Cottage Industry: Kawartha Lakes, “the new Muskoka” –

Rising prices, bidding wars, blind bids: the search for seasonal real estate has become a battlefield. Tales of 10 of Canada’s most popular vacation towns.

In the july issue Maclean’s, and every week here online, recent buyers divulge what it took to acquire their dream cabins: pool the family money, send relatives to visit, catch the first flight to Atlantic Canada after of the bubble or buy at sight. , sometimes from thousands of miles away.

Kawartha Lakes, Ontario

Median Recreational Property Price (2021): $798,000

The market: On a day with good traffic, residents of the Greater Toronto Area can reach the tree-studded Kawartha Lakes in less than two hours. Its proximity to urban centers and abundance of waterfront views have made the 3,000-square-kilometer region an especially good bet for young workers eager to play on their dockside laptops and visit the city on weekends. Of summer. From 2020 to 2021, average farmhouse prices for landlocked properties soared by 48 percent, while waterfront properties fetched just under $900,000. According to real estate agents, these days, buyers are asking fewer questions about fishing and more about Wi-Fi.

The buyers: Scott Clayton, a 54-year-old tax consultant, and his wife, Angela, a 55-year-old retired nurse.

Angela: I live in Houston, Texas, but have stayed close to my college friends, many of whom are still in Ontario. Every summer my family used to rent a cabin in Muskoka near my old roommate. She always said, “There’s a place for sale near me and you need to get it!” During the lockdown, she fell ill and passed away in June last year. I decided that I couldn’t stop seeing my friends.

In July 2021, Canada removed the quarantine requirement for visiting vaccinated Canadians; I was in Kawarthas looking at cabins in 24 hours. Scott is American and can’t work here, so we wanted to find a place close enough to the airport that he could come over for short stays. It also had to be big enough to house a group of friends, so we needed a minimum of three bedrooms. He also wanted good water to swim in; no weeds or manure. I quickly learned that any property I liked, everybody appreciated.

Our real estate agent told us that the winning offers in the area tended to be unconditional, all-cash offers and much more to ask, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars. We found a place that had five bedrooms, two and a half baths, and trees all over the property. It was perfect. I flew back to Houston and the next day we got a phone call that there were eight offers. The winner was $200,000 higher than ours. I thought, Is this going to happen every time?

After that, I didn’t visit any more cabins in person; we bought ours without being seen a month later. The property needed a lot of work, but the bones were there. It had three bathrooms, three bedrooms, no weeds, and a basement where people could stay up late noisily. It was the same again: six offers, all cash, no strings attached. Our winning bid was 30 percent higher than requested. Despite all the improvements it needed, Scott and I decided: we were going to get a farmhouse here, even if we had to renovate it. Our friends can come visit us now, as can their children. Buying here was like getting a piece of home back.

This article appears in print in the July 2022 issue of Maclean’s magazine. Subscribe to the monthly print magazine hereor buy the number online here.

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