There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to the high demand for real estate, particularly in areas outside the GTA.
With some of the best boating areas in Ontario, properties in Simcoe County, Georgian Bay, Severn Township and the surrounding areas are a hot commodity. And it’s not just those on water that are getting snapped up.
“There is huge demand with very low inventory in both cottage and residential property market segments,” says John Matthews, broker of record for Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Clarke Muskoka Realty. “We’re continuing to see offers and final sales coming in well over the listing price.”
To illustrate how hot the market is, John uses the example of a 650-square foot residential property without a basement that didn’t have water access; its main feature was a big garage. The sellers were asking for $395,000 and it ended up selling for $550,000.
The demand for properties in these areas has a lot to do with the location explains John, who has been in the real estate business 18 years.
Most properties are within striking distance of a fabulous waterway, such as Georgian Bay, Gloucester Pool, Lake Simcoe, the wonderful Trent Severn Waterway, or the lovely Six Mile Lake. “You’re right on the edge of some of the best boating in the world,” he says.
Meanwhile, those looking to make a permanent move have Barrie, Midland, Orillia and a number of smaller communities within 20 to 40 minutes for shopping and events.
Sales representative Bob Emmett, who has over 25 years’ experience in the business and in the Port Severn area, points out that the proximity to the GTA is another asset. Newer cottagers in particular see the shorter travel times and distances as a real benefit.
“We’re only 90 minutes from the city, which is a big selling point,” says Bob. “I live right in Port Severn, I can be in Oakville – Trafalgar and Lakeshore – faster than I get to Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. I can get down to Vaughan in an hour: just jump on the 400 and away you go.”
Even though prices have been rising dramatically, this area still offers some more affordable options for first-time cottagers, particularly when compared with many of the Muskoka lakes.
“Prices can sometimes be half as much for waterfront here, especially on the smaller lakes,” says Bob.
Starting to see turnover
John and Bob have seen changes in the market in the past two years, particularly on the smaller lakes in the area.
Historically there hasn’t been a lot of turnover in cottages. “Generally, it’s been a very close-knit community in terms of buyers and sellers,” says Bob. “We’ve only just started to see that change in the last couple of years.”
John says many people have built large and stunning cottages, but they have tended to keep them or pass them along to family members. Even sales to non-family members tended to be to a family member of a neighbouring cottager.
“We’ve seen a turnover of properties and that’s mainly because of people upgrading or moving to a different lake,” says John. “But now we’re finally seeing some first-time cottagers get into the market.”
New office now open
Late last year, Clarke Muskoka Realty saw an opportunity to expand their territory into Georgian Bay Township, Tay Township, Orillia, Severn Township, Ramara, and Simcoe County.
It was a great decision, says Bob Clarke, owner of Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Clarke Muskoka Realty. Bob and Jeffrey have have proved to be passionate and energetic team members.
“We’ve really hit the ground running with a couple of amazing additions to our team,” says Bob Clarke.
The duo have been working out of the Port Severn office, where they saw strong success early on. In the first month as part of the Clarke Muskoka Realty team, they had over $20 million in sales. This was partially spurred on by the recognized brand they became associated with, as several sellers decided to list with Bob and Jeffrey once they learned about the new affiliation.
“We’re very confident this expansion is going to be a great benefit to us, both in the short and long term,” says Bob.
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI