Working With A Registered Real Estate Broker Provides Some Protection

The decision to use a brokerage — or not — is entirely yours to make.

But the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) strongly recommends working with a registered salesperson, or broker, when you buy or sell a property for the simple reason that navigating your way through a real estate transaction can get complicated, especially if you’re inexperienced. Unlike some other do-it-yourself projects, buying a home is the largest single purchase most people will ever make, it involves a binding legal contract, and it’s a decision you may have to live with for a long time.

In Ontario, salespeople, brokers and brokerages must register with RECO if they wish to trade in real estate, and that registration provides consumers with three pillars of protection:

Knowledge: Real salespeople and brokers must complete courses to qualify for registration before they can practise their trade, and RECO requires them to complete additional continuing education courses every two years to keep their knowledge up to date.

Salespeople know their territories. If you’re selling, they can provide you with a comparative market analysis so you can set a listing price that works for you yet is realistic and attractive to buyers, and help you market your home by hosting open houses, arranging to have it professionally staged for visitors, and employing other creative promotional activities.

And if you’re buying, your salesperson can help you find properties that meet your needs in your area and answer any questions you might have about the neighbourhood, arrange showings, recommend other professionals such as appraisers or home inspectors, and possibly negotiate on your behalf.

Professional Standards: Real estate salespeople and brokers are required to comply with the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA), and its Code of Ethics, both of which are enforced by RECO. We expect members of the industry to treat anyone involved in a transaction with fairness, honesty and integrity, and to protect consumers. In the rare instance when something goes wrong and it can’t be resolved with the brokerage, a consumer can file a complaint with RECO against a salesperson and we will investigate.

Insurance: RECO established and administers an insurance program that includes consumer deposit protection. Consumers can rest assured their hard-earned deposits will be protected against loss, insolvency or misappropriation.

Salespeople and brokers may vary considerably in terms of their knowledge, experience, fee structures, and services as well as the types and locations of properties they trade. We encourage consumers to interview at least three candidates before they sign on as a client with a real estate brokerage, and to look up salespeople on the RECO website using the search tool located on every page.

Muskoka Market Update

The Muskoka real estate market fell short in the third quarter in a year over year comparison. Despite the drop, the numbers actually marked an improvement from the first two quarters of the year – which saw an aggregated downturn of over 35%.
Downward pressure was applied across many fronts; low inventory, a cooling GTA market, consumer edginess regarding changing U.S. relations, and a general cooling following the frenzied activity in 2016 and 2017.
Third quarter residential sales hit 216, a drop of 11% from 2017 and recreational sales fell by 19% with sales of 240 units from 295 in the third quarter of 2017.
Prices
Average and median prices continued to climb, although the rate of appreciation slowed slightly. The average price for a residential home in Muskoka in the first nine months of the year increased by 8% to $359,728 and median price rose by 9% to $346,000 in the first none months of the year.
Recreational property prices saw average prices increase by 4.14% to $1,060,497 and median prices surge by 15.4% to $750,000. This gap in average and median growth was driven by two factors; price increases across most price points which drives the median value; and a stall at the top end (3M+) of the market which softened average price.
Inventory
Available properties still remained exceptionally low. At the end of September only 184 residential listings and 279 recreational listings were available for sale. This continues the trend we’ve seen for the last couple years and remains, in my opinion, the single largest factor driving prices and restraining sales.

Scarcity Boosting Ontario Cottage Prices

(From The Globe and Mail)

People from the Toronto area who are looking to buy a lakeside retreat north of the city are finding relatively few sellers in cottage country this year.

The scarcity is in turn pushing up cottage prices on some of the most sought-after lakes.

“It’s kind of the classic squeeze that the supply is going down but the demand is static or going up,” says real estate agent Paul Crammond of Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.

The trend which spreads from Orillia up to Muskoka, Lake of Bays, Parry Sound and Haliburton, mirrors the Toronto market, where the number of listings has also shrunk from this time last year and the increased competition is boosting prices in key neighbourhoods.

Across that swath of cottage country, there were 117 sales of waterfront properties in April, compared with 238 a year earlier, Mr. Crammond says .

That marks a 51-per-cent drop. At the same time, the median price jumped 39 per cent to $600,000 in April from $432,000 in April, 2017.

Mr. Crammond adds that not every property saw such a dramatic surge in price: the mix of cottages sold tilted towards the high-end segment this year. “Prices did go up but there more expensive properties sold in April this year than April last year.”.

On the waterfront in Muskoka and Lake of Bays, 43 properties changed hands in April to mark a 43-per-cent drop from April of 2017.

The median price for those areas spiked 30 per cent to $770,000 from $590,000.

Mr. Crammond says listings have been shrinking for the past four years. The Ontario economy is strong so people are less likely to need to sell because of financial hardship, he points out. Also, more neighbours are buying out neighbours without the cottage ever coming to market. And a large inter-generational transfer of wealth from older parents to their baby boomer kids has taken place.

Real estate firm Royal LePage is forecasting that prices for recreational properties in Ontario will rise 10.4 per cent in 2018 to an average of $535,885. Royal LePage, which surveyed agents across the country, looked at all types of vacation homes – with mountaintop chalets and forest cabins mixed in with waterfront cottages.

Real estate markets in the city and the country have been delayed by a long, cool, damp, spring, agents say.

Anita Latner of Anita Latner Realty Inc. says everything in cottage country is behind by about six weeks, including the painting, repairing docks and putting boats into the water. “The weather took its toll on everything. I was chopping ice here in April – thick ice.”

Ms. Latner believes that stock market gyrations caused by geopolitical tensions also add to the air of anxiety.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Quebec and his outbursts against the North American free-trade agreement will not dissuade serious cottage buyers, in her opinion, but the stock market volatility may slow down some sales.

“They’ll find a way – it might just take a little longer,” Ms. Latner says of potential buyers who might be planning to sell stock in order to invest in a cottage.

She says sunny skies and warm temperatures are a bigger factor than politics and financial markets. “The weather trumps Trump at the end of the day.”

Mr. Crammond says people in the city don’t even think of venturing north when it’s cold and wet. “We need good weather for people to get revved up about cottaging. April was a disaster and parts of May we’re not much better.”

Mr. Crammond, who is selling a place of his own on Lake Rosseau this year as he moves to another cottage around the bay, says more listings have appeared with the warmer weather in the past 10 days or so.

Some real estate agents in Muskoka are setting offer dates when they think they might be able to entice multiple bids, he says. The practice is most common on the “Big Three” lakes of Joseph, Rosseau and Muskoka. “Before this shortage of property, we never did that.”

In areas outside of the Big Three, multiple offers are not common but a buyer might find less room to negotiate down from the asking price.

In another echo of the city market, there’s a divergence of trends. The most coveted properties sell quickly and even draw rival bids while others languish.

Mr. Crammond thinks that buyers have been slow off the mark because of the uncertainty surrounding the Ontario election. He has a sense that some potential buyers – especially at the upper end – we’re hesitating to make any big financial bets.

“People have been looking at properties but maybe haven’t been acting on them as much as they normally would.”

Now that a new provincial government has been elected, buyers may be willing to move.

He explains that cottage buyers are more sensitive to price hikes than city house hunters. While the Toronto market saw double-digit house price increases for several years leading up to 2017, cottage prices since 2009 have been creeping up at, or slightly above, the level of inflation.

“There’s a limit to what people can afford and will do. A cottage is a discretionary purchase,” he says.

“You can’t take buyers for granted that they’re going to pay any amount for your property.”

Prices in some segments have risen 25 per cent over the past four years. But some sellers try to aim for 15 to 20 per cent about that level when they list a property.

“Guaranteed it will sit there,” Mr. Crammond says. Buyers are very educated about market values. “They will knowingly overpay for a place in the city because they need a place to live. That’s not going to happen here.”

February Sales Numbers

Sales numbers throughout Muskoka were down in February. This was by no means an indicator that the market is slowing. It is a direct result of a lack of inventory. Sales would be up if there was more out there to buy!
February average selling price across Muskoka for residential non-waterfront homes was $358,245.
Bracebridge – $411,643
Gravenhurst – $250,167
Huntsville – $382,439
Lake of Bays – $265,000
Muskoka Lakes – $293,375
February average selling price for waterfront properties across Muskoka was $850,056.
Bracebridge – $420,000
Gravenhurst – $335,000
Huntsville – $764,281
Lake of Bays – $429,000
Muskoka Lakes – $1,258,333

What to do about the new mortgage rules

Starting Jan.1, home buyers faced a new challenge in addition to rising prices and a restricted supply of available homes — a mortgage stress test designed to cool the overheated housing markets.

The test, introduced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI), requires the qualifying rate for an uninsured mortgage to be the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate (currently sitting at 4.99 per cent) or the rate homebuyers negotiate with the bank plus two percentage points.

That means even a buyer who negotiates a mortgage at 3 per cent will have to show they can cope with payments rising to 5 per cent.

A report by Mortgage Professionals Canada estimates the new rules mean buyers will be able to afford to borrow 20 per cent less than under the previous rules.

The Star asked financial experts for advice on how best to handle the new regime.

Clear those debts

One of the best ways to avoid the stress test derailing your home-buying plans is to first pay off any other debts you might have, said Paul Taylor, the CEO and president of Mortgage Professionals Canada.

“Any debt you are carrying will affect the mortgage you can qualify for, so you really should be doing the best to eliminate any credit card or outstanding loan debt before going to try to arrange a mortgage,” said Taylor.

 Check the fine printSome experts had urged clients who were going to hunt for a new home early in 2018 to lock down a pre-approval for a mortgage before Jan.1. Some lenders offered an exemption to the new stress test if you bought a home within 120 days of being pre-approved.

If you were pre-approved at that time with the 120-day window, you should talk to your mortgage broker to get a clear understanding of the deadline and what it will take to meet it.

According to Integrated Mortgage Planners president Dave Larock, “repeat or move-up” buyers, looking to take on bigger or pricier homes than what they currently own, will be hardest hit by the new rules. Many first-time buyers have already been putting down less than 20 per cent, forcing them to undergo another stress test that has been in place for the last year.

Make adjustments

But James Laird, the co-founder of financial comparison platform Ratehub, said he thinks all levels of buyers will have to make some adjustments to their plans.

If you can’t delay buying in order to build up a bigger downpayment, you may have to just accept that you can afford “a little bit less house” than previously. In some cases, you might even need to resort to the Bank of Mom and Dad for help qualifying for the same mortgage that you could have secured on your own earlier.

You might be further ahead saving longer to make a larger downpayment later, perhaps in time for a long-rumoured drop in house prices, Laird said.

Timing is key

Laird suggests doing your research and consulting with a mortgage broker, because there are some exceptions and a few groups of people using traditional lenders who will also not be subject to the new regulations.

For example, if you signed a contract to buy a pre-construction condo before Jan. 1 that you have yet to move into, you’ll still fall under the old rules.

And, says Larock, “If you bought prior to Jan. 1, even if you close after Jan. 1, you will be grandfathered (into the old mortgage policy), but you need a firm offer to purchase prior to Jan. 1.”

You’ll also be able to sidestep the test, says Taylor, if you nab a mortgage from an alternative lender, like a credit union that doesn’t have to apply the test because it falls outside the regulations covering banks and other traditional lenders.

But not everyone will be able to get off the hook.

If you scrambled to buy a home before the new regulations kicked in or even long before that, when your mortgage comes up for renewal, if you chose to switch lenders, you will have to qualify under the new policy, warns Taylor.

“I suspect that means a number of people’s mortgage renewals will probably be issued at slightly higher rates than they previously would have been because the bank is going to know you won’t have the ability to take your mortgage anywhere else,” he says. “That’s not going to be good news for everyone.”

Toronto packing up and moving to Muskoka

We expect the introduction of tighter mortgage rules in effect in January 2018 to cool the housing market slightly, more urban buyers will look to Muskoka for a four-season cottage to live in year-round as they are priced out of GTA.

There is already a sizable market segment living here which works remotely, and with companies more open to flexible working solutions, it will continue to pave the way to a steadier migration from Toronto to Muskoka.

Buyers today are becoming savvier and understand the value of potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing here and not being hit with a double land transfer tax in Toronto. Why not? Especially when our region is viewed as a great investment because of the associated lifestyle. Dollar for dollar the value of people’s hard-earned money simply goes further here, the dream of detached home ownership is more attainable. Our members are very excited about The Muskoka Airport feasibility proposal, adding daily flights to and from Toronto would open a potential new residential market.

In 2018, many homeowners that once favoured super-low-rate variable mortgages, will likely return to the five-year closed mortgage in response to the rising interest rates of 1 per cent.

We are seeing more winter activity and earlier spring buying to snap up cottages for the first long weekend in May. Our market is expected to continue to be strong with brisk sales early in the season, adjusting to steady sales throughout the summer and fall. Multiple offers can be expected on properties that are in good condition and properly priced.

Buyers’ want lists are becoming more nuanced, with less expectation of the typical western exposure with gentle slope to water, and large frontage.

Parry Sound Muskoka Haliburton Orillia — The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® is a not-for-profit professional association representing over 770 local REALTOR® members. Our members serve both residential and commercial real estate in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country. The region, known worldwide for its lakes and forests, is home to both larger cities and smaller vibrant communities. It’s home to a thriving tourism industry and a growing telecommuter base for the Greater Toronto Area.

“Many clients are getting referrals from their favourite realtor in the city to a Muskoka realtor, and are understanding the value of using a local realtor who know cottage country firsthand,” said Mike Stahls president of The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®.

Cottage country shows early immunity to GTA real estate cooling

Sales data from Royal LePage show Ontario recreational-property prices have climbed to an average of $413,000 in May this year, while prices for lakefront properties in Muskoka grew 20 per cent year over year to $1.5-million from $1.25-million in May, 2016. (Because it has implemented a new methodology for compiling data, Royal LePage does not have a comparable average provincial price for recreational properties in 2016.)

Kevin Somers, chief operating officer of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., said the vacation-property market around Toronto is “very different” from the market for homes in the city, and he predicts a strong summer of sales in vacation centres even as the Toronto region experiences a slowdown.

“Based on the underlying supply and demand factors, coupled with very lucrative financing, I think we’re going to see a very strong sustained summer market,” he said.

Most cottage-country buyers are typically wealthier and are buying second homes using financing that comes from the strong equity position in their principal homes, so are not spooked by the province’s recent measures to cool the Toronto market, Mr. Somers said.

“They are less impacted, frankly, by the pause or the reprieve that is going on in the GTA market proper right now,” he said.

While most buyers are still seeking vacation homes, he said there is also a growing number of people approaching retirement who are opting to sell valuable city homes and move permanently to a relatively less-expensive vacation market.

Some vacation markets in Muskoka and around the Collingwood area have even started seeing bidding wars, which have been a rare sight in communities hours from the GTA.

“Historically, the process to purchase recreational properties tends to be a more relaxed and extended pace, so it’s a bit of a new anomaly in cottage country,” Mr. Somers said.

Price gains have varied within hot regions, depending on the type and location of the properties.

In the Collingwood region north of Toronto on Georgian Bay, for example, prices for lakefront homes rose 5 per cent in May compared with a year earlier to an average of $801,500, Royal LePage reported. But prices for resort and condominium units remained red-hot over the same period, climbing by 27 per cent to an average of $342,200 as buyers continue to seek more affordable, year-round units that can be used during ski season.

In the Haliburton Highlands area northeast of Toronto, lakefront-home prices climbed 13 per cent in May compared with a year earlier to an average of $425,000, while riverside-home prices were up 20 per cent to an average of $300,000 and island properties climbed 17 per cent to $350,000.

Non-waterfront woodland cabins remain the most affordable option in most centres, averaging $200,000 in Haliburton and $300,000 in the Muskoka region.

Prices for riverside properties in the Muskoka area were also well below prices for lakefront properties, averaging $800,000, while island-based properties averaged $650,000, up 18 per cent over 2016.

Cottages are the new ownership dream for young people

Forget buying a house in Toronto: Cottages are the new ownership dream for young people, says report

Two-thirds of Canadian millennials would consider buying a recreational property like a cottage or cabin

By Alexandra Sienkiewicz, CBC News Posted: Jul 01, 2017 6:00 AM ET

With the high cost of real estate in Toronto pricing many first-time homebuyers out of the market, millennials are starting to look outside the city — way outside.

They’re not looking with the intention of buying a home, but rather buying a recreational property like a cottage, cabin or ski chalet.

A report released this week by RE/MAX and Leger said almost two-thirds of Canadian millennials would consider buying a recreational property in the next 10 years.

Adrienne Atkins, 29, falls into this group, having just recently bought a property in Grand Bend.

“It’s really unaffordable in the city, I wanted a bit more bang for my buck,” Atkins said. The Yonge and Eglinton resident doesn’t yet know if she’ll make Grand Bend her forever home, but said she would consider moving if she could find flexible work.

Residential sales ‘unprecedented’

Suzanne Martineau has also seen an increase in millennial interest in the Muskoka region, where she leads a team of agents with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty. She describes the growth in residential sales as unprecedented, and said it’s “definitely being driven by the city.”

“I hear often, the city is too congested, it’s getting too busy, it’s unaffordable, it’s not an enjoyable lifestyle.”– Suzanne Martineau, RE/MAX Hallmark Realty

“I hear often, the city is too congested, it’s getting too busy, it’s unaffordable, it’s not an enjoyable lifestyle… so [people] are rethinking their choices in life,” she said. “With technology, I think it’s allowing people to be employed further from core centres in this country.”

Martineau added that millennials she’s met who have moved to the Muskoka region “know what they want” and that they’re making “very active choices to be in a more natural environment.”

“Some of them raise chickens, some of them live on three or four acres … some of them want to be off-grid,” she explained.

Off-grid trend is growing

The off-grid trend is one Martineau said has grown in the last year, noting that in the past off-grid properties were difficult to sell — whereas now they’re purposely being sought out.

Laurie McVey, 29, is a Toronto office manager and executive assistant who started her search for a recreational property in the spring.

Despite making “fairly good money,” the reality of buying a home in Toronto “will just never happen,” she said.

“Even if I can get a home in Toronto, it’s only going to be a shoebox, and I don’t want a shoebox,” she said, adding that she has two dogs and that condo life is not conducive to pets.

After years of frustration seeing real estate prices rise at rates that didn’t match the increase in her salary, she contacted a real estate agent in Muskoka. Unlike her friends, who she said have moved out of the city to own a property, she plans to buy a recreational property, which she could potentially rent out when she’s not using it.

Listings in cottage country down

The increasing popularity of recreational properties is well-reflected in real estate listings and prices. In Muskoka, the number of listings is down 41 per cent since 2016, with sales up 21 per cent in the first quarter. Martineau speculates that residential sales will be even “more extreme” for the second quarter — which tends to be the region’s busy season.

Prices have also jumped, with many properties being sold at asking or above, and bidding wars becoming more common, which Martineau called “very unusual.”

She credits some of that to city buyers.

“They’re coming from a very aggressive environment and bringing those behaviours with them … which isn’t always necessary up here,” she said. “It’s been interesting to watch how buyers are coming up from the city and placing offers on properties — they’re coming in strong, hard and firm, even without competitive bids.”

This behaviour is also reflected in other popular cottage-country areas, to the east of Muskoka.

Take for example the region of Haliburton, which has seen a 42 per cent increase in year-over-year prices for non-waterfront properties. That being said, even with the price hike, the average price of a property in Haliburton is $66,038 according to RE/MAX — a steal for anyone used to Toronto prices.

Waterfront properties have also seen a jump, with prices in regions like Prince Edward County, Wasaga Beach and the Bruce Peninsula seeing growth of up to 38 per cent.

Get a local real estate agent

Martineau does have one piece of advice for people from the city looking for recreational properties: get a local agent. The regions are so wide and have certain quirks, so agents who do most of their business in the city may not be aware of certain specifics — which could mean a buyer pays more than the property is worth.

There are some things Atkins said she would miss about the city, including the conveniences and having everything within a five-minute walk. But, she said: “I’ve lived here my whole life so I’m good to move somewhere quieter.”

McVey echoed Atkins’s feelings, saying: “Getting away into a small town is a huge relief from being in the city,” adding that she won’t miss much about Toronto.

Cottage Country Feels The Heat

Cottage country feels the heat from
Toronto’s real estate fire

Even before the snows melted, equity-rich boomers were chasing scarce resort-area getaways.

The May long weekend is the traditional kickoff to cottage season. But long before the snow melted this spring, equity-rich baby boomers from the city had been turning up the heat on resort-area real estate.

Agents in Muskoka and Haliburton say most of the action is down to a new breed of older buyer: 50-somethings, cashing out and driving north to retire or telecommute. Many maintain a condo in the GTA or they go south in the winter.

Toronto’s runaway real estate market, which has only recently started to cool, is still radiating heat into cottage country, according to Mike Taylor, an agent with Port Carling Chestnut Park and president of the Lakelands Association of Realtors, which represents 680 realtors in Muskoka, Haliburton and Orillia.

Its latest statistics show waterfront property sales up 5.1 per cent this year to date, compared with 2016. The value of that property, however, surged 51.4 per cent year over year in April, to $118.1 million. The median price of $485,000 was up 30.4 per cent from last April.

“We haven’t seen a slowdown like the Toronto market has over the last month as yet, but it may be filtering our way. As the end of May comes and we are getting more listings put on the market for waterfront, it will be interesting to see how that all plays out,” Taylor said.

But many cottages never hit the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that provides real estate association data. A lot of agents find a buyer and seller before the property even goes on the market, said Bob Clarke, a Port Carling-based broker.

He said the inventory of listings is at historic lows — down about 30 per cent from 2015 levels. Prices, however, are up about 26 per cent on the small lakes and about 41 per cent on the big three lakes: Muskoka, Joseph and Rosseau.

Typically, Muskoka doesn’t see a lot of bidding wars and vacation homes can sometimes take up to two years to sell. But Clarke said competitive offers have been popping up since the fall, with many properties selling in a day, and it isn’t even high season.

“We’re putting places out there and getting 30 showings in a day and a half,” said Clarke, who is president of Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka–Clarke Muskoka Realty.

The trouble is, he said, this is supposed to be the slow season. Usually only 12 per cent of the company’s transactions occur in the first four months of the year.

In Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, entry-level homes in the $229,000 to $279,000 bracket are selling for $30,000 or $40,000 over asking, he said.

“Torontonians have hit the Lotto Max jackpot and they come up here and say, ‘Who cares? What’s $299,000 instead of $279,000?’” Clarke said.

Ninety minutes east, Troy Austen, with Team Haliburton Highlands Re/Max, says one of his clients put it best.

He said he felt like he’d won the lottery, Austen said. “I just sold my house for $1 million. I can make the same money with what I do in Haliburton and I bought a 50-acre farm — no mortgage — and money in the bank.”

Austen usually spends his winters travelling. He’s been all over the world because once the snow flies, the cottage market typically shuts down.

Not this year.

This year it never stopped. Real estate left over after the summer continued to sell and buyers were on the prowl even after the lakes froze.

“It’s my 22nd year (in the business) and I’ve never seen it this busy in the winter,” he said.

It’s not just housing trends and demographics. Austen said the Internet has finally put Haliburton on the map for its relative affordability and proximity to the city.

“The taxes are way less, the prices are way less and, coming out of the GTA, we’re anywhere from two hours to two hours and 45 minutes from downtown,” he said.

Although less expensive cottages always sell faster, “every price range right now is hot and active up to $1.5 million in Haliburton County,” Austen said.

Buyers, he said, are looking for a dream home.

“Everybody’s looking for a 400-foot frontage lot or teardown,” Austen said. “All of the contractors are booked a year and two years out. It’s good for the economy.”

The same quest is taking a toll on the traditional fabric of Muskoka, says Hugh Nichols, a Re/Max North Country agent in Gravenhurst. Cottaging has become more sophisticated, he says.

“I don’t think it’s so much an escape where you went up to the cabin and your mom didn’t yell at you when you left your wet bathing suit on the floor. Now they’ve got them finished with granite countertops and drywall, and carpeting or hardwood floors throughout. Your mom would die if you left your bathing suit on the floor now,” he said.

“The demand is for three-season (cottages) where 10 years ago people were happy with a seasonal cottage. We have investors and contractors who are buying them to improve them or rebuild to flip, or we’ve got investors who are buying to rent,” said Nichols, who admits entry-level cottages for young families are limited.

“It is possible, but that’s not our major market. I’d like to see that again. I don’t see a lot of 40-and-unders buying,” he said.

Last week, Nichols said, there were only seven waterfront properties listed under $500,000. The lowest was a cabin for $179,000 on a narrow bend of river. It might suit a kayaker but you couldn’t water-ski there.

On the big three lakes, there were 51 properties listed with an average price of $3 million.

“Privacy is still the key factor when it comes to price. Up here, the definition of privacy is when you can stand on your front deck naked and nobody can see you. You need 200 feet of waterfront to do that … the younger people know they’ll have to pay to get a smaller waterfront where you can see the neighbour,” he said.

A boathouse requires similar water frontage.

There’s not much call for the rustic cottages of a generation or two back, says Clarke, who is also a builder.

“Places I’m building now have 20-seat theatres; we have walls of glass that open to the outside; gas and wood fire pits; butler’s pantries. And those are the ones that are $10 million-plus and they’re often the least used,” he said.

Custom builds are so popular, Clarke said. “We are very quickly reaching the point where we do not have vacant lots on Rosseau, Muskoka and Joseph. They’re basically (as scarce as) hen’s teeth.”

National Real Estate Report First Quarter 2017

What’s the current state of the Canadian housing market? Twice a year, we produce Brian Buffini’s Real Estate Report, a guide that provides important facts and information about the national real estate market to help you understand what’s going on in the market and help you decide whether now is a good time to buy or sell.

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