Cottage market showing signs of revival

The economic downturn has not diminished people’s appetite for a piece of Sylvan Lake waterfront, says a national report issued on Thursday.

The economic downturn has not diminished people’s appetite for a piece of Sylvan Lake waterfront, says a national report issued on Thursday.

But waterfront properties, particularly those in higher price ranges, are taking longer to sell.

Royal LePage’s 2009 Recreational Property Report collected data from Realtors in resort communities across the country said the recreational market is showing signs of revival following a slowdown in the latter half of 2008 and into the winter.

“There has been some uncertainty due to the economy, but we still have an active market that is fairly comparable to last year in terms of the level of interest from buyers,” Al Hughes of Royal LePage Network Realty Corp. is quoted as saying.

He added that listed properties, particularly those in higher price ranges, are taking longer to sell.

The report said the average price of land-access property between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet on Sylvan Lake is $691,666. Water-access homes in the same size range average $1,125,000, and residential properties 1,000 square feet or smaller that are not on the water average $285,000.

Most of the sales at Sylvan Lake last year involved homes priced between $350,000 and $450,000, said Hughes. This year, he added, properties valued from $250,000 to $350,000 have been the most popular.

The Royal LePage report said waterfront properties near the Town of Sylvan Lake are popular with professionals and other high-income buyers, while less expensive homes near other lake-front communities like Jarvis Bay and Sunbreaker Cove appeal to younger families.

Hughes said the attraction of Sylvan is the fact it offers year-round activities.

“People want properties they can use in the winter,” he said, adding that for many, boat access is also very important.

Hughes noted that fewer cottages and vacation homes in Sylvan Lake are available for rent.

“People seem to be using the cottages themselves,” he said. “A lot of older cottages that were revenue properties are being torn down and the owners are putting in new homes.”

Across Canada, the average price of a standard waterfront cottage with three bedrooms and measuring 1,000 square feet in size was $370,000 to $600,000, according to the report.

These range from lower-end properties selling for $100,000 or less in the Atlantic provinces, to between $530,000 and $880,000 in British Columbia. The range in Alberta is $400,000 to $460,000.

Royal LePage’s 2009 Recreational Property Report came less than a month after Re/Max issued its own recreational property report.

The Re/Max report estimated the starting price of a three-bedroom, winterized home on a standard-sized lot on Sylvan Lake at $1,125,000. That was the third-highest figure among the more than 50 resort areas considered, with only Vernon and Lake Windermere, B.C., topping it. Both came in at $1.2 million.

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