Real Estate

Cottage Q&A: Road quality and cottage property value

laneway By extremechan/Shutterstock

What impact could road quality have on my cottage property value?—F. & P. Hanover, via email

If you’re asking because you’re planning to sell a cottage on a narrow, winding axle-breaker, don’t hit the panic button. The state of the road is generally not as important as other factors, such as privacy. In fact, some buyers may see wide, paved roads as a bad thing.

“Around here, paved roads mean that you’re on a major road,” says Bernie Raven of B.C.’s MaxWell Realty Invermere. “A lot of people don’t want that.”

Safe, reliable access to a cottage is always going to add value. But access can depend on factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the road. Is the road shared and, if so, are the property owners who share it responsible for maintenance? Is the property accessible by snowmobile? Could right-of-way disputes come up in the future? Smart buyers have these questions. The wrong answers could deter them more than any hairpin turns or potholes.

Here are 15 things to consider when looking for a cottage.

Plus, for some, sketchy roads are an expected part of lake life, like accidentally drinking an ant that has drowned in a wineglass or wearing the same pair of socks for three days straight. “People who grew up going to cottages can see this as all part of the cottage experience,” says Chris Winney of Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty in Northbrook, Ont. What’s more, a good realtor can overcome a bad road. “If I think a road is going to be a deterrent, I’ll drive buyers in myself for the first trip or take them in by boat,” says Winney. “Once people have fallen in love with the property, they’re willing to overlook road issues.”

Looking for Ontario cottage real estate? Meet more than 400 realtors at the Spring Cottage Life Show.

Got a question for Cottage Life’s Cottage Q&A? Send it to

Featured Video