By Todd Lewys
It’s a decision that’s nearly as monumental as buying a home: choosing the right cottage for your family.
Realtor Jennifer Berthelette says it’s a decision that prospective cottage buyers shouldn’t take lightly.
“There’s just so much to know,” she says. “It’s a process that isn’t as simple as it seems.”
The first thing to do is to determine where you want to buy a cottage.
Of course, preferences may enter in to where you buy, as you may prefer the Whiteshell over the Interlake for a variety of reasons.
However, there’s an issue that’s important to consider, especially if you have a young family with several children under the age of 10.
“One thing you’ll want to factor in when you’re deciding where you want to buy your cottage is commute time,” says Berthelette. “Do you want to spend an hour traveling out to the lake, or is your destination worth traveling two to three hours for?”
Once you’ve decided where you want to buy, there’s something every cottage buyer should do, she adds.
Choose an area specialist
“The first thing you should do is choose an area specialist who not only has local knowledge of the area that you’re interested in buying in, but who is also familiar with all the little ins and outs that come with buying a cottage.”
Not surprisingly, finding the right cottage is a very involved process.
To help out your Realtor, you should know what your budget is. Does your budget allow for a basic cottage, or something more elaborate?
Next comes where you want your cottage to be located.
“In the past, many buyers have wanted to be close to the water to launch their boat, and so their kids had a place to play right on the water,” says Realtor Kourosh Doustshenas. “Today, it seems as if that’s not as important. Most buyers just want some access (to water) nearby. They want to be in an accessible, yet safe and secure spot that won’t be subject to flooding.”
He adds that a family’s situation may also play a central role in where they buy a cottage.
“If you have young children, you might want to be closer to the water so you can swim and go boating. If you have a more mature family, your priority might be to choose a quiet area where you can sit back and relax.”
Doustshenas says that families should have a clear idea of what type of cottage they want to buy — not only to help their Realtor find the right cottage for their needs, but to meet their budget.
After all, more expenses come with the purchase of a family cottage: a second mortgage, property taxes and utility bills — not to mention upkeep and maintenance.
“It’s important to determine what your priorities are. Do you want a basic cottage, or something more elaborate,” he says. “If affordability is important, you’ll want to buy further from the water. If you want a cottage that’s close to the water, you’re going to pay more. Try to buy the cottage that works best for you and resist the temptation to get too elaborate. It’s not cheap to own both a home and a cottage.”
Berthelette adds there’s a plethora of other considerations that factor in to the purchase of a cottage.
“Of course, things like commute time and location are important, but there are other little things you have to consider, things an area specialist can make you aware of.”
Those “things” include whether a cottage is on a septic field or community system, and community building regulations and requirements.
Also, are you going to buy an existing cottage, or purchase a lot to build on?
“You don’t know what you don’t know until you make the decision to buy or build,” she says. “If you’re considering buying a cottage for your family, do your due diligence. Most importantly, hire a Realtor who’s an area specialist to walk you through the buying process step by step.”