Cabin Fever? Mortgaging for Recreation Properties

All across Canada we’re seeing the recreational property market continue to go through the cedarshingled roof. Industry experts predict another year in which buyers seeking a property may outnumber the recreational properties available. The boomers are in their peak income years and have benefited from an unprecedented climb in the valuations on their primary homes. And across the country, they’re scouring every lake, ocean beach and ski slope – looking for the perfect getaway.

When cottages first became the vogue around the turn of the last century, those getaways were generally charmingly rustic structures designed to give their owners a taste of a simpler way of life for the summer season. But today, recreational property markets are reporting a stunning increase in teardowns and renovations – as rustic simplicity gives way to luxury accommodations. Today’s recreational property mix covers the gamut from luxury waterfront homes, resort-style condominiums, ski chalets and timeshare properties. Many of the traditional-style cottages are still standing, of course… and they sell for top dollar

on the rare occasions that they actually come on the market.

But more and more average Canadians have cabin fever: they’re looking for a recreational property both as an investment and an enhancement to their own lifestyles. And for many, the goal is achievable: we’ve seen historically low mortgage rates over the last few years – and greater affordability for ordinary Canadians. But financing a recreational property is more challenging than funding a principal residence. Traditional lending institutions typically find second homes a much less desirable investment. Purchasers are often advised to take out an equity loan or a second mortgage on their principal residence in order to buy the recreation property.

But the lending landscape has been changing in the past few years. We are beginning to see that some lenders have developed flexible new mortgage products and policies that are specifically designed for the recreational property market. The upshot is that Canadians who are longing for that cottage or condo may now be able to bypass conventional lending criteria – opening the door to ownership much sooner than they imagined. Recreational property mortgages are available for owner-occupied second properties, including winterized and nonwinterized, with as little as 15 per cent down for purchasers with good credit. And in some cases, 10 per cent down could get you into the recreational property market if you qualify. Typically, the vacation property needs to be located in a known vacation area, have approved plumbing, and year round access.

And do your homework. In today’s heated recreational property market, some purchasers have an edge in the marketplace because they are cash buyers. To level the playing field, buyers who are financing their purchase may want to consider talking to a professional to determine approximately how much they qualify for before launching their search.

For some, recreational property is an attractive investment, with rentals providing an extra income stream. But the allure is usually more emotional: a cottage or condo often becomes a symbolic centre for family life, where families come together at all ages and stages in their lives to share common activities and traditions.

If you’re dreaming of your own beach sunset or the perfect ski slope at your door, begin with a conversation with a mortgage professional. Your own getaway could be closer than you think!