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!