Housing: It’s hunting season

For the first time in years, buyers have the upper hand in vacation country. Here’s how to find the second home of your dreams.



From the June 2009 issue of the magazine.


If you ask Peter Lutz what he’s doing this weekend, the Toronto publishing executive will happily tell you that he’s going to be spending time at his sprawling cottage in Ontario’s gorgeous and ultra-expensive Muskoka region. Then his smile will widen as he explains to you how he bought the cottage last winter for a half-million dollars under the original price of $1.49 million. “My wife and I were sitting on the dock of a friend’s cottage last summer, discussing the economy,” says Lutz, 51 (whose name we’ve changed). “It was obvious the real estate market was starting to turn. We decided it was the perfect time to be looking for bargains in vacation homes. And that’s what we did.”

The couple spent weeks this past summer visiting million-dollar-plus cottages that had been listed for sale. In early fall, they compiled a list of 10 properties they loved that were still on the market. In November the couple instructed their real estate agent to start placing “stink” bids that were at least 33% below asking prices. Their plan was to begin with their top-ranked cottage, then move down the list until they found a cottage owner willing to take their lowball offer.

To their surprise, their first offer was accepted. “The cottage had been on the market for $1.49 million all summer,” says Lutz. “It was re-listed in October for $1.29 million. Our offer was $950,000 and after a bit of negotiating, we got the place for $1 million even. It was a cold day in December and the owners of the cottage hadn’t used it for months. They were ready to move on and we benefited.”

If you, too, are in the market for vacation property, take a page from the Lutzes’ book. Thanks to the recession, buyers of recreational properties can now drive a hard bargain.

And that’s only fair since sellers have had things all their way for the past several years. Average prices for cottages in the Lutzes’ area almost tripled from $440,000 in 1999 to $1.2 million in 2007.

Since then, though, prices have nosedived by 15% to 20% in Muskoka and in most other prime vacation areas. “My feeling is that prices are still too high,” says Tim Harris, owner of Tradewinds Realty Inc. of Chester, N.S., which specializes in carriage-trade properties along Nova Scotia’s south shore. “We’re in a tough market and sellers have to adjust prices accordingly.”

Keep these tips in mind to find your own bargain.


The best time to start looking is at the height of summer. Spend time on the Internet researching prices. Drive out to see properties that interest you. Follow the progress of those properties for a few weeks so you can see how long it takes for a listing to sell. “We spent every weekend last year during the summer and the fall meeting with real estate agents and inspecting properties,” says Lutz. “It was exhausting but believe me, all that legwork paid off.”

Buddy up

Many agents don’t want to put in stink bids because of the low probability the offers will be accepted. One of your first jobs is to find at least one agent who sees the merit of your strategy and is willing to work with you. Don’t be afraid to use several agents, so long as you make it clear to each agent that you’ll be using each of them only for the listings in a specific area. “Real estate agents are pack animals,” says Lutz. “If the wrong coyote shows up in their neighborhood, they bark him out. Make sure you use the right agent for the right territory.”


There’s no point in trying to get a deal on a property that has just been listed. The seller is still hoping to get his or her asking price. “Wait three months, or until the listing has expired and been put back on the market at a lower list price, before you put in a stink bid,” says Paolo Visentin, a real estate agent with Country Living Realty Ltd., in Rosemont, Ont. “If a place has been listed for only three or four weeks, the seller still believes a better offer lies in the wings.”

Wait some more

For country properties, the best time to buy is in the dead of winter. For cottages, it’s late fall. “There’s less competition when the weather gets cool,” says John Aben, the sales rep in Muskoka Lake of Bays who sold the Lutzes their cottage. “And sellers don’t want the cost of carrying the cottage through the winter. They’re very motivated.”

Make it clean

Ensure your offer contains no complicated conditions. You want to make it as easy as possible for the seller to sign on the dotted line. “Make sure you have the money in hand, can get a quick closing and don’t raise too much fuss over the small stuff,” says Lutz. “The only condition we had was a home inspection — that was it.”

Keep cool

If you fall in love with a place to the point where you tell yourself that you must have it at any price, then you’ve already lost your edge in the bidding wars. To preserve a detached attitude, keep looking until you have a list of at least a half-dozen properties on the market that you would be happy to own. Keep reminding yourself that you would be content in any of them. Then start bidding. If the owner of your top-ranked property won’t meet your price, shrug and move on. “It’s just a transaction” says Lutz. “In this market, some sellers are sure to capitulate. When they do, you’ll come out a winner.”

66 comments on “Housing: It’s hunting season

  1. True, want a person who wants to invest in the housing market must keep in mind is first to wait for favourable season, late autumn-winter, to see only the houses who were put on the market three or four months ago and, most important, not to get too attached on the house.


  2. Our hearts go out to individuals from Japan with this time of pain.


  3. I commonly really do not submit in Blogs but your blog forced me to, remarkable


  4. Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure about the source? Find Graphic Designers on oDesk


  5. I cling on to listening in the direction of rumor speak about obtaining boundless internet dependent grant programs so i’ve been looking for near to for the best internet site to obtain one. Could you reveal to me please, especially where could i arrive around some?


  6. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.


  7. I am continually browsing online for posts that can facilitate me. Thank you!


  8. O . k ., that’s a nice beginning but i’ll have to look into that a tiny bit more. Will let you know what more there is.


  9. I represented only essaying this original information for a while . After that right through the day along the lines of continuous Googleing, in the end I got it in your site . I inquire whats the lack including Google technique that dont social station this kinda informative articles or content in tiptop of each leaning. Typically the top sites are full such as food waste .


  10. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A great read. I’ll definitely be back.


  11. Good points?I might note that as anyone who actually doesn’t write on blogs so much (in truth, this can be my first publish), I don’t assume the time period ‘lurker’ is very becoming to a non-posting reader. It’s now not your fault in the slightest degree , but possibly the blogosphere may just come up with a better, non-creepy name for the 90% of us that enjoy studying the content


  12. That seems wonderful but i’m just still not so sure that I prefer it. In any event will look further into it and decide personally! :)


  13. You made a number of fine points there. I did a search on the subject and found mainly folks will go along with with your blog.


  14. I’ll right away grab your rss feed as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.


  15. My favourite Chinese restaurant is the Asian Legend , located 2 blocks east of Spadina on the north side of Dundas. Modern and full of …………….Chinese eaters. All ways a good sign, right ? Their menu is extensive, and I reccomend the “General Tao chicken “. Note the red pepper symbols on the side of the menu pages, the more red pepper signs ,the hotter the dish will be .


  16. That appears fine however , i am still not so sure that I like it. In any case will look even more into it and choose personally! :)


  17. Well, that’s fine, but how about additional choices we’ve got here? Would you mind crafting another post regarding these also? Kudos!


  18. Ok, that is a nice beginning but i’ll have to check into that a tiny bit more. Will show you exactly what more i’ve found.


  19. Okay, it really is a nice beginning but i’ll have to take a look at that a touch more. Will let you know exactly what else i’ve found.


  20. Thank you for making the trustworthy try to give an explanation for this. I feel very sturdy approximately it and wish to be informed more. If it’s OK, as you reach more in depth wisdom, might you thoughts including extra posts similar to this one with additional info? It might be extremely helpful and helpful for me and my colleagues.


  21. I keep listening to the news bulletin speak about getting boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you tell me please, where could i get some?


  22. I have to point out that over-all I am fairly taken with this web-site. It is totally obvious that you are aware of your topic and that you are serious about it. I wish I had your ability to write. I’ve added your site and also look ahead to far more posts.


  23. Hello, I love your website. You are a great writer. The highest quality nap mat on the web. Your one stop shop for any sleep mat.


  24. It’s perfect moment to make some strategies for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you could write next posts mentioning to this article. I desire to read even more things about it! photography blog


  25. Pingback: Check out my facebook profile

  26. Hi there can I bring into play some of the insight here in this way in if I provide a link underwrite to your site?


  27. I derive pleasure reading it. I miss to learn more on this subject.. Thanks for writing this marvellous post.. Anyway, I am gonna subscribe to your silage and I whim you post again soon.


  28. Pingback: Toasty Redhead

  29. Pingback: Fathers Day Gifts

  30. Pingback: Search Engine Optimization

  31. Pingback: Black Fridy Ads

  32. Pingback: Sweaters On Sale

  33. Pingback: poly mva

  34. Pingback: natural hair color

  35. Pingback: The Kitchen Cookware

  36. Pingback: Event Tickets

  37. Pingback: Waterkettle

  38. Pingback: Proxy Service

  39. Pingback: Gold Party

  40. Pingback: Mauritius Villas

  41. Pingback: Location Vacances Ile Maurice

  42. Pingback: Prostate

  43. Pingback: Signs Of Autism

  44. Pingback: Car valeting guide

  45. Pingback: Online Paralegal Courses

  46. Pingback: Wooden Doghouse

  47. Pingback: make money online from home

  48. Pingback: Associate Degrees Online

  49. Pingback: roofing kansas city

  50. Pingback: roofing companies in kansas city

  51. Pingback: siding sacramento

  52. Pingback: tree service houston

  53. Pingback: vinyl windows atlanta

  54. Pingback: houston roofing

  55. Pingback: Location Ile Maurice

  56. Pingback: end of tenancy cleaning

  57. Pingback: Life Insurance Rates

  58. Pingback: Mauritius Villas

  59. Pingback: Stair Lift Prices

  60. Pingback: July 4th Sales

  61. Pingback: Cheap Car Insurance Quotes Online

  62. Pingback: Personal Secured Loans

  63. Pingback: Credit Card Consolidation

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *