Haliburton no longer a ‘Best Kept’ Secret

Haliburton no longer a ‘Best Kept’ Secret. 

Haliburton has become a sought-after cottage area with more cottages than ever listed for more than $1 million.

COMMUNITY Oct 23, 2018 by Kim Goggins Huntsville Forester

There was a time, not that long ago, when a waterfront cottage listed at $499,000 would not sell very quickly in Haliburton. It would languish on the market for months with nary a look, and then drop to $449,000 or lower before would-be buyers showed interest.

With quality lakes in abundance, Algonquin landscapes around every corner, and many ways to get to Haliburton County from the GTA that avoids the traffic headaches of Highway 400, those days are gone, say local real estate professionals.

“We’re seeing the average price of a Haliburton cottage go up and up and up, year over year,” states Rob Serediuk, sales representative with Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. “I remember in 2014, I had tons of listings on a big lake like Kennisis, priced between $400,000 and $500,000. We’d have some at $499,000 for a year and then we took them to $449,000. Still nothing. And in just a matter of a few years, all of a sudden those places are gone. There’s nothing under $500,000, and Haliburton used to be a place where you could get a decent cottage on a decent lake for $500,000.”

Andrew Hodgson, owner of Century 21 Granite Realty Group, agrees that although there are some seasonal cottages in the high $300,000 range, the prices are north of $500,000 for a year round cottage on a sought-after lake.

“Ten-to-15 years ago when you saw the first million-dollar listing on the market, we, as veteran realtors, were saying, ‘good luck in seeing a million dollars in Haliburton.’ And now it’s the norm. I’ve had more luxury-listed properties on the market at one time this year than I have ever had in my (30-year) career.”

“(In 2017), we saw an increase upwards to 20 per cent on water,” says Hodgson. “We haven’t seen that kind of a price increase this year, but we are holding our prices pretty steady.”

According to The Lakelands Association of Realtors, the average sale price of a waterfront property was $542,011 between January and July 2018. That’s up from $510,280 during the same period in 2017. Although it’s not the double-digit increase the area saw from 2016 to 2017, it’s still an average sales price increase of six per cent.

“Haliburton is no longer cottage country’s best kept secret,” says Serediuk. “If you look at the exposure Haliburton got when Cottage Life launched its TV channel. You had Colin and Justin do two seasons of Cabin Pressure, you had Decks, Docks and Gazebos do two season, you had What’s for Sale? focus in on Haliburton big time.”

There are also more luxury waterfront properties listed at more than $1 million, which is becoming the norm, notes Linda Baumgartner, a broker with Remax North Country Realty.

“The trend that I’m seeing, is more luxury price points on the market, so there’s more to choose from,” she says. “Ten-to-15 years ago when you saw the first million-dollar listing on the market, we, as veteran realtors, were saying, ‘good luck in seeing a million dollars in Haliburton.’ And now it’s the norm. I’ve had more luxury-listed properties on the market at one time this year than I have ever had in my (30-year) career. Back 10-to-15 years ago, people were testing the market at a million. Well, now we’re seeing more properties go on the market in that $2 million threshold.”

However, this price point is still taking longer to sell than waterfront listed under $1 million.

Stats by The Lakelands Association of Realtors show that in 2017 there were 26 properties sold at over a million dollars and 12 waterfront properties sold at $1 million or higher between January and July 31, 2018.

“We have quite a bit of inventory right now in Haliburton over $1.5 million – beautiful places – but at the end of the day, these kind of prices are fairly new to the Haliburton market and we’re going to see more and more,” says Serediuk. “I think the Haliburton market will get to a point where a $2 million sale is not unusual, but I have to do some pretty innovative marketing and listing techniques in order to get those properties some attention.”

Although 2017 was an extraordinary year for real estate transactions in Haliburton, and average sales prices are still increasing, changes to mortgage rules, a 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax and higher interest rates led to less cottages being sold in 2018. Between January and end of July 2017, 260 waterfront cottages were sold. In comparison, only 197 cottages were sold during the same period in 2018, reports Crystal Henderson, executive director of The Lakelands Association of Realtors.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that 2018 is a more ‘normal’ year than 2017 was, notes Serediuk. “(The year) 2017 was crazy everywhere in Ontario leading up to about mid-June. That’s when the buyers started to take a step back in the GTA,” he says.

According to the report put out by Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd., this slowdown took close to a 20 per cent toll on housing values in the GTA, which inevitably affected cottage purchases in the last half of 2017 and so far in 2018.

“You have to remember that most people are getting money by tapping into the equity in their home in order to buy the cottage,” says Serediuk. “When they were told their home was worth $1.5 million in the spring of 2017 and then all of sudden their place was worth $1.2 million, it impacted their cottage budget in a lot of ways.”

Baumgartner also credits a lack of inventory under $1 million that has played into lower sales for 2018.

“Because we’ve been experiencing low inventory, buyers are now patiently waiting versus last year in the spring and into the early summer, buyers were looking at a property and saying, ‘yes I want it and we’re making an offer,’” she says. “Now, they’re saying, ‘you know what, I’m going to drive home and sleep on it. We’re going to talk about it overnight and let you know.’”

As prices start to adjust, real estate professionals are forecasting a more balanced market in the spring of 2019.

“We’ve seen large increases in Haliburton year over year for the average sale of a cottage, but I think what we’re going to see is it balance out. The reason we saw a large increase in the average sale price is because there were more higher-end sales and less lower-end sales,” surmises Serediuk. “I think 2018 was a transition year, getting over 2017 because nobody knew what was going on in 2017. I think at the end of the day, Haliburton is and will be one of the most desired areas just because of the look and feel.”

This means listing your cottage in the fall is a good idea, says Baumgartner. “Any clients I talk to that are asking if they should put it on the market now or wait for that robust spring market, I’m telling them I would list it now,” she says. “Once we move into a more balanced market, values are going to correct themselves just as they have in the GTA and surrounding areas.”

Fall is a good time for buyers, too, says Hodgson, because it gives them an opportunity to see the waterfront at its lowest level.

He and other real estate professionals in the Haliburton area see Millennials having a big impact on the Haliburton market in the coming years as they continue to rent in the GTA and buy cottages in Haliburton to get into the market. When they aren’t using the cottage, they rent it out to offset costs.

“The Millennials are one of our fastest growing groups,” he says. “It’s going to be the fastest growing group ever to hit the real estate market so I’m quite excited about them. They are making money and looking for cottages and recreational properties.”

Source: https://www.muskokaregion.com/community-story/8982636-haliburton-no-longer-a-best-kept-secret/

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Fred Heinzler

Fred Heinzler

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CENTURY 21 Granite Realty Group Ltd., Brokerage*
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