Know What You’re Doing When Buying a Vacation Property

Whether you call the place a cabin, a camp or a cottage, the truth is undeniable: We Canadians love our summer homes.

And so, it seems, does the rest of the world: Real estate in vacation country is booming, and one popular Ontario summer recreation area saw property sales increase by more than 80 per cent last year.

This isn’t that unusual. Across the country, out-of-province and even out-of-country buyers are snapping up Canada’s vacation properties.

If you’re one, be wary: What’s supposed to be a relaxing retreat may turn stressful if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

Consider hidden costs: Vacation homes need maintenance and repairs; because you may live at a distance, this can be time-consuming and costly. Also, commuting to and from your second home (with all the stuff you’ll need for a relaxing holiday) can eat up a lot of time, money and energy. And if you opt to rent out your property when you’re not using it, add extra time to find and prepare for renters.

Because prices for vacation homes are skyrocketing, many buyers are considering co-ownership with family, friends or business partners. Ensure you make this a true joint venture, complete with a legal agreement defining each co-owner’s responsibility for maintenance and upkeep and outlining what happens should the property be sold.

Owners must also remember to keep detailed records, including receipts and before-and-after photos of renovations made to the property. Upgrading will likely impact the value of the property, and records will be important should you decide to sell.