Photo: Aaron Carlson/Flickr

The two priciest Canadian real estate markets for cottages are on BC soil.

So suggests Re/Max’s 2018 Recreational Property Report, which is based on a national survey of Re/Max Canada realtors and spans waterfront, non-waterfront, water-access, and ski-in submarkets in 37 vacation destinations.

With a median price of $1,427,000, North Okanagan’s waterfront recreational property market was the most expensive in Canada, edging out Tofino’s waterfront segment, for which the median price was $1,400,000.

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The price of shoreline cottages in North Okanagan is partly due to severely limited supply, suggests Elton Ash, regional executive vice president for Re/Max of Western Canada.

“Most of the property has been developed that borders the lake… and so it’s very limited supply with strong demand,” Ash tells Livabl.

“The Okanagan Valley is Canada’s destination market,” he says. “People from across the country work their entire lives to retire in the Okanagan.”

Tofino has a number of unique attributes that feed demand for its oceanside cottages. “Tofino’s known for storm watching,” says Ash, adding, “It’s Canada’s surf capital as well.”

The area has become popular with American buyers, particularly those from the Pacific Northwest. “They view it as quite affordable given the currency exchange rate,” Ash explains.

The median price of a waterfront property in Tofino skyrocketed by 112 per cent on a year-over-year basis in 2018, while non-waterfront properties surged 43 per cent to $1,000,000. The median non-waterfront price in North Okanagan was half that.

The Re/Max survey typically focuses on cabins and cottages, rather than all properties, with some exceptions. In Cologna, for example, condos were included as many are owned for recreational purposes, Ash explains.

Pricing information is based on data covering the periods between July 2016 and June 2017 and July 2017 to June 2018, depending on the market.

Two waterfront Ontario markets, Barrie and Muskoka, were the only others to break the $1-million mark this year.

The national median price for recreational properties in all four submarkets was up 13 per cent annually, according to the Re/Max report. More than three quarters of regions surveyed reported year-over-year increases in the median price for 2018.

Investment from baby boomers is supporting recreational real estate markets from coast to coast, including in North Okanagan and Tofino.

Ash says those on the tail end of the “baby boom” generation have been the quickest to recover from the Great Recession and are now investing heavily in vacation homes.

Many also purchased real estate in the US Sun Belt during the depths of the financial crisis and are now cashing out as the stateside market has recovered.

“They’re selling those Sun Belt properties in Arizona, Florida, and California and then reinvesting their gains here in Canada in recreational property,” Ash notes.

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