Cottage life beckons in COVID-19 days, say realtors

·2 min read

Wishing you had a lakeside cottage or a country retreat to get away to this long weekend?

You're not alone, according to local real estate agents who say they've seen a mini-boom in cottage and recreations property sales in recent weeks, despite — or perhaps because of — the pandemic.

"Even places that were languishing for a year or more on the market are selling with multiple offers," said Peggy Blair of Royal Lepage Team Realty.

Blair herself is pulling up stakes from downtown Ottawa and moving to Ashton, Ont.

"It's part of what I'm experiencing too — the desire to be somewhere where, if I have to be stuck at home, I can look out the window and see something beautiful."

Sales of homes plummeted in April and May, but rebounded in June, when 2,052 residential properties were sold, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board. The June sales were about two per cent lower than sales for the same month the previous year, but sale prices were up between 14 and 18 per cent compared to 2019.

According to the board's statistics for June, more than half the properties sold at above their asking price.

While recreational properties aren't identified as a specific category in the board's data, realtors say they are seeing a spike in demand for a nearby holiday homes in a time when air and international travel is perceived as a risky proposition, according to Blair.

And some people are even looking to make a move to a more bucolic setting permanent.

"Particularly during the lockdown, when people are trapped at home, it's a time of reflection," she said. "If they can work remotely, do they really need to live in the city?"

Peggy Blair
Peggy Blair

In places such as Dunrobin and Buckham's Bay, beautiful properties that just sat on the market for months because of economic trepidation or fear of flooding were snapped up in June, said Blair.

Lower supply, higher demand in the Outaouais

On the Quebec side of the river, the situation is much the same, according to Martin Simard of Royal Lepage Équipe Sirois Simard.

"Waterfront properties are really active right now in the region," he said. "We don't have enough inventory for the number of buyers we have. What I'm seeing now are a lot of people from Montreal looking for places because they'll have to work from home for a year or two."

Realtor Danny Sivyer of Remax Direct Wakefield specializes in cottage and recreational property sales. He says the pandemic affected springtime supply for cottages in Quebec.

"Bidding wars on cottages are the norm this summer," said Sivyer. "We had a lot less inventory, as we were not allowed to list properties during the spring when we usually do. Plus we have a lot more people trying to get out of town."