Retiring Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers drive the recreational property market
New speculation tax serves as a cold shower for would-be B.C. investors
TORONTO, June 6, 2018 – According to a cross-Canada survey of Royal LePage’s recreational property specialists, the nation’s recreational market is primed for healthy single-digit growth in 2018, as buyers across the land flock to lakes and streams, and the seaside and mountain tops, with an eye towards retirement or a secondary home to raise children. Meanwhile, recreational property values in British Columbia are expected to dip slightly, as the new speculation tax on secondary residences impedes price growth and encourages Albertans, one of largest cohorts of recreational purchasers in the region, to adjust their search and find recreational homes elsewhere.
Looking ahead to the end of the summer market, the price of a recreational property in Canada is forecast to increase 5.8 per cent year-over-year to $467,764. When broken out, the majority of provinces are also forecast to witness strong price growth, with Ontario and Alberta leading the way, rising 10.4 per cent and 8.9 per cent year-over-year to $535,885 and $770,100, respectively. Only three regions are expected to witness recreational home values depreciate, with prices in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia forecast to decline by 7.5 per cent and 2.8 per cent to $228,754 and $531,333, respectively, while Manitoba dips but essentially remains flat with a 0.9 per cent decline to $230,833 over the same period.
"Driven by the strength of the nation’s economy, Canada’s recreational real estate market is set to experience another strong year," said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. "While home values and sales activity in Canada’s largest urban markets have softened, demand for recreational properties remains robust in most regions. The search for that perfect summer getaway continues unabated."
When asked, 42.0 per cent of recreational property specialists surveyed believed that sales activity would increase in their region by the end of the cottage season compared to the same period in 2017. However, the uptick in demand found within the regions will not directly translate into a decline in supply, with many respondents in every province, aside from Ontario, forecasting a rise in inventory when compared to 2017 (48.2 per cent).
This trend will be highly visible in British Columbia, where the new speculation tax, which aims to limit property purchases by those who primarily live outside of the province, will cause many existing homeowners to sell their secondary homes. As a result, prices within the region are predicted to decline slightly during the summer season, despite 40.0 per cent of recreational property specialists forecasting that sales would rise. This is due in part to a predicted rise in supply (47.5 per cent), as many secondary homeowners living abroad sell their properties to avoid the annual tax. Moreover, even though sales are predicted to increase, 55.0 per cent of respondents within the province believe that the policies will weaken momentum within the region and keep sales activity from reaching its true potential, while 40.0 per cent also stated that the new policies would impact prices.
"With Canada’s fastest growing economy, British Columbia’s vast and varied recreational regions might be expected to lead the country," continued Soper. "That will not be the case in the near-term as new taxes aimed specifically at recreational property owners are expected to weaken markets across the province, driving would-be purchasers to invest elsewhere. While these policies were billed as a move to impede speculation and foreign investment, international purchasers make up a very small portion of the recreational market, and the dreaded ‘house flippers’ are an urban phenomenon."
Albertans, who are one of the largest and most tenured cohorts of buyers in British Columbia’s recreational property market, are expected to increasingly look to their own province for secondary vacation properties, driving prices higher in popular regions like Canmore, and west of Calgary in the Rocky Mountains.
Meanwhile, with a forecast aggregate price of $290,271, Quebec’s recreational market is expected to witness healthy growth, as the province’s robust economy draws many purchasers from major city centres into more rural regions. According to the survey, 43.8 per cent of respondents in Quebec believe that the number of buyers looking to acquire a recreational property as their first home will increase this year when compared to last.
"We believe strongly in the future of Quebec’s recreational property market," added Soper. "With an expanding economy providing more disposable family income, we expect regions like Mont-Tremblant to enjoy strong chalet sales volumes and appreciating property values."
Nationally, 73.5 per cent of recreational property specialists surveyed stated that foreign ownership accounts for less than 5.0 per cent of the recreational market. When broken out by region, the highest agreement came from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with over 80.0 per cent of respondents in each market stating that international purchases make up less than 5.0 per cent of sales (80.0 per cent, 81.3 per cent, 88.9 per cent and 85.7 per cent, respectively). The lowest agreement found within the country came from Atlantic Canada, where 40.0 per cent of respondents believed that international purchases accounted for less than 5.0 per cent of the total market, while a further 40.0 per cent believed that it was in the range of 5.0 to 10.0 per cent.
According to the survey, 59.0 per cent of respondents stated that Generation Xers (36 to 51 years old) are the preeminent purchasers of recreational properties in Canada. These purchasers will typically search for property less than two hours away from their primary residence (67.5 per cent) for its associated lifestyle (84.5 per cent) or as a potential retirement home (49.5 per cent). When looking to sell, respondents largely agreed that most secondary homeowners claimed that they were getting older (80.0 per cent), couldn’t keep up with the maintenance of the property (48.5 per cent) and that the home was ultimately going unused (67.5 per cent). However, despite this, over two-thirds of respondents (68.5 per cent) have witnessed a growing trend in Baby Boomers and prospective retirees purchasing recreational properties with the intention of using them as their primary residence, with many agreeing that sales activity attributed to this cohort will rise throughout the remainder of the year (43.0 per cent).
"As Canada’s generational shift continues, prospective recreational property purchasers are coming from both the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers," said Soper. "The market is being driven both by those in search of the retirement home of their dreams, and as a place to introduce children to the wonder of the world’s largest and most pristine collection of wilderness areas. Not only do these families view recreational property as a good investment due to its relative affordability and history of steady appreciation in value, but also as a means to start the next exciting chapter of their life."
In Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, the aggregate price of a recreational property is forecast to decline 2.8 per cent year-over-year by the end of September, 2018, despite many purchasers looking to cash in on their primary residences and move to more rural pastures. This is primarily a result of the new B.C. government’s speculation tax, which will take many out-of-province buyers out of the impacted markets. Recreational property values, which now surpass half a million dollars on average, will also likely contribute to the forecasted decline, as prospective purchasers find it difficult to carry both a primary and secondary residence within the province.
"In British Columbia, high residential home prices have caused many to venture farther out of the city and get creative with their home purchases," said Adil Dinani, real estate advisor, Royal LePage West Real Estate Services. "While activity will continue to flourish in areas that are exempted from the new tax, like the Gulf Islands, regions that are not will stagnate, especially when farther away from the majority of city centres."
The province of Alberta is home to the highest recreational property prices in the country. With prices forecast to rise by 8.9 per cent year-over-year to $770,100, the province leads all other jurisdictions by over $200,000, and will likely continue to into the future thanks in part to many prospective purchasers returning home to look for a recreational property after the implementation of British Columbia’s speculation tax.
"Unlike British Columbia or Ontario, where you’re essentially a stone’s throw away from a lake at all times, Alberta has a very limited amount of ‘traditional’ recreational markets," said Tom Shearer, broker and owner, Royal LePage Noralta Real Estate. "This has created a significant premium on all recreational properties within the province, and with more locals looking in their own backyard, demand and pricing will continue to grow."
In Saskatchewan, recreational home values are projected to remain relatively flat, rising 0.7 per cent year-over-year to $304,750 by the end of the summer market. Within the region, supply is expected to rise (66.7 per cent). Sentiment around sales activity however, remains mixed with 55.6 per cent of recreational property specialists stating that it will be comparable to last year, while 44.4 per cent believe it will dip slightly.
"While Saskatchewan’s economy, and more specifically commodity prices, continue to improve, people are still conscientious when it comes to discretionary purchases," said Mike Duggleby, broker and owner, Royal LePage Regina Realty. "Yet, with even more properties expected to come on the market this year while prices remain relatively low, this may be the best time to capitalize and venture into recreational home ownership."
When looking at Manitoba, recreational property prices are forecast to remain relatively flat in 2018, dipping 0.9 per cent year-over-year to $230,833 by the end of September 2018. While the majority of recreational specialists within the province expect sales to remain comparable to last year (57.1 per cent), the same number of respondents forecast a rise in supply that is projected to limit price appreciation.
"Despite a strong economy and a low unemployment rate, prices across the province’s recreational property market will likely stay flat this year as a result of new mortgage regulations having impacted purchasing power," said Michael Froese, managing partner, Royal LePage Prime Real Estate. "Even though Manitoba is home to some of the most affordable recreational properties in the country, and has a number of unique programs encouraging secondary homeownership, the new stress test may make many purchasers think twice about taking on additional debt, limiting the great potential found within the market this year."
Meanwhile, in Ontario, recreational property prices are set to soar in 2018, rising 10.4 per cent to $535,885 when compared to the same time last year. According to recreational property specialists surveyed, an expected decrease in inventory levels (52.3 per cent) and an increase in sales activity (51.2 per cent) will place significant strain on markets across the province. Overall, 80.2 per cent of respondents surveyed noted that a growing number of Baby Boomers have ventured into markets across Ontario, looking to purchase a recreational property and use it as their primary residence. As a result, sales from this cohort are expected to rise throughout the year (47.7 per cent).
"Baby Boomers from across the Golden Horseshoe continue to venture into recreational property markets, looking to cash in on their pre-existing home values, and find extremely affordable properties that can serve them throughout retirement," said Tom Storey, sales representative, Royal LePage Signature Realty. "This trend will likely persist for the next few years, pushing prices higher as wealth continues to leave the cities and find its way into more secluded and rural communities."
Recreational property prices in Quebec are forecast to witness healthy growth in 2018, rising 2.8 per cent year-over-year to $290,271 by the end of the summer market. Home to some of the most affordable properties and novel locations, especially when factoring in local amenities, the province is expected to see a rise in sales activity throughout the year (50.0 per cent). Interestingly, over a quarter of respondents (28.1 per cent) stated that 5 to 10 per cent of the province’s recreational market is made up of foreign purchasers, and a further 43.8 per cent predict that this number will rise by the end of September 2018. Once purchased, it is believed that this cohort, along with domestic buyers, largely intends to rent the properties out during the year in order to better afford them (62.5 per cent).
"Despite significant disparities in prices among some of Quebec’s recreational regions, the province’s variety of affordable properties alongside its world-class living in unique and beautiful locations make it a primary destination for many looking to buy a secondary property," said François Léger, broker and owner, Royal LePage Humania. "While Mont-Tremblant is known as an international destination for prospective recreational property buyers looking for higher-end secondary residences, other markets like Outaouais’ Petite-Nation or Memphrémagog provide affordable recreational properties that attract domestic buyers," he added.
In Atlantic Canada, recreational home values are forecast to decline by the end of September by 7.5 per cent year-over-year to $228,754. While sales (50.0 per cent) and inventory (40.0 per cent) are expected to remain relatively comparable to last year’s levels, a growing trend is emerging whereby many potential buyers venturing into the market seek out older properties in order to tear them down and build their dream properties, keeping the total price low. This is largely due to the region’s excellent affordability, which continues to entice a growing number of prospective retirees into the market (60.0 per cent). Like Quebec, many regions across Atlantic Canada are also witnessing interest from international purchasers. According to 40.0 per cent of recreational property specialists surveyed, foreign purchases of recreational properties in the region are forecast to increase, and 5 to 10 per cent of the market is already comprised of international purchases.
"Boasting some of the most affordable prices in the country, many purchasers from across Canada and abroad continue to flock to Atlantic Canada for its excellent value," said Marc Doucet, broker of record, Royal LePage Atlantic. "Instead of buying something that is move-in ready, these purchasers are taking their time and building their dream home."
About the Royal LePage Recreational Properties Survey
The Royal LePage Recreational Properties Survey polled 200 real estate advisors, specializing in the sale of recreational property from across Canada, between May 15, 2018 and June 1, 2018. Each respondent was asked to complete a survey composed of 20 questions spanning a variety of topics including regional recreational market trends, buyer/seller demographics, foreign buyer activity and unit sales. Separate interviews were also conducted with advisors to validate the survey findings and acquire additional insight on each market’s overall drivers and performance.