The idea of owning a cottage or recreational property is a dream for many Ontarians. Not only do recreational properties promise plenty of relaxation, enjoyment and quality time with family and friends, but they can be an appealing investment opportunity as well.
Whether you are looking at purchasing a recreational property for rental purposes only, a combination of personal use and periodic rentals, or for long-term personal use, the due diligence process is very important.
“Make sure you work with a local real estate specialist to ensure that you are up to speed on local zoning and building restrictions, municipal taxes and services, land boundaries and property management needs so that your time isn’t spent on costly issues and nagging maintenance concerns,” says Ron Abraham, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the actual property it is critical to get a home inspection. Since recreational properties are often left vacant for several months of the year they tend to be susceptible to issues like frozen pipes, infestation, mould and vandalism.
Abraham recommends that homebuyers start by looking at the general state of repair of the property as disrepair can indicate bigger problems. He offers homebuyers the following tips to sniff out potential problem areas when viewing a recreational property:
– Signs of vermin: Check around the foundation and entryways for signs of infestation (droppings, nests, holes).
– Roof and woodwork: Look for loose or missing shingles on the roof and check decks and stairs for rot, missing nails, warping and peeled paint. If the deck is sagging it may be unsafe.
– Dock: Look for signs of rot, missing nails and warping. Check the floats and supports and make sure hardware (like swimming ladders) is securely fastened.
– Windows and doors: Check the caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows.
– Septic and water supply: Are the water pump, well and pipes in good condition? Is there a sewage system or a septic tank? How old is the system? What is the source of the water? Can you drink the water?
– Electrical: Check the fuse box for signs of water damage. Test light switches and outlets. Make sure appliances included in the sale are in good working order.
– Furnace: Check the condition. Turn on the heat and see how well it works.
– Water damage: Examine ceilings and walls for stains and bulges. Excessive mildew can be a sign of a leak or venting issues.
– Plumbing: Turn on all faucets to test water pressure and hot water. Flush toilets to ensure proper drainage. Examine faucets, bathtubs, and under sinks for signs of water damage.
“As with any real estate investment, there are countless factors that go into making a final decision. Work with a local real estate expert who can guide you through the process of searching for a recreational property and help you keep your eye on the prize,” says Abraham.