Should you purchase the shoreline road allowance when you buy a waterfront property?

It depends. “In Haliburton County, probably eighty-five per cent of people do not own their shore road allowance,” says realtor Anthony vanLieshout or Royal LePage Lakes of Haliburton brokerage. “But if your improvements—cottage, outbuilding, dock—are sitting on it, it’s something you might want to think about.” For one thing, your financial institution may insist that you purchase the allowance if your cottage structure impinges on it, though vanLieshout says that some banks are less fussy about this as they’ve become more aggressive about lending to cottage buyers.

There are other reasons to consider buying the SRA. “If you purchase the allowance, it makes your lot larger, which may mean that you can build a bigger cottage on the property,” says Sault Ste. Marie Royal LePage broker Carl Thomas. Many townships impose limits on the size of cottages based on a percentage of the total lot size; the coverage limit may be 20 or 30 per cent of the total lot. Adding the SRA to your lot may give you the square footage you need to add that extra bedroom.

And vanLieshout points out another consideration: There’s always the possibility that cash-strapped townships could eventually say, “Your improvements are sitting on our land and we want to charge you an annual fee for that.”