Cottage country brokerage sees buyer inquiries explode
With many of us working remotely right now as a result of the pandemic, a home with more space and privacy is a tantalizing prospect. It’s also a fantasy that’s got a higher number of urbanite house hunters inquiring about cottage country properties.
“It doesn’t take much for us to explode,” said Max Hahne, License Partner and Private Office Advisor at Engel & Völkers Collingwood Muskoka. “You get 6.5 million people in the GTA and 200 of them pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, what have you got?’ We’re on overload.”
While most segments of the resale market have experienced substantial declines in sales this spring, Hahne said that he’s seen a rise in buyer inquiries since Easter in the rural areas he services. The demographics of interested buyers vary widely, from couples looking to accelerate their plans to retire, to those who’ve been able to secure remote employment that enables them to work from home outside of a downtown office. Fewer of these purchasers are casually looking — some of the calls Hahne has been receiving are from potential buyers making roadside calls from outside of his properties with printed MLS sheets in hand.
“Before we were getting phone calls and emails, and now we’re getting physical calls from people sitting outside of property, calling off my sign, ‘Hey, you’ve got a property on the Fourth Line here. Can you tell us about it?’’ said Hahne.
Online, Hahne said that buyer attention has also been growing. In early March, the brokerage listed a two-storey, five-bedroom property just off of the shore of Wasaga Beach, 943 Shore Lane. During a Facebook Live virtual open house, the detached residence racked up 35 live viewers, followed by over 800 views by the end of the weekend and one offer. Now, every Friday, Hahne says he plans to host a virtual open house.
While this time of the year has traditionally always been a hotbed for real estate sales, Hahne said that one cause of the increased attention in cottage country real estate has been a result of potential buyers spending more time online, looking for a distraction or making plans for the future. Outdoor recreation, restaurants, local culture and ample space have always been appealing factors for primary and secondary home shoppers in the Collingwood and Muskoa regions. With international vacation plans on hold, Hahne also said that affluent cottage country purchasers are opting for a staycation instead, either looking to buy or rent a luxury chalet for the season in lieu of a trip to Europe.
“I’m not surprised by the activity. It’s increased because people are at home, they have the time to look on their computer,” he said. “They’re looking at real estate and they’re starting to talk about it.”
There is no certainty as to what the market will look like come summer and fall, though Hahne predicts the surge of interest may continue into 2021, depending on whether a second wave of COVID-19 hits or not.
“We’re going to watch the numbers, we’re going to open up, and if the numbers start to climb, we’re going to be forced to shut down again,” he said. “That will be the key — what’s the second wave? If it comes at all, what will it look like and what will they come up with in the meantime to deal with symptoms?”