Sure, property hunting in the fall foliage with a pumpkin-spiced latte in hand sounds heavenly, but there are some hard-and-fast facts to support this strategy, too.
If you wait until fall to start looking for your dream cabin or cottage, you’re more likely to find it. Families who have been thinking about selling for a while have enjoyed “one last summer” at the cottage before putting it on the market, so chances are there are more options for a buyer at the end of the season. When it comes to cottage hunting, sometimes the early birds do not catch the worm.
End-of-season sellers are likely to be more motivated to unload a summer cabin so they don’t have to carry the costs (i.e. second mortgage payments, maintenance, repairs and security costs) right through winter. Yes, this means you’ll have to take care of those yourself, but it will be for a property you actually want, not just what was available at the time.
With the leaves on the trees changing colour and falling, autumn is the optimal time to take a peek at how exposed a potential property is when the foliage isn’t there to protect it anymore. Look at it from the lake, look at it from the driveway, and look at it from the neighbours’ point of view to see how much privacy you’re really going to get throughout the year. Are someone else’s trees protecting you from prying eyes? Will you need to put in a privacy fence or plant a hedge? It’s good to have an idea of this type of investment before putting in that offer.
The summer was long and hot and has taken its toll on evaporated lake levels. If you wait until fall to see the shoreline of a property you’ve had your eye on, you’ll get a better idea of what the beach looks like when the water is at its lowest. Also, many cottages rely on lake reservoirs for their drinking water, so knowing whether getting potable water at the end of the summer will be an issue that is important—especially if you want it to be a rental income property. Having running water, reliable electricity and a decent driveway are three musts.
If you’re looking for a cabin that’s going to be a four-season property, you need to see it in a non-summer season. That warm mid-July sunshine can make anything look good, but how does your potential dream cottage hold when faced with dark clouds and relentless drizzle? Does the driveway turn to mud? Can you feel the damp coming through the windows? Does the wind off the lake cut right through the walls? Spending some time in the house and walking the property perimetre in bad weather shows you what you’ll need to deal with.