Atlantic Canada’s cottage market is expected to remain hot in 2022. Tied with Quebec’s 15 per cent increase, the East Coast is predicted to have the highest recreational property price gain in Canada this year. That includes waterfront cottages, chalets, cabins, and even recreational land used for camper trailers. According to Royal LePage’s Recreational Property report, the average price in Atlantic Canada will rise from $237,000 to $272,550 in 2022.
Following the rest of the country’s cottage markets, the price of an East Coast cottage has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Closed borders compelled Canadians to look for domestic retreats, and since many cottage owners have held onto their properties throughout COVID, it has kept inventory low, driving up prices with multiple offers.
Nova Scotia’s market, in particular, has piqued the interest of buyers. Thanks to the province’s affordable prices, Nova Scotia has become a compelling location for Ontario and Quebec prospective owners who have been priced out of their local markets.
“It’s about 50/50,” says Corey Huskilson, a real estate agent in South Shore, N.S. “Maybe even more Nova Scotians, actually. But with regular residential homes, we’re seeing a lot more out-of-province buyers.”
Further out on the Atlantic coast, Newfoundland’s waterfront cottage market has also experienced a jump. Combined with Nova Scotia’s market, the two provinces saw a 39.3 per cent increase in the price of a waterfront cottage between 2020 and 2021, rising from $239,000 to $333,000.
Year-over-year increase of recreational property price in Nova Scotia in 2021
Nova Scotia’s waterfront properties were in demand in 2021. The Annapolis Valley, which is located between two mountain ranges on the western side of the province, near the Bay of Fundy, led the way with a 70 per cent increase. The average price of a cottage rose from $210,000 to $357,000.
Cape Breton, on Nova Scotia’s eastern coast, followed with a 31.6 per cent increase from $266,000 to $333,000. Finally, the South Shore, near Halifax, saw a 16.8 per cent price increase, jumping from $315,000 to $368,000.
Who are the buyers?
As Huskilson said, Nova Scotia’s cottage market has seen interest from both Ontario and Quebec, but that segment will likely taper off in 2022 due to the government introducing a new property tax and a deed transfer tax aimed at out-of-province buyers.
“People who have not just purchased but inherited properties are now going to be paying more than double their yearly expenses for taxes. It’s a big hit. You can’t just sit on it like you normally would. It’s a full-on liability for people,” Huskilson says.
Aside from out-of-province buyers, there’s a lot of interest from young Nova Scotian families, Huskilson says. This segment could continue to grow as remote work becomes more established and out-of-province buyers are dissuaded by the new taxes.
What’s selling and what isn’t?
Waterfront properties are a key commodity right now, both oceanfront and lakefront. Oceanfront properties are more popular as four-season homes or cottages, while lakefront properties are in demand among those looking to take advantage of recreational boating.
“They’re all moving,” Huskilson says. “Everything from three-season, non-insulated, small little camps to high-end cottages.”
Future predictions for Nova Scotia real estate
Even with the new taxes and the reopening of international borders, Huskilson expects 2022 to be a strong year for cottages.
“I think it will hit pretty similar till at least the fall,” he says. “I don’t see a whole lot of change. I see a lot more [cottages] coming on the market, but more buyers are coming out of the woodwork. So, I don’t think it’s going to switch to a buyers’ market by any means.”
Year-over-year increase of recreational property price in Newfoundland in 2021
According to the Royal LePage report, most of Newfoundland’s cottage market is around the island in the province’s Central Region. Between 2020 and 2021, the area’s waterfront cottages saw a 22.1 per cent price increase, raising the average cost from $131,000 to $160,000.
Who are the buyers?
Unlike Nova Scotia, Newfoundland hasn’t had the same attention from out-of-province buyers. Instead, cottages are being snapped up by locals in their 30s or older with secure incomes, says Glenn Larkin, a realtor in Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. Since some sections of the island lack cell service, remote work hasn’t factored into driving sales, but the inability to travel has played a major role.
“People who have a good bit of equity in their house, now they’re saying, ‘Listen, we can’t travel to Florida, let’s let’s buy a summer cottage,'” Larkin says. During the pandemic, he even encountered some buyers who’d sold their Florida properties in favour of a local cottage.
Larkin isn’t convinced that the reopening of international borders in recent months has swayed too many Newfoundland buyers back to sunnier waters as the cottage market remains strong.
What’s selling and what isn’t
It’s not oceanfront that’s attracting cottagers in Newfoundland, it’s pond frontage. Rather than the large chains of lakes found in central Canada, the province features small ponds. Anything within a two-hour drive from St. John’s on a pond is popular, Larkin says.
“Those have sold very well, and have multiple offers, and are not on the market very long.”
Future predictions for Newfoundland real estate
Same as the rest of Canada, Newfoundland is experiencing a lack of inventory, especially in cottages, Larkin says. Compared to 2021, he feels there’s even less inventory on the market, but sales volume remains just as high.
Despite these trends, Larkin says he believes 2022 is going to be a changing of the seasons in terms of Newfoundland’s cottage real estate.
“Interest rates are getting hit. Gas is high. So, the problem you’re gonna run into is: I’m not going to buy a summer cottage that’s two hours away because the gas is too expensive to go to it,” he says. “It will have an effect. The farther [the cottage is] from St. John’s, the harder it’ll be to sell.”