Since the beginning of COVID-19, more home buyers have been purchasing properties in cabin country. Spending more time at home, and longing for additional space both indoors and out, has sent many buyers into rural markets like the Sunshine Coast, causing sales to skyrocket.
With employer mindsets shifting towards more flexible work-from-home policies, providing home buyers with greater freedom as to where they can live.
People are looking to get out into the outdoors not just for the summer season, but all year long. A lot of people looking at year-round places where they can live, versus just being able to go away for a few days at a time.
If you’re looking to make your first home purchase in “cabin” country, here are some things you’ll need to know before you buy.
Consider Property Access and Distance to Amenities
Whether you’re eying a property by the lake or one that’s nestled in the forest, there are many unique settings to consider when buying a rural property. Your location can greatly impact your lifestyle, especially if you decide to live there year-round.
One of the first things you’ll likely need to determine when buying is how easy is it to access the home. If you plan to live at there year-round, you’ll want to ensure the roads to get to and from your residence are well maintained and accessible, especially during the winter.
How remote your property is will also play a role in your purchase. The recent surge of all-season cottage buyers don’t want to feel too isolated, and want to be fairly close to neighbours in case there’s an emergency.
You’ll also want to consider proximity to basic amenities, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and hospitals. Most cottage buyers prefer to be within 30 minutes of a small town where these services are available, and up to three hours from a major urban centre.
Learn About Rural Infrastructure and Home Winterization
Unlike a city or suburban home, rural properties don’t always share municipal services. Instead, you will have to get familiar with the rural infrastructure needed to independently manage your home’s water, heating and sanitation utilities.
Buyers need to be aware of the types of systems their home uses. Some properties feature dug or drilled wells, and source water from nearby rivers and lakes. Make note of how the home processes sewage, like through a septic tank, which is stored on-site and underground.
If your plan is to live at the cabin all-year round, it’s vital your home is properly winterized and can withstand the cold. Make sure the home is well insulated in the walls, pipes and roof, and make sure the heating source is efficient for the size of the property. Be sure the cabin can also supply water in the freezing months with the help of a defrost line into the well or a heat trace that will keep the pipes from freezing.
It’s not uncommon to get zero service bars in rural areas either—be sure to confirm you can receive reliable mobile phone and internet service at the cabin, especially if you’re working remotely.
Cell and internet service are obviously very important, especially for people that are doing a lot of work from home. Find out what areas may not have good service.
Calculate Cottage Insurance and Upkeep Costs
Just like any home, cabins come with a range of maintenance costs, though some of these expenses are unique to rural areas.
You’ll want to factor in long-term upkeep expenses, like keeping the driveway in good condition so it’s easily accessible. Your property may be on a septic system, which will require pumping every three to five years depending on its size and usage, which also contributes to maintenance costs. When looking at a cabin property, examining the health of any trees and their orientation towards the house—cutting down sickly shrubs can get expensive.
When it comes to financing your property, there are a number of factors that will contribute to your insurance rates, such as your distance from local fire stations, if your home is elevated from nearby water, and even how often the home is occupied.
The mortgage lending process will also look a bit different from what’s involved for your typical city or suburban home. If your home meets the standards to be a primary residence, you may be able to put down a 5% mortgage deposit, though some lenders could request 25% in some cases. Hence, it’s crucial to understand the different implications for each rural mortgage provider.
There’s a lot of things to think about, therefore, by enlisting my help as a local realtor I can ensure you have the most up-to-date advice.