Q&A

Is fall the best time to buy a cottage?

By Kim PittawayKim Pittaway

The Question

Is fall the best time to buy a cottage?

The Answer

It can be. “The season’s over and the seller might be more motivated to unload it because they don’t want to carry it through the winter,” says Christine Martysiewicz of Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada. But is the price low enough to compensate for the fact that you’ll be carrying those costs for those first six or eight months when you likely won’t get much use from the property? “If there’s a lot of available product in the area, you have the luxury of saying ‘We’ll wait until spring, and if it’s still there, we’ll buy it. If not, there will be other properties to consider,’” says Martysiewicz.

There are reasons besides price to look in fall though, says Haliburton broker Anthony vanLieshout of Royal LePage Lakes of Haliburton brokerage. “I’ve always felt that fall’s the best time to buy,” he says. Many of the lakes in his area are reservoir lakes, where water levels drop two to nine feet in the fall. “You’ll get to see the shoreline at its most visible, and see what the low water level is like. And with the foliage coming off the trees, you’ll see the cottage’s privacy level when it’s at its worst.”

Land O’ Lakes broker Chris Winney of Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty tips towards spring. “It’s wet,” she says. “In my experience, water is one of the worst enemies of a cottage, and in spring, you’ll get a good sense of how dry the cottage stays.” You’ll also see how water-laden the ground itself gets.

And what about winter bargain hunters? “I get nervous when people buy in winter,” says Winney. “You can’t see the shoreline, and unless you or the agent know the property or have good photos of the shoreline, it’s hard to know what you’re getting.”


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