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Saskatchewan buyers crowd into cottage country

June cottage sales were double the pace of a year earlier with multiple bids seen at some popular lakefront destinations
White Bear Lake, Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan cottage sales have risen dramatically in this pandemic summer,  according to the Saskatchewan Realtors Association.

Its CEO, Jason Yochim, said on August 10 that in the first seven months of 2020, only January and April saw a decline in sales.

“Every other month saw an increase year-over-year for that month in sales, with the greatest increase being in June with a 102 per cent increase in transactions in cottage country.”

“That’s 101 transactions in June of recreational property in the province,” he added. Last year, June saw 50.

“It’s quite impressive actually. We did anticipate post-restrictions from COVID that we would see a significant increase in activity. We had low interest rates, we had low inventory levels, and pent-up demand for COVID. And a lot of people were needing to either find a larger space or maybe a home with an office or something like that, because they're working from home,” he said.

“People are buying RVs, buying boats and jet skis, but they're also buying recreational property and probably looking at it as an investment as well.”

Yochim  added, “People have different levels of comfort, I guess, for social distancing and so forth. And the cottage is an opportunity to provide yourself a little more distancing away from maybe an urban centre. You have your family there and they can get out and do things, not driving you crazy in the house, and you can get your work done.”

These trends have been echoed by several realtors across Saskatchewan, but not all saw the same results.

North of Carlyle, the lake country includes Kenosee, Moose Mountain Provincial Park and White Bear. Ray Boutin, broker with Performance Realty of Carlyle, deals with Kenosee and Moose Mountain Provincial Park properties. He said, “There’s real action, real interest. I think COVID has created a desire for resort property.

“People are realizing that it’s a staycation scenario. They’re moving forward to make themselves comfortable in a staycation scenario.”

Boutin also said, “For one thing, Kenosee, and particularly Moose Mountain Provincial Park has always held its own in terms of value. And we are finding pricing is creeping up, as there’s more demand. Then you get into scenarios where there are multiple offers on the same property and that starts moving the prices up.”

He said some properties are going for above list price, some at list price and some below.

Leanne Sorenson’s Red Roof Realty Inc. is based at Kenosee. She focuses on property at Kenosee, Moose Mountain Provincial Park and White Bear.

From her perspective, Sorenson said, “We always have quite a high buyer demand for cottages. Some sales might have sold {this year] quicker than normal, in a few days, and for list price.”

She hasn’t seen many sales above list price this year. “I would say maybe people were willing to pay a little bit more. We saw prices go up in the cottage market, but not in year-round properties.”