Winter cottages are taking up to 180 days to sell in Ontario

This past summer, parts of Ontario’s cottage country saw real estate prices drop significantly, including in popular places like Muskoka. But with the heady days of summer behind us, many cottage-goers might wonder how the winter cottage market is faring now that the summer cottage season is coming to a close. 

Referring to data provided by the Lakelands Association of Realtors, Karen Willison, of Royal LePage Locations North, is noticing a more balanced market, with recreational properties in the Collingwood region trading at levels similar to 2017. 

“Inventory was the lowest it has ever been in 2020 in my 20-year career. Inventory levels are now robust, and demand is down,” Willison said. “We certainly have more sellers than buyers.” 

She also sees properties taking longer to sell, with an average of 60 to 90 days on the market. For luxury residences, the number goes up to 180 days.

“There are many more price reductions during the course of the listing period, as sellers resist the new reality of the market value,” Willison said.

In Haliburton, Karen Nimigon, of Century 21 Granite Realty, has also noticed a stabilizing market compared to the highs and lows of recent years.

“The market is more balanced,” Nimigon said. “Inventory levels are lower than past years, and time on the market has increased. The number of sales are down by 50 per cent — although sale prices are similar to 2021 pricing.”

With a combination of limited supply and high interest rates fuelling the market slowdown, Nimigon expects that cottage prices will remain level until the end of 2023. 

She also foresees generational ownership increasing in the region. “We anticipate succeeding generations to have more opportunities to purchase recreational properties due to the intergenerational transfer of wealth.” 

And Willison believes some buyers will still be enticed to buy moving into the winter.

“Following Thanksgiving, we usually experience the final sales push for the year with our snow lovers,” Willison explained. “They have either rented and are now ready to buy or they are buying for the lifestyle and are transitioning into retirement or reinventing themselves from a [downtown] corporate life.” 

Comparing chalets and traditional cottages in her region, Willison sees them at par. 

“They’re just a different use — mountainside to waterfront,” Willison said. “[Although] waterfront does command overall higher prices for the land portion.”

Nimigon sees autumn as a period of new listings throughout Haliburton, with buyers seeking four-season cottages.

“Buyers [are] looking to secure a cottage after months of waiting for a deal,” Nimigon said, “[whereas] sellers who have had their last summer at the cottage are ready to sell.”

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