For Buyers

ChristChurchWindermere

Finding the right neighbourhood

Choosing the right lake or neighbourhood is an important part of finding your property. If you love the cottage but hate the neighbours, or have the perfect kitchen but have an agonizing commute, you’re never going to feel completely comfortable.

Your best bet is to figure out if the area you are considering is a good fit for your family.  Before you start looking for a property and certainly before you put in an offer spend some time there; take a walk through the area, talk to neighbours who are out and about, visit local shops and restaurants, go into the local coffee shop and get a sense of the area’s personality and whether it feels right for you.

Here are few questions that can help you figure out if an area is a click for you: 

What does the area look like & who spends time there?

From  Muskoka through to Kawartha Lakes there can be a wide variation in the state of properties within a small region. Signs of neglect and vacant lots can be warning signs, but most often signal an opportunity. If an area has a lot of older cottages or homes but you notice that some have been recently rebuilt or renovated, that may be a sign that buying a property there could be a good long-term investment. Older cottages and homes can also bring with them valuable grandfathered redevelopment rights as bylaws have become significantly more restrictive, particularly with waterfront properties.

Families? Retirees? First-time homeowners? Professionals with no kids? An area populated mainly by multi generational cottaging families, for example, will feel very different from one focused on retirees.

What about convenience?

How convenient is it for you? Figure out how far you’ll have to travel for everyday stuff like grocery shopping. Where’s the marina? Dry cleaner? Post office? What about parks and recreational facilities? Being close to amenities isn’t important to everyone, but it’s a real day-to-day time saver, and can make the difference in the feel of a neighbourhood; a place where people walk to the general store and the library has a very different flavour than an area where people have to drive or boat or both everywhere they need to go. 

How long will it take to get to home? Do a dry run of your commute at the busiest times. Does your schedule allow you to be flexible with your commute? Figure out how far you are from a major highway or Muskoka or Lindsay airport. How easy is it to get there?

Property values

What are the property values like? Your cottage, house or condo is an investment so it pays to buy in an area where properties will increase in value.

You will find the greatest appreciation in our region on waterfront. With over 1400 lakes to choose from in Muskoka plus thousands more through to the Kawartha Lakes region there really is a lakeside option for almost everyone. Lake Rosseau, Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, Lake of Bays, Sturgeon Lake, Balsam and Stoney Lake tend to be the market leaders. Mid sized options such as Skeleton Lake, Peninsula Lake, Lake Vernon, Fairy Lake and Three Mile Lake will make your dollar go further. Other smaller more remote lakes include Wood Lake, Camel Lake, Leech Lake, McKay Lake. Meanwhile, Leonard Lake and Brandy Lake will put you near Port Carling without the price tag.   

For those who want a more urban vibe there are variety of neighbourhoods  within Bracebridge, Huntsville, Port Carling, Lake of Bays and Bobcaygeon. Muskoka Bay Club, Devonleigh Homes, Mattamy Homes and Port 32 fall within the higher end but there is plenty to choose from.

Ask Mark  or Susan for info on property values and additional analysis for Muskoka and its submarkets for the last 10 years - that way you make an informed purchase decision.

Proposed development

What’s in store for the area? Development, proposed rezoning and official plan amendments can change the personality of a lake or neighbourhood while increasing taxes and traffic. Look for new construction in the area and check with our local municipalities or the District of Muskoka and City of Kawaratha Lakes for planned developments and new facilities.  We highly recommend  District of Muskoka Mapping as a means to check out proposed developments as well as general topography and zoning for Township of Muskoka Lakes, Bracebridge, Gravenrhurst, Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay Township. 

Social or privacy?

Is it social or privacy you seek? Visit the area at different times of day to get a sense of the activity level. A quiet remote private road may be party central once the sun goes down, and an area near a highway or railroad may be fine at most times, but busy and nosiy at particular times. Listen for barking dogs, boat and traffic noise, overhead planes and loud music. 

Finding neighbours you like is just as important as spending time in a cottage or home that you love. Good people, great amenities, nice schools and cool shops can make or break how you feel about your investment. So talk to a REALTOR® who specializes in the area you’re interested in, do your research, and you should be able to find a community that fits your needs and your lifestyle.

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