The demand for cottages has increased over the years, and what was once a relatively low cost alternative for a family getaway has now become a significant financial investment. One way to get good value for your money is to consider buying a cottage in the off season.
All things being equal in terms of lot size and square footage, its features and general state of repair, there are three important factors that will tend to determine a cottage’s value compared with other similar properties. These three factors should be given careful consideration when choosing a cottage:
- its commuting distance from a major urban center
- its proximity/convenience to leisure activities (either waterfront for summer, ski hills in winter or both), and
- its accessibility/ability to be used throughout the year.
A cottage that can be used in winter as well as summer will have the broadest appeal, and usually has more amenities to suit its many usages. That can also translate into a higher asking price. However, a year-round property also tends to offer a better potential to increase in value over time for the same reasons.
If you’re considering a year-round cottage, winter is an ideal time to view the property. It will give you a realistic idea of how accessible the roads are and how long it will take to get there under challenging road conditions. If the roads to the property are not plowed in winter, that may result in the property only being accessible by snowmobile or ATV. That will have a major impact on its selling price and future resale value. Viewing the cottage in winter also lets you see the heating system in action. Wood stoves and fireplace inserts do a far better job of heating a space than just an open fireplace, but few people would find them adequate to meet all the demands of a cold Canadian winter. If there’s no back-up heating system in place — either electric baseboards or a furnace — you may want to allow for the expense of installing one as part of your budget. Remember that if you plan to add baseboard heaters, they draw a lot of power, and you’ll need to be sure the cottage wiring has the hydro capacity to handle the demand.
The best news about viewing a cottage in winter is that there are usually fewer buyers around to compete with your offer – especially if the cottage’s primary usage is just as a summer getaway. If the property is water access only, then the seller’s options are seriously limited. The seller may not be looking forward to carrying the expenses until next summer approaches, so an offer now could have a great deal of appeal. This could be just the right time to make your move. Ask your Coldwell Banker® real estate professional how to turn the winter season into your buying advantage!