You yearn to get out of the city traffic and noise. You want to get back to the land. Why not purchase a weekend getaway for your family? Having a home in the country can be a most rewarding and stress reducing decision for you and your family! Little or no traffic! Birds singing! The wind in the trees! The sounds of a creek outside your cabin window?
First, you must decide what you really want in a recreation property. Do you want a summer place or a year round place? Do you want to be away from it all or are you okay with sharing your space with other like minded souls who need an escape, like you? Are you looking for an investment property?
Recreation properties range from a lake lot to an acreage parcel, or even a small farm in the country. These are considerations you should take into account before you purchase that second property:
1. Distance from your home base - Be realistic - if you purchase a recreation property 8 hours away, you may never find the time to enjoy it. Driving distance can hamper your enjoyment.
2. Neighbors - Who or what lives next door? Are there dogs barking constantly? Are you okay with the sounds of cattle mooing? Are you okay with farm smells (especially in the spring time)?
3. Land use zoning - make sure you check with the municipality or summer village to find out what the zoning is - in rural areas, its sometimes the case that a commercial property has an RV on it, or a house is on a commercial property
4. Restrictive covenants - These covenants can be registered on titles, commonly in developments around lakes. Covenants are rules imposed on land owners which restrict the use on the property. Covenants can be as simple as banning the constructing of a barbwire fence, to the banning of ATVs, to limitations to the colour of shingles.
5. GST - When you purchase a newly developed property, new home, commercial property or agricultural property, GST is applicable. It's the seller's responsibility to determine it, but do ask.
6. Water & Sewer - in a rural setting, its most often the case that the property has its own water source and septic system. In the area I work in, drilled wells are the norm. As for a water potability test, a well driller's report, and a water chemistry report, if available. Review the age of the well, the flow rate, and make sure the water's potable - you can't get a mortgage if the water is not. Be aware that flow rates (gallons per minute or gpm) can change with time and age of the well. You can make your offer conditional on having a well drilling company test the well's current flow rate. In the Buck Lake area, 10 gpm is common and acceptable. Be aware that septic systems can be your biggest head ache. Inspect the parts you can see, ask a lot of questions, looks for suspicious drain hoses and do your research - find out which kind of septic systems are allowed in the area.
7. The Land Title - once you've decided on a property, review the property's land title for caveats, utility right of ways, easements. Be aware that in Alberta, there are often pipelines in rural areas, and they often cross acreage parcels and farm land. There are limitations on how far you can build from a pipeline (depending on the type of line). You can often see pipelines on the property's survey plan.
8. Real property report and Compliance Certificate - Have the seller supply you with a current real property report, showing the location of all improvements and the lot's boundaries. The accompanying compliance certificate is issued by the local municipality and will state whether those improvements comply with their bylaws.
9. Inspection - If you are buying a recreational property with a cottage or home on it, one of your best investments is to have a certified inspector go through the property with you. A good inspector is worth their weight in gold.
10. Shoreline Restrictions - be aware that properties along lakes often have a buffer area between the lot's property line and the lake. This area is often called the environmental reserve. In these cases, you cannot build or modify the shoreline area and may be fined if you do. This includes removing trees or adding rocks or retaining walls to the shoreline. Check with the local municipality on their shoreline restrictions.
It may seem complicated, but having a retreat can be a great investment for your mind and soul.
An experienced and thorough real estate agent can help you through all of these things! Remember
to relax and enjoy!