This last year has taught a lot of us about our true priorities, and for many that means getting closer to family, friends, good times and the openness of nature and further away from that which harms our mental wellness or crowds our landscape. For those that have the new option of remote working, decided to retire earlier, or to reinvest their savings into something more meaningful to themselves and their families, recreation homes ended up being that outlet.
To give us insight into the warmth of the recreational real estate market, Wayne William Heine a RE/MAX Real Estate broker from Edmonton Lake Property informs us about the current conditions.
“Considering it is winter in lake country, statistically, only about 5 per cent- 8 per cent of our market sells in the period between November 1 and April 1. This winter we’ve had 38 sales, where last year in the same period there were only 15 sales.”
Delving deeper into the overall numbers, “If you look at the period between April 1, 2020, to February 20, 2021, there have been 182 sales and $59 million dollars of value; if you look at the same period from April 1, 2019, to Feb 2020, there were only 121 sales and $35 million dollars in value. The dollar sales year over year have almost doubled, and this winter, sales are up 150 per cent. I’ve been involved with over $18 million sales in the last year, or 30 per cent of the market. Looking forward to 2021, our phones and requests for business have never been this busy.”
Regarding their most popular requests, Heine says, “Lakefront property continues to be our most requested purchase. With prices reaching over $600,000 just for a small lakefront lot without a house, many buyers look to one of our many lake communities where you can still get a great four-season home from the low $200,000s. The excellent news for these buyers is, most lake communities offer full lake access, meaning that you can get a spot to hoist your boat for the season.”
Speaking with Ben Loates, a Realtor® with The GOOD Real Estate Company, we learn more about the process of how one can go about selling their family home at the right time. “The first and most important thing to note is the temperature of the market. If you’re selling the family home, you’ve probably paid your mortgage down and have some significant equity stocked up in there. Be connected to a spectacular agent that knows the ebbs and flows of the market and can give you a heads up in real time when the best time to capitalize on that nest egg is. The right pivot in the market can give you an extra $10K if you’re on the pulse!”
Researching about the community you are moving to, and understanding the increased distance from family is key, says Loates. “For your new recreation property, research: community, amenities, lake quality, Facebook community chat message boards, etc. Even just ask a question on “Parkland County chat” about the quality of the lake you’re considering. Trust me, you’ll hear it all on Facebook and for sure, be able to make your own very, very informed decision.
“Really lock in on location, this is so important; consider your distance from the larger cities, distance from your children and grandchildren. Remember any home can be reno’d but you can’t change where you live. Inevitably things will come up in life and you’ll find yourself driving in and out to Edmonton. Make sure you’re good with that distance. It can, and does, become an issue for those that take the plunge fulltime. Don’t let a beautiful home make you compromise on location. I’ve seen couples sell that amazing lake home later on because their kids were just too far at the end of the day.”
Loates continues, “Know what type of market you’re in. Is it going to be easier to sell? Harder to buy? Vice versa? If there’s a massive lack of inventory in rec properties and you’re looking for that forever property and you find the one, perhaps you hold the two properties and then sell your family home in due time because the market is hot on the selling side.”
Loates reinforces in person visits, “Go and see a few in person, get a feel. There is nothing worse than looking online at those photos and then showing up and feeling completely deflated because it sucks in person. Make sure you have someone you trust who has great knowledge and your best intentions at heart that can guide you through all these questions. If that’s all locked in? Pull the trigger.”
To get insight on the builder side of the market, we spoke with Alana Comartin, Vice President of Knotty Pines, about how the decision process has evolved for many in regards to building their dream cabin.
“We always say that it’s something inherent in us as Canadians to want to have a cabin to escape to. Given that travel is currently quite restricted, people are looking for a safe place to relax and retreat to in their own backyard. Many of our clients are moving their goal posts for future plans and deciding to go ahead and build sooner with all of the unknowns regarding the current global situation. We also have a lot of clients that are looking to downsize or move to a more rural location. The underlying reasons for the move to a simplified lifestyle are quite different from what we have seen in the last 14 years.”
Comartin mentions changes in trends, “Over the years, there definitely has been a trend towards a more simplified lifestyle but nothing like the last year, which has taught us more about what is important in life. Family, health and the basic necessities are the highest on everyone’s list.”
Comartin’s advice for those interested in building is, “If you’re looking to create your own retreat, the best advice that we can give you is to start planning early! Some of our clients have property they have been wanting to build on for years and others are on the hunt to find the perfect location to put one of our homes or cabins. Certain areas may have certain square footage requirements or other guidelines to follow. Make sure you have a budget in place for the land and the home or cabin. At Knotty Pine Cabins, we work with great financial advisors that can help you get financing for both.”
In regard to the future of the market, Heine has this to say. “The most recognizable component driving our market had been people with cash and a more mature buyer. Today we are seeing young families taking advantage of the low-interest rates. Buying a four-season lake house has become quite affordable. With 5 per cent down, a $200,000 mortgage can be as low as $800 a month. Today’s lake consumers are finding our services cost less; housing at this point is less at the lake. All signs point to an outstanding year in 2021.”
If you have found yourself considering a move to a more rural setting, today may be the best time to start planning and get your hands on the recreational property of your dreams.