interlake Region and Thunder Bay posted the lowest average sale values for waterfront properties last year — all at less than $426,000. No condo prices are cited for Charlottetown or Thunder Bay, but the popular Manitoba vacation area is one of the rare Canadian markets where average condo prices have slipped since 2019, dropping nearly $20,000 to an average sale value of about $111,000 thus far in 2021.
RE/MAX analysts also underscore less disheartening data for the 44 per cent of prospective buyers who hope to acquire a property for $200,000 to $500,000 during the next 12 months. At least one type of vacation property in that price range is currently available in more than half of the markets.
“There are still many recreational markets across Canada that are deemed affordable, despite the growing demand and rising prices,” Alexander maintains.
In Ontario, these include Haliburton, Kenora, Rideau Lake, the Thousand Islands, Windsor Essex and Sudbury/Manitoulin/French River, along with condo properties in Collingwood, Parry Sound and Barrie-Innisfil. Looking east and west, lower priced recreational properties can also be found in the St. Andrews and Halifax regions of Nova Scotia and Sylvan Lake, Alberta, along with condo options in Central and North Okanagan.