The Muskoka real estate market continues to reach new heights.
Muskoka properties are a white-hot commodity and people want in, no matter the cost, say the iMuskoka Properties team of brothers Ben and Dan Imrie.
“Muskoka properties are like Apple stock,” says Ben. “We’re the highest end grouping of those triple-A stocks basically. We’re where the wealthy want to be or, at the very least, what they want to own.”
Just as certain stocks can go on a tear and double in value in a very short time, the same has happened with Muskoka properties, says Ben. Prices have doubled in a year for the most sought-after waterfront properties. Permanent residences and vacant lots have also gone up tremendously, he notes.
“Real estate that never used to matter, now matters,” says Ben. “I’ve sold a number of vacant properties that aren’t on water. These are spots that previously weren’t appealing to anyone. Now, suddenly, someone cares about it and wants to own. In fact, many people want to own it.”
Buyers are coming in at all price points says Dan, but people’s needs and wants have changed a lot in the past year. A culture shift means those who have the ability and the finances to work remotely are choosing to do so, and intend to keep doing it even when office buildings are fully open again.
“There will be people who are going to be living fulltime in Muskoka who are done with downtown Toronto, they’re done with the office,” says Dan. “They are executives, they are technology professionals, and they can work from anywhere and can afford to work from anywhere.”
Moving forward, according to a lot of experts, the business world in many sectors will see people going into the office a couple of days a week, then working from home the rest.
“It’s becoming clearer everyday that this is the future,” says Dan. “It’s driving a change in people’s lifestyle and that’s driving the real estate market.”
There is a shortage of inventory, which will always be the case due to a finite number of properties to sell in the area, explains Ben.
“The old adage, ‘we’re running out of property,’ is still legit,” he says. “It’s only becoming more apparent. Buyers know that now, they’re all commenting that there’s not much to see.”
Numbers of listings year over year have not changed much, says Ben. For example, over the last four years the highest number of listings was in 2019, when 419 properties were listed between January and May. In 2018 there were 365 listings, then 301 in 2020 and 341 in 2021.
“There isn’t that period of time where there is an abundance of listings,” he says. “The actual numbers look more or less normal, yet it feels like less because they clear out so quickly.”
However, waterfront unit sales have seen a solid year over year increase in 2021, up from 166 in 2020, 161 in 2019 and 144 in 2018.
“But waterfront or not, we are selling all properties that come to market,” says Dan. “The average time on market is 10 or 11 days, which is astoundingly low.”
A historical event also took place this year when comparing the Average Final List Price versus the Average Sale Price for properties in and around the Big Three Lakes – for Muskoka-based properties only.
For the first time ever, the number was the same, coming in at $3,122,189 for both elements. Typically, there is a slight discrepancy between the numbers, says Ben.
“This shows the market is being priced to what people are willing to pay.”
Decisions being made
Two other iMuskoka team members, brothers Tyler and Kyle DaCosta, have noticed buyers willing to pay what the market will bear, and cottagers ready to move on.
Where once emotional attachments led to cottage owners questioning whether it was the right time to sell, that no longer seems to be the case.
“Cottage owners are saying ‘we’re selling and it’s time to move on,’” says Tyler. “And the people wanting to have a cottage or a waterfront home are still out there. They’re not shying away due to the increased pricing.”
With steadfast sellers and buyers who aren’t concerned about price, it’s not hard to see why the market is where it is.
“Both buyers and sellers are making fast decisions,” he says. “That’s why the transactions keep happening so quickly.”