Recreational property market on stable ground

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July 7, 2015 8:15 AM

Re/Max recently released its 2015 recreational property report, which looks at prices and trends in recreational property markets countrywide. According to the report, in markets where there are large enough sample sizes within housing types for yearly comparisons, all regions saw a year-over-year price appreciation and increases in sales.

Vern McClelland, associate broker with Re/Max of Lloydminster and a partner with the Midwest Group, says in the Lloydminster area, however, things are stable in that market but haven’t really changed much over the last five years.

“It’s like anything else here though. It’s impacted by whatever is going on in the oil patch and so there’s an aspect of the market where people are not buying the big ticket items and they’re kind of hunkering down,” he said.

Because of the reduction in hours many in the oil sector are seeing, that demographic of recreational property buyers is less active because the property is a “want, not a need.”

He says the other demographics at play, though, have always been there and continue buying despite the downturn.

One of these key groups of buyers are seniors who often sell their winter homes that are further south after their health becomes a concern. When travel is too much of an inconvenience, they come back to buy a spot closer to home.

“We’ve had a number of people buy recreational properties that are winter properties in the United States. And they kind of look at that like it’s a 10-year plan. If their health is good for 10 years, they’ll enjoy it,” said McClelland. “Once their health becomes a cause of concern then they sell that property typically then they come back locally.”

McClelland says there are four basic types of recreational properties.

The first one being bare lots, which are the best sellers, then year-round properties, “high-end” year-round properties and seasonal. The bare lots which seem to sell the best, especially around lakes, are places where buyers can park their RVs, so long as they intend to eventually build a cabin in the property.

The second property, the year-round cabin market, is the one McClelland says has likely been hit the hardest with the economic downturn of oil activity.

“Because there are a lot of people in their mid-30s to early-40s who would like to have a year-round property at the lake. Somewhere they can use their boat in the summer and Ski-Doo in the winter and ice fish. Those are the people that are out of the market primarily right now,” he said.

But there are other year-round cabin buyers in the market and these are the people that are looking at retirement, according to McClelland. These people get the idea that they might want to live year-round at the lake by selling their house in the city or community and using their lake cabin as their home base.

The other recreational buyers are those looking for seasonal properties and they are fairly active in the market right now as well.

“These are the people that are just looking for a summer home and they have a winter home somewhere (else). So they’re looking for somewhere to spend six months a year. Instead of buying, what they used to do is downsize to a condo in the city, but what they’re doing now is buying more of a seasonal property. They want kind of a three-season property at the lake,” he said.

“(It’s) not something you’d spend the winter in but they’re very comfortable in the summer, spring and fall. It’s quite affordable, not a lot of upkeep. They’re older properties and not that lavish, but they’re good enough to live in for the three seasons. So those people are in the market too.”

McClelland says there are recreational properties in the Lloydminster area anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million. This represents a good range and he says that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s not a “one size fits all” situation and what works for someone might not work someone else. With a wide range of prices, it’s just a matter of finding what works for the buyer.

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