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Spring flooding not sinking cottage markets in Ontario, Quebec: report

TORONTO — Spring flooding has failed to sink Ontario and Quebec’s cottage real estate markets, according to Royal LePage’s annual recreational property report.

Parts of Quebec cottage country were inaccessible for weeks because of road closures and some Ontario properties had to be viewed when they were partially submerged.

Yet demand is so strong in central Canada and available homes so few that people shopped for properties impacted by flood waters without being able to enter them, says CEO Phil Soper.

“It changed viewing and probably closing but it hasn’t moved the needle in terms of the number of homes transacting in these recreation areas in the season,” he said in an interview.

Canada’s recreational property market is strong with aggregate prices as of March 31 rising five per cent to $411,471. That’s despite an 8.3 per cent decrease in sales due to low inventory in Ontario and weak demand in British Columbia.

Most provinces experienced a decrease in sales, but Quebec sales grew by 6.3 per cent driven by the province’s strong job market and healthy urban housing dynamics that has spread to recreational properties.

The realtor firm forecasts aggregate prices for single family homes will rise another 4.7 per cent this year as high demand in central Canada offsets softer market conditions in B.C., due in part to the imposition of a tax on out-of-province owners, including those from Alberta.

“It’s probably been at least 10 years since we’ve seen so many buyers buying for so few properties and that’s putting an upward pressure on prices.” said Soper.

The number of buyers has accelerated as retiring baby boomers are competing with millennials, creating some unusual buying dynamics.

Alberta’s aggregate price for single family recreational homes rose 10.2 per cent last year to $819,583, largely due to an 11.4 per cent pick up in the costly Canmore market about an hour’s drive from Calgary.

Ontario prices increased 7.2 per cent to $393,253, Atlantic Canada was up 5.9 per cent to $257,965 and Quebec 4.5 per cent to $194,315. British Columbia inched up just 0.4 per cent to $669,601 and the Prairies fell 6.3 per cent to $194,147.

Ontario is expected to lead the country this coming year by growing eight per cent, followed by Quebec at 5.6 per cent, Alberta at 2.4 per cent, B.C. at 1.7 per cent and Atlantic Canada at 0.7 per cent. The Prairies are forecast to decrease another 3.1 per cent.

The most expensive median price is rare waterfront property in Canmore, Alta., at $2.7 million, followed by nearly $2.4 million in Whistler. However, the most expensive overall regions are Whistler and the Muskokas north of Toronto.

The lowest prices are in Les Appalaches, south of Quebec City but the best deals in terms of quality and prices can be found in Atlantic Canada, including Prince Edward Island, southern Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, said Soper.

“Gorgeous, gorgeous ocean-front properties for the price of something in a farmer’s field in Ontario.”

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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