Cottage sales along Lake Winnipeg on the rise after a slow start to the buying season

After a slow start this year, demand for recreational properties is on the rise along Lake Winnipeg, according to a new report.
The RE/MAX Recreational Property Report 2014 indicates that typical buyers on the west side of the lake are aged 35 to 55 and are looking for a second home for weekends and holidays.
On the east side of the lake, demand is particularly strong for less expensive properties as buyers are looking to relax on weekends and holidays.
“We see momentum in recreational property sales (across Western Canada), especially near urban centres where local residents have experienced several years of economic growth,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for RE/MAX of Western Canada. “This year we are seeing the effects of buyer confidence in some regions thanks to built-up equity gains and strong job markets across the West.”
Consumer confidence is high and motivated buyers are seeking out their dream vacation homes, with some markets reporting the most activity seen since the recession. A weaker Canadian dollar has also prompted buyers to remain in Canada rather than buying south of the border.
More buyers on the west side of Lake Winnipeg are taking advantage of affordable prices and healthy inventory numbers for homes that can be used during warmer months, according to the report.
“Prices (on the west side) start at approximately $70,000, while the average price ranges from $95,000 to $140,000 for three-season homes.
“Winterized properties for year-round use typically cost $375,000, but it is common to find listings priced over $400,000.”
The properties are commonly found in and around Gimli, Sandy Hook and Winnipeg Beach.
On the other side of the lake, properties start at $110,000 for a typical cottage away from the lake and increase to approximately $185,000 for a waterfront property.
A 1,900-square-foot, two-bedroom home near the beach at Lakeshore Heights recently sold for $400,000.
According to the report, the market on the east side of Lake Winnipeg is particularly healthy as a result of a handful of new developments that are helping to drive demand.
The most popular cottage country properties along the lake are found in Belair, Balsam Habour, Victoria Beach, Grand Beach, Lester Beach, Albert Beach, Patrica Beach, Hillside Beach, Gull Lake and Island Beach.
Residents taking advantage of properties on the east side can enjoy boating, hiking, swimming and golfing in the summer months, while snowmobiling in winter is extremely popular on the groomed trails in the region, including 23 kilometres of trails that cross Lake Winnipeg.
“It’s these year-round recreational activities that are attracting more buyers in their 30s and 40s, as well as a number of baby boomers close to retirement, according to the report.
On the west side of Lake Winnipeg, there has been an increase in inventory at Sandy Hook.
Discussion is now underway about installing a sewer system in the community, which is dominated by seasonal residents.
“Vacant land sales are also becoming increasingly popular in the region,” reported RE/MAX, “especially among hunters and those looking for recreational land.
“Other activities that draw people to the local communities include the Gimli Motorsport Dragway for car racing enthusiasts, Winnipeg Beach Boardwalk Days and the annual Teulon International Truck and Tractor Pull.
Islendingadagurinn, or the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, held during the August long weekend in Gimli, is one of the most popular ethnic festivals in the province, and is the second longest running such festival in Canada.
At a more accessible price point, first-time buyers can chose a recreational property half-way between the beach and the office, allowing for more space and access to activities that are not possible in the city, according to the report. Similarly, those who already own property in the city are looking to leverage built-up equity for a second property that they can enjoy with friends and family.
According to the report, the fact that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation no longer offers mortgage insurance on a second home has not affected cottage country sales.