Sask. cottage, cabin demand heats up real estate market

·2 min read

Prospective cottage owners in and around Regina are apt to learn the spring buying season won’t be a day at the beach. Young families and retirees are doubling demand for out-of-town abodes so far this year.

Low interest rates and travel restrictions forced by the COVID-19 pandemic are driving their demand.

In the Qu’Appelle Valley northeast of Regina, cottages and cabins are sitting listed for less than a week, according to John McNally, the owner-broker with Hatfield Valley Agencies.

“I don’t have anything really listed anymore. They’re selling faster than I can put ‘em up … You’re looking at a day (turnaround time) and multiple offers” per property, he said.

His business sells properties on each of the valley’s four lakes — Pasqua, Echo, Mission and Katepwa. Empty lots, too, are hot commodities, he said.

Before the pandemic a cottage in the area would sit on the market, on average, for one to two months.

“We’ve always had good demand,” McNally said. “But there’s just a lot more people looking for that, because I think they’re coming to the realization travelling and all that sort of stuff is not going to be on the horizon.”

Non-essential travel (tourism and leisure) between the United States and Canada remains closed at land-based border crossings at least until April 21. That date will mark 13 consecutive months for the closure.

In Regina Beach, C&C Realty owner-broker Les Zurowski said 2020, the busiest year of her 27-year career, has given way to high demand through the first quarter of 2021.

“All indications are demand’s going to continue into this summer,” she said.

Young retirees are driving demand for lakefront properties, which tend to have higher asking prices, Zurowski said.

“30- to 40-year-olds are probably the prime buyers for starter homes and for a lot of the cottages … I think the market is still being driven by low interest rates.

“But I think COVID has definitely encouraged or made people curious about getting out of the city and getting out to some open spaces,” either as a work-from-cottage setup or as a weekend-hideout from the city.

Data from the Saskatchewan Realtors Association backs up both brokers’ assessments.

In January and February this year “sales of year-round recreational properties are up 225 per cent compared with 2020,” up to 39 from 12, economic analyst Chris Gbekorbu said in an emailed statement. “Seasonal properties are up 150 per cent (15 in 2021 compared with 6 in 2020).”

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post