Submerged lot for sale raises questions about what buyer can do

Published: July 13, 2021

Submerged lot for sale Photo via Royal LePage Peifer

A real estate listing in Shrewsbury, Ontario is making quite a splash.

The nearly 20-acre lot on Lake Erie is listed at just $99,000. At first glance it appears to be a bargain, considering the aggregate price of a waterfront property in Ontario’s recreational markets increased to $673,400 this year, according to a spring report from Royal LePage.

But before you get too excited, the listing promptly states that “this property is presently underwater.”

Typically called underwater or submerged lots, these listings are pretty rare, confirms Laura Tourangeau, president of the Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors. Tourangeau isn’t connected to the Shrewsbury listing, but can remember seeing a couple of these water lots along the Lake Erie shoreline in the past.

“It’s a pretty unique thing,” she says. “But there’s always a buyer for everything.”

The Shrewsbury lot became available when the Chatham-Kent municipality listed it as surplus land and sold it at an auction.

Historically, water lots are created for just a few specific purposes, such as storing and repairing ships and houseboats, recreational uses like marinas and private mooring, extensions to higher ground for piers and bridges, and fish farming.

But depending on the zoning, Tourangeau says prospective buyers could get creative.

“Some buyers have great ideas for what to do with the property,” she says. “Whether it’s for storing a boat, or a floating home, or even if they’re going to build something on stilts.”

And in Canada’s booming housing market, limitation often breeds creativity.

“Just in my own practice, I’ve found that buyers are pretty open to what they’d consider for a second property. Especially with prices going the way they’re going.”

If the price tag has you fantasizing about a lake property of your very own, Tourangeau recommends doing your homework first.

“First step, go check the zoning to make sure you can actually do what you want to do before making any purchase,” she says.

Your dream could also depend on how deep — or shallow — the water is, or whether it’s only submerged due to current water levels. And unless the lot includes land access, it would be a difficult option for either a floating home or mooring a houseboat.

Tourangeau can’t say whether it will become a trend but imagines that it could work for somebody looking for something a bit different.

“If you’ve got a vision for something, then you’ve got endless possibilities.”

Want to learn more about submerged lots? Check out this story.

Featured Video