How much value, approximately, would be added to a cottage if you were able to drive there year-round, as opposed to having no winter access?
—John Hawkins, via e-mail
Well, it varies depending on the region and on the hairiness of the winter drive—for instance, a narrow, twisty, barely-there laneway vs. a wide, paved, township-maintained road—but the answer is basically “a lot.”
“It’s a key ingredient in the overall value,” says Anthony vanLieshout, a broker at Royal LePage Lakes of Haliburton and the president of Haliburton Appraisal Services. As an example, on a $300,000 cottage, he estimates winter access would add five to 10 per cent.
“Access is the second-most important thing for new buyers,” says Chris Winney of Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty in Northbrook, Ont. (Privacy is the first.) In her area, the difference in value could be as much as 15 per cent.
If you’re asking because you’re wondering if you should winterize your cottage and make it accessible year-round before you put it on the market, then go ahead, do it. “The majority of people want year-round these days,” says broker Gail McCormack, the owner of Kawartha Waterfront Realty. “Waterfront is expensive. If they’re going to be putting that much money into it, they want the option of going there in the winter.”