Recreational Properties

President's Pen: Recreational Properties

A weekly President's Pen article appears in some editions of the EMC community newspapers, under the byline of the current Board President. Here is the latest article:

Owning a cottage or other recreational property is something many of us dream about. In fact, a recent report by a major real estate company in Canada showed that demand for recreational properties (such as cottages and ski chalets) has nearly doubled in the past year among Generation X buyers. One reason given for the increased demand was that generation's desire for time spent with family and away from the demands of work. Owning a recreational property can be a fantastic way to get in some rest and relaxation - but it's important to remember that buying, owning and maintaining that property comes with its own unique challenges. Working with a real estate professional who has experience with recreational homes and land is the best way to ensure smooth sailing (or skiing!).

If you're hoping to purchase a waterfront property, one of the biggest things to worry about is all that water ending up inside the house, rather than beside it. An experienced home inspector familiar with waterfront properties can help assess the property's risk of flooding and let you know how to mitigate your risk.

Also, make sure you investigate the type of access to the water you will have based on your land title. A portion of the waterfront may be part of your title, or you may simply have access to it as part of your property rights. Is the beach private or public? Knowing ahead of time can save you the shock of finding a horde of sunbathers in front of your cottage one day in June!

Making physical changes to a waterfront property can require jumping through a few extra hoops. You may need permission from local conservation authorities or Parks Canada before developing a waterfront property. These bodies regulate construction in environmentally sensitive areas, to protect wetlands, fish and animal habitats, and natural shorelines. Their job is to ensure that the natural beauty and environment remain intact for the future enjoyment of all. There can be steep fines associated with altering waterfront property without the proper approvals.

If you're more of a winter sports type, a chalet or condominium close to ski hills or trails might be your ideal. Ski-resort condominiums have obvious advantages - close to the hill, low-maintenance, and part of an established community full of like-minded people. If you're more of a wilderness type, with snowshoes and cross-country trails in mind, a stand-alone chalet property might be your dream. Some things to keep in mind: is the land around the property open to recreational use (skiing, snowmobiling, etc) or is it protected for conservation? Are there adequate services nearby for your family's needs? Are you willing to do outdoor maintenance during the warmer months?

Buying a recreational property can provide tremendous enjoyment for you and your family for years to come, but it's a big step and one that can be even more confusing than buying your first home! Ease your mind - talk to a real estate professional who regularly works with recreational property, and let them help you make your summer or winter dreams come true.

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