Excitement is in the air as Muskoka enthusiasts and steamship lovers celebrate the completion of the dry docking process for the iconic Muskoka Steamships, Wenonah II and RMS Segwun. As of November 7th, the large lock at Port Carling has reopened, signaling the triumphant return of these historic vessels to the waters of Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph.
Dry Docking at the Port Carling Locks
The dry docking process, which takes place at the Port Carling Lock, ensures the safety and preservation of the Wenonah II and RMS Segwun. This essential maintenance, mandated by Transport Canada, involved thorough inspections, repairs, and care for every intricate detail of these floating pieces of history. The dry docking process offered a rare opportunity for enthusiasts to witness these majestic vessels out of the water, showcasing the craftsmanship that keeps them afloat.
Reopening of the Port Carling Lock
As of today (November 9th, 2023), the Port Carling large lock, situated on James Bartleman Island, has reopened, welcoming the Muskoka Steamships back to the lakes. This reopening not only marks the successful completion of the dry docking process but also signifies the beginning of a new chapter for these vessels as they embark on another season of journeys through the picturesque Muskoka Lakes.
Celebrating a Tradition of Elegance
The Wenonah II and RMS Segwun, with their rich histories dating back to the late 19th century, continue to be cherished symbols of Muskoka’s elegance and timeless allure. The completion of the dry docking process ensures that their legacy endures, captivating both locals and visitors with the magic of steamship travel.
With the large lock now reopened, Muskoka Steamship enthusiasts can look forward to upcoming cruises and experiences aboard these historic vessels. Whether it’s a leisurely trip on Lake Muskoka, a captivating journey on Lake Rosseau, or an exploration of the serene waters of Lake Joseph, the Muskoka Steamships promise unforgettable moments against the backdrop of Muskoka’s stunning scenery.
Boater? Here’s What to Expect
The large lock in Port Carling is now once again available for boaters to travel through. It will soon close for the season (date pending), but the small self-serve lock will still be available for boaters to travel through.
As the large lock at Port Carling swings open once again, Muskoka celebrates the successful completion of the dry docking process for the Wenonah II and RMS Segwun. These beloved steamships, meticulously cared for and preserved, are ready to set sail on another season of history and elegance. Join us in welcoming them back to the Muskoka Lakes and creating new memories aboard these timeless vessels. The journey continues, and the legacy of Muskoka Steamships sails on!
Muskoka, Ontario, is known for its breathtaking landscapes, pristine lakes, and a rich history of leisurely exploration. One iconic feature of Muskoka is the Muskoka Steamships, which include the Wenonah II and the RMS Segwun. These vintage vessels have been sailing the Muskoka Lakes for generations, offering a unique and timeless experience for both residents and visitors.
But have you ever wondered why these charming steamships periodically dry dock at the Port Carling lock? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of Muskoka Steamships, their significance, and the essential Transport Canada mandated maintenance and inspection that takes place at this strategic location.
Muskoka Steamships: A Legacy of Elegance
The Wenonah II and RMS Segwun are more than just boats; they are floating pieces of history. The RMS Segwun, for instance, was built in 1887, making it one of the oldest operating steamships in North America. These vessels offer an authentic glimpse into Muskoka’s past and provide an unforgettable experience to those who step aboard.
The Importance of the Port Carling Lock
To ensure the safety and longevity of these cherished vessels, Transport Canada mandates regular maintenance and inspection. The Port Carling lock, located on James Bartleman Island, where Lake Muskoka meets Lake Rosseau and connects to Lake Joseph, stands as the only place that can accommodate their specific needs. This strategic location serves as the indispensable hub for servicing and maintaining the Muskoka Steamships. This process should be completed around November 7th.
This also provides a great opportunity for inspection and maintenance of the large lock!
Port Carling Small Lock – Standing By!
During the ~ month long closure of the large lock, the small self-serve lock is still operational to allow passage between Lake Rosseau and Lake Muskoka.
A Rare Opportunity to Witness the Steamships Out of Water
The dry docking process at the Port Carling lock provides a remarkable and rare opportunity for enthusiasts and curious onlookers to witness these historic steamships out of the water. It’s a chance to see the intricate details of these vessels, which are typically hidden beneath the surface, and gain a deeper appreciation for their craftsmanship.
The mandated maintenance and inspection processes are critical to ensuring the safety and functionality of these historic vessels. They include checks on the steam engines, hull, and other essential components. These activities are conducted with the utmost care and expertise to preserve the charm and reliability of the steamships.
The Muskoka Steamships, Wenonah II and RMS Segwun, are living pieces of history that offer a timeless and elegant experience on the Muskoka Lakes. The Port Carling lock plays a vital role in preserving these iconic vessels by providing the only location that can accommodate their specific needs for Transport Canada mandated maintenance and inspection. As they continue to navigate the beautiful waters of Muskoka, the legacy of the steamships lives on, enchanting new generations with a taste of the past.
So, the next time you see the Muskoka Steamships cruising on Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, or Lake Joseph, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the care and maintenance that keeps these pieces of history afloat. Hopefully you had the chance to see them out of the water during the dry docking process, but if not don’t forget to check out our instagram for a closer look!
Every Wednesday I feature an antique wooden boat I’ve spotted in Muskoka on our Instagram account @cottageinmuskoka. Today’s feature was “The Jeffrey,” a 1939 Greavette rebuilt by Peter Breen in the early 90s after being rescued from a boathouse on Lake Nipissing during the previous decade. The Jeffrey now lives on East Bay in Lake Muskoka.
Muskoka is a destination known for beautiful scenery – rocky outcroppings, windswept pines, and lakes everywhere. While there are a TON of other reasons to visit ranging from world class dining to museums and antique wooden boats, you’ll likely want to visit when the weather in Muskoka is at its best for outdoor activities.
Fall Weather in Muskoka, Ontario
In Muskoka, Ontario, fall offers a captivating display of nature’s transition. As the summer warmth gradually fades, visitors can expect a breathtaking mosaic of crimson, gold, and amber foliage painting the landscape. Crisp, invigorating air sweeps through the region, carrying with it the earthy scent of fallen leaves. This is by far my favourite season for hiking in Muskoka – two fall favourites are Lions Lookout in Huntsville or Huckleberry Rock Trail in Muskoka Lakes. You can check those out along with lots of other fall activities here.
The daytime temperatures typically range from the mid-tens to low twenties in degrees Celsius, offering a comfortable climate for outdoor adventures like hiking, canoeing, and enjoying the region’s many lakes. However, as the season progresses, the nights grow cooler, often dipping into single digits or below zero overnight, so cozy sweaters and bonfires become inviting companions.
By the end of October the weather is quite chilly – it’s often snowing for Halloween, so make sure to pack appropriately!
Winter Weather in Muskoka, Ontario
Winter weather in Muskoka, Ontario transforms this picturesque region into a winter wonderland. You might not think of visiting Muskoka in the wintertime, but it’s well worth it if you’re an outdoor enthusiast!
Expect cold and snowy weather – it gets to -30c here sometimes! Muskoka weather often includes heavy snow due to our proximity to the Great Lakes. Make sure you pack your warmest clothing! You’ll need it to enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, skating, and fireside gatherings!
Spring Weather in Muskoka, Ontario
Spring weather in Muskoka ushers in a season of rejuvenation and transformation – though that transformation includes a bit of an ugly duckling period. In no way is Muskoka ever truly “ugly” in the slightest, but I would say this is the least picturesque time to visit this region. The trees are bare, and everything is a little muddier. However, watching the trees slowly start to bud is always enjoyable, as is the hunt for spring wildflowers which start appearing everywhere. The lake views are still gorgeous. This is a good time to hike before the bugs start to appear – pack a rain coat and some good boots or hiking shoes.
My favourite spring activity is stargazing on the dock at night before the bugs come out. Pleasantly cool temps, no bites, and the lakes aren’t lit up with summer cottage activity yet!
Summer Weather in Muskoka, Ontario
Here it is – the most popular season to visit Muskoka. Summer! The weather in Muskoka unfolds into a sun-soaked paradise of warm and sunny days, with temperatures often in the mid to high twenties or low thirties in degrees celsius. This is the perfect time to enjoy Muskoka’s plethora of lakeside activities – swimming, boating, paddling, sunbathing on the dock, swimming. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Our forests certainly aren’t lacking either – this is a great time for camping and hiking enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors. There’s nothing like a good dip in the lake after a long and sweaty hike to a spectacular view – and we have no shortage of spectacular views here.
There are occasional rain showers that provide relief from the summer heat, but sometimes we have long periods without – so please keep an eye on the fire rating and double check it before enjoying a bonfire.
In conclusion, Muskoka’s weather offers a delightful tapestry of seasons, each with its own unique charm. Whether you’re captivated by the colors of fall, enthralled by the winter wonderland, invigorated by the freshness of spring, or eager to bask in the sunny delights of summer, Muskoka has something for every outdoor enthusiast. Pack your bags (hopefully using the info above), and we’ll see you in Muskoka!
Muskoka’s waterfront economy creates over one billion dollars in income annually. It is necessary for the survival of local residents, as well providing substantial support to all tiers of government. The Muskoka Real Estate Market is a huge contributor to that waterfront economy.
Muskoka offers a unique respite for Greater Golden Horseshoe residents, along with celebrities and wealthy vacationers from around the world. The recent trend of telecommuting has allowed more cottage owners to live and work in Muskoka.
Close to 2,000 Muskoka lakes glitter in the sunlight and have been attracting people from around the world for hundreds of years, and indigenous people for thousands of years before that. Cottage owners and tourists bring much needed money with the summer boost in population. The permanent population is almost 67 thousand and the seasonal population is about 80 thousand, bumping the summer population up substantially.
The Muskoka market is unique due to the limited number of sales as compared to other markets, eg. the GTA, the vast variety of offerings, from small residential to multi-million dollar waterfront, and the consistent glut of buyers.
The topography of Muskoka and its waterways, and the very necessary restrictions on building, limit the number of waterfront homes that will ever be available. The buyer pool never wanes, but steadily increases.
The market may be going through a somewhat volatile period, but overall value in Muskoka remains stable. Big picture – steadily increasing prices over time, with the occasional market adjustment.
As we love to paraphrase – “they’re not making any more land”. Or lakes in the foreseeable future.
OVERALL MUSKOKA MARKET STATISTICS
As we head into the busy Muskoka summer market, we are seeing a somewhat dramatic increase in newly listed properties, as well as several properties that did not sell last fall or over the winter season. Price adjustments are once again becoming common, as sellers face the reality of a market that is becoming more balanced. We are seeing numbers that are similar to those in 2020. We expect values to even out over a five year period. Those sellers who are finding themselves in a position to sell after owning their property for a short time are going to feel the pinch. We are seeing some properties listed that were purchased at elevated prices during the pandemic. It is doubtful that they will resell at the same or similar price without having made any improvements.
The following numbers compare April 2023 with April 2022.
Overview of the current state of the Muskoka Real Estate Market:
Average price of a 2023 waterfront dwelling is $1,836,756.00 versus $2,199,562.00 in 2022, showing an adjustment of -16.5%.
Muskoka Lakes Township
Average price 2023 waterfront dwelling is $2,694,658.00 versus $3,515,088.00 in 2022, showing an adjustment of -23.3%.
Median price of 2023 waterfront dwelling is $1,749,000.00 versus $1,550,000.00 showing an adjustment of +12.8%.
Days on market this year average 25, last year average 26.
This is moving to a more balanced market.
Average price 2023 waterfront dwelling is $754,675.00.00 versus $869,250.00 in 2022, showing an adjustment of -13.2%
Median price of 2023 waterfront dwelling is $660,000.00 versus $830,500.00 showing an adjustment of -20.5%.
Days on market this year average 37, last year average 6.
Average price 2023 waterfront dwelling is $930,000.00 versus $2,524,120.00 in 2022, showing an adjustment of -63% ** (please see below for explanation)
Median price of 2023 waterfront dwelling is $930,000.00 versus $1,350,000.00 showing an adjustment of -31.1%.
Days on market this year average 22, last year average 18.
Average price 2023 waterfront dwelling is $861,000.00 versus $779,861.00 in 2022, showing an adjustment of +10.4%.
Median price of 2023 waterfront dwelling is $780,000.00 versus $260,000.00 showing an adjustment of +200%.
Days on market this year average 94, last year average 23.
Gravenhurst’s -63% is alarming until you realize that this is based on two sales only, and therefore not statistically significant.
To summarize, sale prices are down slightly overall and price adjustments are becoming more common.
Your local, experienced, competent realtor has access to individual, specific, sold listings to help you determine value as you buy and sell Muskoka real estate.
Nestled on the shore of Lake Rosseau in the heart of Ontario’s esteemed Muskoka region, a contentious development has emerged that is raising concerns among many local residents and environmentalists. In this first part of our series, we’ll delve into the concept and location of the Legacy Cottages project, aiming to provide an informative overview while remaining objective.
In later parts we will discuss the bumps in the road the developers and the Township of Muskoka Lakes faced along the way, Minett’s redesignation to a “Resort Village,” and some of the developer’s other projects.
Understanding the Legacy Cottages Project:
Legacy Cottages, spearheaded by the Rosseau Group, is a development located along the shores of Lake Rosseau, one of the most prestigious lakes in Muskoka. The project aimed to create a modern and affordable retreat for individuals seeking to enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility of the region, as well as promote increased tourism. This area of Lake Rosseau is in the village of Minett, which is located in the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
Legacy Cottages kicked up a lot of debate, especially regarding density concerns and potential environmental impact on the water quality and shoreline of Lake Rosseau. The project consists of 43 units, 9 docks, and a boathouse on 470 feet of shared shoreline – that’s approximately 11 feet of shoreline per cottage. It is located on the site of the old Lakeside Lodge, which is located next to Clevelands House Resort.
This high density of development was allowed due to the District planners deciding that the use of a two week rental pool qualified Legacy Cottages as commercial rather than residential. We’ll talk more about this when we talk about Minett’s redesignation to a “Resort Village” and the 22 million dollar lawsuit filed by the developers against the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
Critics of the Legacy Cottages project raise valid concerns about its potential environmental impact. The region’s lakes and forests are sensitive ecosystems that play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, water quality, and overall ecological balance.
The proposed location of the Legacy Cottages project is a matter of concern for many. Lake Rosseau has already faced some water quality concerns attributed to the presence of other resorts and developments – namely an excess of certain nutrients such as phosphorus.
Phosphorus is the nutrient that controls algal growth in most lakes in Ontario, which means an excess in phosphorus can lead to an algal bloom. While the natural addition of phosphorus into a lake via sediment and precipitation is necessary and nothing to be concerned about, excess phosphorus due to human inputs are of concern. Namely, septic system seepage and surface runoff from lawn fertilizer and agricultural sources. Not only can something like an algal bloom be detrimental to the ecology of the lake, it can reduce the attractiveness of the lake for tourism.
There are also other environmental concerns like the construction of shoreline structures such as docks, lack of shoreline buffer zone, the use of retaining walls, an increase in boat traffic, and an overall increase of human activity in the area. We will delve deeper into the environmental concerns surrounding the project (including a look at the water quality of Lake Rosseau and Wallace Bay) in a future part of this series, and examine if they could lead to the degradation of the surrounding natural environment.
Objectives of the Legacy Cottages Project:
Proponents of the Legacy Cottages project argue that it aims to enhance the accessibility of Muskoka’s beauty to a wider audience while contributing to the local economy through increased tourism and development. Buying a cottage in Muskoka, sometimes referred to as the “Hamptons of the North” can be extremely expensive. With units at Legacy starting at $699,000, buying a cottage there allows access to one of Muskoka’s most prestigious lakes at a far more affordable price point.
In this first part of our series exploring the Legacy Cottages project, we have introduced the concept, location, and objectives behind this contentious development in Muskoka. While some argue that the project presents an opportunity for modernization and economic growth, others express concerns about its potential impact on the area’s fragile ecosystem. It must be emphasized that the developers have not broken any laws, and while I may not agree with the rules – they have followed them.
In the next installment, we will delve deeper into the re-designation of Minett to a “Resort Village,” before turning our attention to a deeper dive on the environmental considerations surrounding the Legacy Cottages project for Part 3. This will include a look at potential alternatives or mitigations that could strike a balance between development and conservation.
Part 4 will likely cover the lawsuit, with Part 5 being about the Rosseau Group and some other projects they’ve been involved with (including their current project – Cherokee Lane on the Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst).
Stay tuned for a comprehensive analysis of this ongoing discussion and its implications for Muskoka’s future.
The Bracebridge Falls are the largest of 3 major waterfalls in Bracebridge (Bracebridge Falls, Wilson’s Falls, and High Falls). There are also a number of smaller waterfalls in Bracebridge which I will write about in a future blog post. If you hike along the Trans Canada Trail in Bracebridge you can view five waterfalls in one day!
This is where the last bit of the North Branch of the Muskoka River meets up with the South Branch of the Muskoka River, before continuing on into Lake Muskoka. The Bracebridge Falls are part of the Muskoka River Watershed, which has its headwaters in Algonquin Park and ends at Georgian Bay.
There are a couple spots you can view Silver Bridge and the Falls from. The best is by heading down Wharf Road to park at Bay Park (which is free). There is a generating station at the base of the falls with a platform in front that you can stand on. This is by far the best view of the falls! I went during the 2023 Muskoka Flood and it was an amazing experience – the waterfall coming toward you while the water under your feet moves in the other direction makes you feel like you’re about to be pulled in. A bit scary, but very cool!
Or, take the historic walk, which you can access from Bay Park. Just follow the 10 plaques – each marks a place of interest along the route.
Bay Park was also an… interesting experience during the 2023 Muskoka Flood. I will upload pictures this week and link them here.
You can view videos of the Bracebridge Falls on my personal instagram account here, or on our Cottage in Muskoka account here.
There are a few things that contribute to flooding in Muskoka, which we mostly experience along the Muskoka River Watershed – one of four watersheds in Muskoka. This watershed includes the Muskoka River, Moon River, Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph, among others.
The first major factor is where we’ve built cottages and homes. Many of the builds in the areas that experience the most flooding in Muskoka (Muskoka River, Lake Muskoka, and Moon River) are built on floodplains. In fact, builders on Lake Muskoka have started to build with that in mind… and not just by raising docks and boathouses! I saw a post made by Corbin Patten Designs on Instagram recently where they had included a raised section in a boathouse to keep a beer fridge safe during future floods.
If you don’t know what a floodplain is, it’s an area adjacent to a river or other watercourse that is susceptible to flooding. Floodplains are typically low-lying and flat, making them ideal for the slow accumulation of water during periods of high precipitation or snow melt. While these areas provide important ecological functions like natural flood control, water purification, and habitat for fish and wildlife, unwittingly building on a floodplain can be disastrous. Ensure that you are checking floodplain maps before you build or buy!
Flooding in Muskoka can be caused by a variety of environmental factors, including the amount of snow pack here and in Algonquin, the speed of thaw, and the level of precipitation. The Muskoka River watershed has its headwaters in Algonquin, and the amount of snowpack there significantly affects flooding here. When there is an above average amount of snow pack in Algonquin, it can lead to a larger volume of water entering Muskoka’s waterways during the spring thaw. The speed of thaw is also crucial in determining the severity of flooding in Muskoka. If temperatures rise too quickly, the snow and ice can melt too rapidly, overwhelming the local waterways and causing flooding. Finally, the amount of precipitation during the spring months can also contribute to flooding, as heavy rains can cause rivers and lakes to overflow their banks. All of these factors must be taken into account when predicting and preparing for potential flooding events in Muskoka.
Limitations to MNRF control
Okay, and here’s a reason that not many people seem to know… the dams along the Muskoka River Watershed are NOT flood control structures! The MNRF can draw down water to prepare for potential flooding, but beyond a certain point there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Here’s an excerpt from the 2019 Ontario Flood Report:
“It must be emphasised that dams in central Ontario, including those in the Muskoka River watershed, are not flood control structures. Flood control structures require a large lake or reservoir and associated drawdown capacity to store or hold back flood waters. Analyses have confirmed that lakes in the Muskoka River watershed that are regulated by dams have a limited capacity to drawdown water to affect flooding, and during periods of large volume rapid runoff, the available drawdown capacity is insufficient to reduce peak flood water levels. In this sense, the greater the magnitude of the flood event, the less ability the MNRF has on affecting or mitigating flooding through operation of its dams. Once the dams are fully open, the MNRF does not have the ability to increase the rate of flow, as it is then based on the amount of water in the system and the natural rate of flow and elevation as it moves through the wide-open dam sluice ways.“
There’s also a limit to how much they can draw down the water levels which has nothing to do with the dams, and more to do with the creatures we share Muskoka’s waterways with. Drawing down water levels can have a significant impact on lake trout spawning. Lake trout are a cold-water fish species that require specific water temperature and oxygen levels to successfully spawn.
In many cases, lake trout will spawn in shallower water nearer to the shoreline than their usual habitat. However, if water levels are drawn down too quickly or too far, the shallow spawning beds may become exposed to the air, causing the eggs to dry out and die. Additionally, sudden changes in water levels can cause currents and turbulence that can dislodge the eggs from the spawning beds, reducing the chances of successful hatching and survival. As such, water managers must carefully consider the impact of drawing down water levels on lake trout spawning and take steps to mitigate any negative effects.
So, what can we do about flooding in Muskoka?
Well, here’s what the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry can do:
Muskoka River Water Management Plan (MRWMP)
The MNRF is responsible for managing the water resources in Muskoka and has developed a comprehensive water management plan to mitigate the impact of flooding events and protect the local ecosystem.
The MNRF also works with other government agencies, local municipalities, and community groups to develop and implement best practices for managing water resources in the region. These practices include promoting the use of permeable surfaces to reduce runoff, and restoring wetlands to provide natural flood control. Overall, the MNRF’s water management plan aims to balance the needs of the local ecosystem with the social and economic benefits of water use in the region.
And as for us?
Expect flooding if you cottage or live in certain areas – in particular the Muskoka River, Lake Muskoka, and Moon River, or on any floodplain. Prepare your property, dock, and boathouse when you close your cottage in the winter. Sign up for our newsletter – you’ll be reminded when the time comes, and you’ll be shown exactly how to close your cottage and prepare for potential spring flooding. I’ll be sure to add an additional post about bracing for a flood before the spring 2024 flood season in Muskoka.
Use a local real estate agent
Not only do we know what areas flood (and see it firsthand), we’ll make sure to review floodplain maps as part of our due diligence – something that a Toronto real estate agent wouldn’t necessarily think to do. I would not be the first person you would ask about problematic condo buildings in the city or the areas of Toronto with the best walkability, and they should not be your trusted source for information about Muskoka.
Continue monitoring the situation when the water level begins to decline
The first sign of receding water levels is not the time to stop monitoring the situation.
First of all, high levels of precipitation, additional snowpack melting and adding water to the watershed, and dams flows being reduced to relieve flooding further down the watershed can all cause the levels to start rising again.
But here’s the bit everyone seems to forget – let’s say the water level was high enough that your boat is floating around in your boathouse. I’m sure you’ve secured it carefully, and removed anything that could damage it. But what happens when the water level drops? You need to make sure the boat makes it back into the slip. Not only can you damage your boat and the boathouse, but how would you ever move it again if it ends up out of the water? A jetski could be put back in the water with help from a few friends… good luck doing that with a boat!
You also need to watch the water levels if you’ve tied your boat off somewhere higher up in the boathouse. Obviously you can’t just make the ropes long enough to compensate, because you don’t want your boat smashing around in there. But what happens if you’ve tied it normally and the water level goes down beyond the length of rope you’ve used? I’ll tell you what – damage! Time to practice your sailing knots. We’ll teach you in our flood coverage if the water level starts to get high enough.
You can check current flood information (warnings and watches by area) from the Government of Ontario here.
We posted daily flood update stories on our Instagram this year, with up-to-date photos and location information, plus alerts about flood warnings, updates from the township, real time water level graphs from multiple water bodies in Muskoka, and other relevant info. We also stopped by a number of cottages to check on them for their owners. Follow us on instagram here to be kept up-to-date about flooding in Muskoka next time around.
You have decided that this is the year. It’s all about buying a building lot in Muskoka. Now is the time to purchase that Muskoka land and realize all your plans and dreams to build! But what do you need to know? How can you protect your investment? What comes first?
WHAT DO I DO?
Here’s a short list of order of priorities:
Choose the area(s) you are interested in. Have a look at a Muskoka map. Read about Muskoka online. Are you considering a cottage waterfront property on the Big Three – Lake Joseph, Lake Rosseau or Lake Muskoka? Alternatively are you considering an off the grid, off the water property near Algonquin Park? A small lot in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville or one of the smaller towns? Consider length of drive, topography and ease of access.
Choose your REALTOR. This is a very important step. Do you know any agents? Do you have an agent in your area that you have used? Ask them if they can refer you to someone they know and respect in Muskoka. This is very important. You want a REALTOR who knows the area and who you can trust. This is a big investment in your future and you need the proper support. Don’t be afraid to speak to several Muskoka real estate agents. Ask about their area of expertise. An agent who specializes in homes in downtown Gravenhurst is not the same as a REALTOR who sells waterfront property on Lake Rosseau. You’ll get a feel for who is the right one for you.
Discuss scoping out the area with your REALTOR. Can she suggest drives/areas to visit to make sure that you love the area as much in person as you do online. You could arrange to see some properties at the same time as you are getting a general sense of the area.
If you will be financing the lot, speak with your mortgage broker. If you do not have a great mortgage broker, ask your Muskoka agent to suggest one or two. This is another relationship that you will rely on, so you need to have a competent person who knows the ins and outs of lending, and realizes the unique aspects of borrowing in Muskoka, as well as being a person with whom you “click”. Access to the lot will be key here, as well as many other Muskoka-centric issues. Remember it’s a big investment. No question is too small. Our goal is to manifest profoundly beneficial outcomes to buyers and sellers of real estate in Muskoka. It is so important to us that we made it our (Cottage in Muskoka) Mission Statement. Give your purchase the respect it deserves and make sure everyone else involved does too.
If you are not looking for a mortgage, but plan to use equity in your current home, contact your favourite lender and put the wheels in motion to free up the cash. Finding your dream property is not the time to start arranging financing. Borrowing for vacant land can sometimes be trickier than borrowing for a house/cottage.
Choose a property and fall in love with the land. Have your REALTOR secure the property for you, with a Conditional Offer. A due diligence clause will give you time to find out important details about the property. Too often buyers want to do their research and then make an offer and by the time they have their ducks in a row, the property is gone. Your REALTOR will be able to give you information about zoning and what the restrictions are. The township will have some rules about where on the lot and what you are allowed to build. You’ll want to know what is nearby, particularly if it could have a negative impact. Like a dump or if it is on flood land, to name just a couple of issues. You will also want to know if a site plan is needed, who will do that for you and what the approximate cost will be. There will also be building permit fees. Your Muskoka REALTOR will handle all of this for you.
Consider as many scenarios as you can. Do you want to build in a few years (is this for a second home/cottage?). Will the township allow you to bring a trailer to the property to enjoy it for a period of time before you build? Or did you want to have a trailer there permanently and resell in years to come? Do you want to build a traditional structure? A tiny home? A container home? (some jurisdictions don’t allow these yet).
Was the property recently subdivided? Will you be responsible for paying HST? Your Muskoka REALTOR will help you with advice on this. Is the land severable? Would you want to go through the process of doing that, either right away or someday? This would be good to know for building placement as well as investment income.
Buying property in Muskoka can be a lot of fun, and a very rewarding endeavour financially. Imagine being able to actually physically enjoy your investment. Other than taking your money out of your investments and throwing it around your living room and rolling in it, this is the only way to actually enjoy your speculation in a very real way. Talk about making memories!
We have seen some changes in the Muskoka real estate waterfront market since May/June of 2022. Muskoka cottage sales seem more familiar – aka “normal.” There are very few frantic bidding wars.
Days on Market are longer – averaging 14 for June versus 10 for May. It is still a seller’s market.
Overall there are fewer listings on the market, but just slightly. We had 604 new listings in June. May added 702 listings. Compare that to June 2021 with 645 new listings and May 2021 with 674 new listings.
The median price across the board for June 2022 was $715,000.00 compared to a median price of $650,000.00 in June of 2021. May median price was $744,590.00 in 2022 and 656,000.00 in 2021.
Interest rates are expected to rise 75 basis points on July 13. The government wants to control inflation as a priority. Curbing record 7.7% inflation is key to a healthy economy. As important as that is, fewer buyers could qualify for mortgages, thus slowing real estate sales.
Bank of Canada is expected to adjust the size of its hikes to 25 basis point increments or lower in October and December, taking the rate to 3.25% by year-end.
The BoC is expected to pause on rate increases throughout next year even as the Fed carries on raising rates. Bank of Canada predicted inflation would ease to 2.5% in late 2023, putting more money in buyer’s pockets and freeing up cash flow to accommodate cottage purchases, and the gas to get to them.
The housing market, meanwhile, has already shown signs of a rapid slowdown, albeit after eye-watering double-digit rises during the past two years during the pandemic.
“There has been some offset from the large pile of savings accumulated during the pandemic and that’s kind of cushioning the inflation pain,” said Sal Guatieri, director and senior economist at BMO.
“But eventually that will wear off and we will see high inflation curbing spending even more dramatically in the year ahead.”
We are cautiously optimistic that the rise in interest rates will not slow the cottage sales market. There is a very large buyer pool still waiting for their chance on a relatively small amount of inventory.
A recent survey showed a median 35% chance of recession within a year. It is predicted to rise to 40% over the next two years.
We have posted a file of the relevant stats for overall waterfront market activity and waterfront market activity by location below, for our more analytically minded friends.
If you’re looking for non-waterfront stats or anything else that we haven’t included please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We are able to provide statistics at any level of detail that you like. We’ll be happy to send them to you!
So that’s it – that’s what’s happening in the Muskoka real estate market July 2022.