Sales activity in Canada’s recreational property market is beginning to pick up after a slow start to the year due to a harsh winter and delayed spring, says a new report released Thursday by Royal LePage.
The 2014 Recreational Property Report said a long and severe winter delayed the traditional spring buying season, but the arrival of waterfront-friendly weather has increased interest, is generating higher inventory levels and is driving sales activity.
Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, said the recreational property market in eastern British Columbia – areas to Invermere, Salmon Arm and Fernie – have all picked up this spring.
“What our realtors are telling us in those regions is that the majority of buyers are from Alberta,” said Soper. “So with the general lift in consumer confidence in the province and the positive attitude you see reflected in the regular urban residential real estate market it seems to be spilling over into recreational markets and of course that would apply to Alberta recreational markets as well.”
In the middle of the last decade, there were record levels of sales activity in the recreational property market, driven largely by the retirement dreams of the Boomer generation but the subsequent economic downturn dampened demand in the sector, said Soper.
“Post-recession, our research found that incremental sales were driven largely by low interest rates and investors. With the 2014 market, we are seeing a return to primarily lifestyle-driven demand for cottages, cabins and chalets. Canadians continue to seek the opportunity to escape to a weekend retreat,” he said.
“Economic factors such as a stable job market, inexpensive mortgage financing and steadily improving consumer confidence remain supportive for purchasers considering recreational properties. Many Canadians dream of owning a country retreat to get away from the pressures of life in the city and the daily grind. The pursuit of a place to gather with family and friends is a notion that seems to be more attractive now than ever.”
Soper said that sharp rises in the price of recreational properties in U.S. regions favoured by Canadians, such as Arizona, Florida and California, coupled with a lower Canadian dollar relative to the American currency, is beginning to impact the Canadian recreational market.
“People who were previously wooed by bargain shopping for real estate south of the border are finding the real deals are now at home,” he said.