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7 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Cottage in the Wintertime

If you’re considering cottage ownership, here’s why you should start your search during the winter

A cottage is shown on a rocky shore with trees all around it and water in the foreground

In cottage country, winter is quiet. Everything slows down, including the real estate market. But even though cottage property listings drop to about 25 per cent of the spring and summer peak, the off-season is a great time to buy, says RE/MAX broker Jacqueline Pennington. Here are seven reasons why should you look for a cottage in winter:

  • Sellers are motivated
  • Fewer buyers are competing
  • Local agents are keen
  • There’s a hidden real estate market in winter
  • Property inspections happen year round
  • You can line up the best cottage contractors
  • Experience wintertime activities firsthand


Sellers are motivated

When a cottage is on the winter market, it usually means the owner needs to sell. Winter is a time when retired-to-the-cottage folks may decide the lake is too isolated, so they often put vacation properties up for sale. And when an owner dies, the estate’s heirs may want a quick sale, whatever the season.

Fewer buyers are competing

By avoiding the competition of the cottage-hunting crowds in spring and summer, you may be more likely to resist impulse decisions. In summer, buyers are tempted to skip important steps—like talking to neighbours to learn about the lake’s culture and local issues. Winter gives you an opportunity to do the proper research—including learning about all the ins and outs of cottage insurance—and not feel rushed to make a decision.

Local agents are keen

Realtors have more time in the off-season and they like winter buyers. “When you’re driving out from the city in the middle of winter, you’re serious,” says Pennington, who sells cottages and homes in the area around Rice Lake in Ontario. Even if you don’t find a cottage right away, you’ll build a stronger top-of-mind relationship with your agent.

There’s a hidden real estate market in winter

Many owners who plan to sell in the spring start contacting realtors in the fall and winter. Local, well-connected realtors can lead you to these not-yet-listed properties.

Property inspections happen year round

Cottage inspections are always valuable since owners often do their own repairs and renovations. It’s a myth, Pennington says, that an inspector can’t do a full inspection in winter. Even the septic system can be inspected. And while the shoreline may be covered by snow and ice, most cottage owners now have hundreds of photos you can look at.

You can line up the best cottage country contractors

When you buy in the spring, cottage-country contractors may already be booked up for the season. And if the cottage is a rental property, renters may already have booked the place, making scheduling a reno difficult. A winter purchase gives you a headstart with contractors and the flexibility to work with them.

Experience wintertime activities firsthand

It’s a safe bet that you’ll be able to drive to the cottage in summer. But if you enjoy winter, you can check out for yourself how easy—or difficult—it may be to navigate the roads when it’s snowy, and if the cottage is comfortble during colder months. But before you do, Pennington has some key advice for winter cottage-hunters: “Dress warmly. And wear good winter boots!

Get more with CAA

If you’re looking to buy a cottage and already have your home insurned with CAA, you can speak with a CAA Insurance expert to review CAA’s cottage insurance options, which can protect you from damage, as well as cover any watercraft used at your retreat. Visit caasco.com/insurance/home/cottage for a details.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Fertnig