Mother and father sitting on a dock with their daughter and son who are fishing, smiling

Competition in the cottage market remains very high, often pushing buyers to compromise more than they would like and giving them little time to educate themselves on the property and surrounding community. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a purchase and this often leads to buyers downplaying their must-haves or overlooking them altogether.

According to a panel of more than 275 Royal LePage recreational property experts from across Canada, the most overlooked important priority is cell phone reception and internet speed (33.1%), followed by understanding that owning a cottage on the water does not always mean owning the waterfront (15.7%) and knowing which water source is used in the area such as lake water or well water (12.9%).

“There are so many priorities to consider when shopping for a recreational property. Most people buy a cottage because they want a place to escape from their busy lives; somewhere peaceful and serene,” said Pauline Aunger, real estate broker, Royal LePage Advantage Real Estate, in Smiths Falls, Ontario. “While privacy is important, you want to make sure you’re not in an area so remote that you can’t make a phone call in an emergency. Today more than ever, the ability to stay connected online is so important; be it for remote work, connecting with family and friends, or catching up on the latest Netflix series.”

Ranking fourth on the list was knowing the rules about short-term and/or long-term rentals (8.5%). While not making the top three, this mistake could put a buyer in a very difficult situation if they factored rental income into their budget to maintain and/or pay-off the mortgage.

Anne Léger, real estate broker, Royal LePage Humania in the Laurentians, Quebec, added that first-time recreational property buyers that live in cities are often unaware of the maintenance that comes with a secondary property, and more specifically septic installations.

“The system’s age, compliance, and type can influence future expenses. Very few new buyers know that the size of the system dictates the number of bedrooms the property should have to be compliant with municipal rules,” said Léger.

Check out the top ten overlooked factors when purchasing a cottage and make them part of your priority checklist:

1Quality of cell phone reception and internet in and around the property.33.1%
2Understanding that owning a cottage on the water does not always mean owning the waterfront.15.7%
3Knowing which water source is used in the area (i.e. lake water, well water).12.9%
4Knowing the rules about short-term and/or long-term rentals (i.e. renting out your property on airBnB).8.5%
5Seasonality of the property and maintenance involved. (If a property is winterized, it needs to be heated even when empty. If it is not usable in winter, it needs to be properly closed for the season.)8.1%
6Understanding the difference between a holding tank and a septic system.7.3%
7Understanding the municipality’s regulations on additions and renovations.5.6%
8Garbage and recycling removal procedures (for example, if garbage has to be taken home or to a dump, or if tags need to be purchased).4.8%
9Local regulations surrounding motorized vehicles in the water.2.4%
10Snow removal from country roads leading to the property in winter. 1.6%