Covid Changes Cottage Buyers Behaviour

In early spring when Covid-19 came into full force I thought that it would be a long, quiet summer.  Hunkered down and signed up for several online educational courses, I was resigned to stay home, and keep my educational credits top of mind through online learning.

4 weeks later the phone started ringing, texts came flying in and emails filled my inbox. It seemed everyone in large urban areas wanted to escape the cramped city environment and find a spot in cottage country.  The market began heating up and by May it was a full 3 alarm fire. Many didn’t care where they bought – from the Kawartha’s to Muskoka to Parry Sound- folks just wanted to get out of the city and have a space that was considered safe.

I have been a waterfront realtor in Muskoka/Lake of Bays for 2 decades yet I haven’t seen anything to match this. Recreational markets in Muskoka and throughout the province are seeing unprecedented monthly jumps in home and cottage sales.  In Muskoka, Lake of Bays properties that languished on the market over the past 3 years were snapped up in a buying frenzy. New properties coming on the market were in bidding wars within a day. Buyers are acting with unprecedented urgency.   All remarkable behaviour – all due to the health crisis of Covid-19.

COVID changed buyers’ cottage search wish lists. While waterfront exposure (west and south) has always been listed in a buyer’s “like to have” a new and important criterion is high-speed internet and a home office. Builders are quickly swerving to provide home office space as a must-have in new builds.  Multigenerational homes and four-season cottages are an increasing trend. Ageing parents and adult children coming under one roof are definitely changing second home requirements.  Homes with secondary suites suitable for ageing parents or mature children are gaining popularity.

High-speed internet is demanded as working from the cottage with zoom in meetings becomes the ordinary. Cottage country has spotty and, in many cases, very expensive internet. Dependable internet has become a must-have for buyers.

Covid-19 has changed the real estate market in all recreational areas and certainly in north Muskoka. Small town Ontario is changing – as the cranes for the new condo buildings in Toronto slow, the mad rush into cottage country is at high speed. The face of business and of small communities is changing rapidly. Real estate in Muskoka is expensive but less expensive than buying a single-family home in many parts of Toronto.  One can afford a bigger home and a bigger lot offering more space and more privacy. Small town Muskoka gives a greater feeling of safety and security as neighbours look out for one another here. Living close to nature with bike trails and parks and lakes is a healthy lifestyle. The family unit grows closer to a slower pace of life.

The pandemic has changed life for many in the way we live and work. If one is fortunate enough to leave the city, whether a vacation home or full-time living,  I welcome you to our lovely safe laid back community.

©2022 Jay Richardson