Essential Questions to Ask Before You Buy



Don’t let your cottage dreams turn into a nightmare! Here are some items to pay close attention to when buying your perfect slice of paradise.

For many, cottages offer the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and they’re synonymous with rest and relaxation. Whether you’re searching for a dream recreational property or casually browsing to see what’s available, it’s important to be aware of the due diligence needed when purchasing a cottage. Hidden issues and complications can arise, making it essential to ask the right questions and dig deeper to ensure you’re making an informed decision.

Local Agent

As an experienced and knowledgeable local realtor specializing in waterfront cottages, I strongly recommend working with a local realtor who knows the area well. It’s not uncommon for buyers to work with an agent from the city and run into trouble areas because their agent doesn’t know the lake, the area or the township’s requirements. Additionally, they may overpay because an out-of-town agent doesn’t know the property values in cottage country. That’s why reputable agents from outside the cottage area always refer clients to experienced real estate advisors in cottage country. This ensures that buyers receive the most knowledgeable advice, and the referring agent gets paid a portion of the sale commission simply by referring the client name to a local expert.


When it comes to cottage inspections, it’s essential to consider several factors. Firstly, a proper septic system that’s regularly serviced and pumped should be in place. As part of my due diligence, I request septic use permits that show when it was installed, by whom, what material the tank is (fibreglass or concrete), and what the septic bed is sized for. This information is essential as it plays a significant role in cottage pricing and the ability to apply for a short-term rental down the road if desired.


Water is another critical area to consider. As a local realtor, I always take a water sample and have it tested for potability on all waterfront properties with a well or that bring water from the lake through UV systems. If you plan on obtaining a mortgage or using a line of credit to purchase the cottage, the bank will insist on seeing a completed and recent water sample.


Road access is another important consideration. Knowing whether the property is serviced by a township-maintained road or a resident-maintained private road is essential. If the road is private, you may be responsible for paying for its maintenance and insurance. It’s also important to check the ease of access, especially in winter, as many private roads are not plowed or maintained during the winter months.

Lake Depth

Lake depth conditions are another key factor to consider. You should find out what controls the water level, whether the lake is spring-fed or part of a river chain controlled by dams, and whether the water level fluctuates. Knowing this information is crucial, especially if you plan to have a larger boat or a fixed keel boat.

In summary, working with a knowledgeable and friendly local realtor who specializes in waterfront cottages can help you avoid hidden issues and complications that may arise down the road. When purchasing a cottage, pay attention to septic systems, water systems, road access, and water conditions. By doing so, you’ll make an informed decision and enjoy many years of rest and relaxation in your dream recreational property.

Dreaming of buying a cottage? Let us help you make the dream come true

Jay’s passion for her chosen career is evident in her commitment to helping buyers and sellers easily navigate the complex world of real estate. Her success speaks for itself, as she consistently ranks in the top percentile of Muskoka realtors, a testament to her hard work, dedication, and expertise.

One of Jay’s specialties is waterfront sales in Muskoka, known for its stunning natural beauty and prime waterfront properties. Her experience and knowledge in this area make her a top choice for those looking to buy or sell their waterfront property in Muskoka. With her extensive experience, passion for her work, and love for the natural beauty of Muskoka, Jay Richardson is the real estate broker you want on your side.

Jay Richardson, Broker




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