Forget about Muskoka — Ontario cottage buyers are heading to the Ottawa Valley, where Barry’s Bay is the new black.
“It started off with a bang and it’s still very busy. It’s probably the best spring in about four years,” said Re/Max broker Cathy Pitts.
Cottage sales are booming across Canada, where demand rose in 78% of markets, according to the 2011 Re/Max Recreational Property Report released Monday.
Pitts said buyers are generally looking to shell out $300,000.
“One of the interesting things is here, although we’re only two hours or less from Ottawa, our numbers don’t come from Ottawa,” said Pitts.
“People from Muskoka and Haliburton areas are moving this way, where it’s quieter and cleaner.”
Many buyers are also coming from the greater Toronto area and southwestern Ontario.
In Barry’s Bay, a three-season cottage goes between $190,000 to $220,000.
A four-season winterized cottage would be anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000.
Finally, a year-round waterfront home ranges from $300,000 to $500,000.
Sales are steady in Rideau Lakes, a ritzy area where cottages can go for up to $1 million, said Coldwell Banker sales representative Terry Bryan, who’s based in Westport.
“They’re probably up a little bit from last year,” he said.
And the majority — 85% — of buyers are from Ottawa.
But life isn’t all gravy in the Valley.
Sales are down in the Lanark Highlands, said broker Kerri Keeney.
“There seems to be more listings than buyers. It’s a buyer’s market,” she said, adding many clients are Ottawa residents.
Keeney has been selling in the area for eight years and said since 2008 there’s been a noticeable drop in waterfront and recreational sales.
Cottages begin at $200,000 and are capped at $400,000.
While most buyers typically purchase cottages in the spring, “it’s too early” to say how 2011 will pan out, Keeney said.
Ottawans barely have to leave their backyards to enjoy cottage country.
With options in every direction, residents have the luxury of opting for a road trip or staying within a 30-minute drive.
In the Outaouais, things can get pricey in Wakefield, or more affordable in Pontiac, said Re/Max broker Serge Labrecque.
Val-des-Monts is also a popular destination, where luxury cottages are in the $600,000 range.
Countrywide, roughly half of the markets have cottages listed at $350,000 or less.
The best deal is in Newfoundland & Labrador, where prices start at $105,000.
Out west in B.C., cottages begin at $995,000 in North Okanagan/Shuswap — a steal compared to $1.5 million in 2008.