Buying a cottage

Buying a cottage
Have you ever dreamed of owning a cottage? If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have said no thank you! As much as I enjoyed visiting friends’ cottages on the long weekends, hanging out on the dock, playing euchre and enjoying nature, I never had the desire to own and operate a cottage of my own. They are a lot of money, a lot of work and my husband and I really preferred to spend our vacation time and budget travelling.
And then I had a baby.
Suddenly going anywhere that required boarding an airplane lost its appeal, and packing up the car for a simple overnight took a lot of planning and then I still usually managed to forget something essential. At the same time I realized how amazing it would be to have a special retreat where we would create priceless family memories. So we started shopping for a cottage. And four short years later we bought one.
For some people buying a cottage can be an impulse buy. If you get caught up in the excitement and buy the first property you see on the lake where your friends have a cottage it can work out really well. Good for you! For the rest of us, buying a cottage takes a lot of patience. There are a lot of practical and emotional factors to take into consideration. For example, what you want in terms of privacy, water access, and amenities. What you will be using the cottage for; family vacations, hosting friends, renting to produce income or a future home for retirement.
You should probably visit your bank before calling the real estate agent. Financing a cottage depends on access, whether or not it can be winterized and water quality. Knowing your budget will help you choose a location. In Ontario it might be Muskoka, Georgian Bay, Haliburton, Algonquin, Kawarthas, Bruce Peninsula or Lake Huron. You will choose based on childhood memories, favourite camping experiences, preferred activities and convenience. But mostly based on budget.
You need to find a local real estate agent. Everyone knows a real estate agent but no, you can’t use your friend or the agent that helped you buy your home. You can definitely ask them for a suggestion or a referral but when you are buying recreational property you need someone who know first-hand about water levels, erosion and dealing with conservation authorities. Or even the specific property’s suitability for swimming. Things can vary widely even in neighbouring properties and relying on the internet for this kind of information is risky.
We sent a few emails to agents and got a wonderful reply from Monique ( detailing the pros and cons of various areas we had been considering. We worked with Monique for four years and saw a real variety of properties including one that looked like it had been perfectly preserved for the 50s, one where our van got stuck in the mud and she helped push us out, and the one we finally bought.

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  • Lisa Alberico