Muskoka, nature’s canvas enjoying a spike in property interest
Ah, Muskoka… haven of forests, shimmering lakes, granite emplacement and other natural wonders that have graced the canvases of famous Canadian artists such as Tom Thomson… popular cottage destination and playground for untold numbers of youngsters attending summer camps…
There simply is no need to sing the praises of this wonderland of almost 6,500 sq. km. and more than 1,600 lakes.
Oh wait, we just did.
Indeed, what’s there not to love about this blessed region about 220 kms north of Toronto, comprising the Towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, and the Townships of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay?
Perhaps you’ve spent some time here yourself, among the legions of renters who descend on the area every summer to enjoy short-term cottage rentals.
Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to own a piece of this paradise.
While home to about 60,000 permanent residents, Muskoka swells in population in summer as an additional 100,000 seasonal property owners vacation in the region.
It’s also something of a playground for the rich and famous, with sports and entertainment celebrities owning expansive properties along the shores of the three major lakes – Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph.
If you’ve ever had any desire to buy property in this area, now might be the time. And you can thank COVID-19 for the opportunity. Yes, you read that right.
Property price surge
Despite the pandemic, property prices are seeing a surge. In what’s known as the Lakelands region, including Muskoka, Haliburton, Orillia, Parry Sound, the median price for residential non-waterfront property in May 2020 was a record $416,500, up 7.3 per cent from $388,000 in May 2019. For waterfront property, more desirable and more expensive, the median price was $565,800, up 3.3 per cent from $547,550 over the same period.
In Muskoka, specifically, nonwaterfront property prices rose 8.3 per cent in May 20 to $420,868, from $388,750 in ay 2019. In Haliburton, by comparison, the prices were $318,500 and $310,000, respectively, up 2.7 per cent.
Waterfront properties in Muskoka rose 3.9 per cent in May 2020 to $727,500, compared to $700,500 in May 2019. Meanwhile, in Haliburton, the corresponding prices were $520,000 and $550,000 – down 5.5 per cent.
“We’re not surprised in the least at the stats for Muskoka,” Catharine Inniss, broker at Johnston & Daniel Rushbrooke Realty, and president of the Lakeland Association of Realtors, told Active Life.
The thinking is that the increases are due to a delayed spring market because of the pandemic, as well as low interest rates, and that this level of activity and price growth may continue through to 2021. Realtors sense that, thanks to COVID-19, people are re-evaluating their lives and want to consider getting out of the city. For those seeking quality of life, affordable properties (compared to the GTA) and the ability to work remotely, Muskoka presents an increasingly attractive option.
“Inventory has been down over the past few years and is even lower this year,” Inniss says. “The pandemic has helped people realize that now is the time to make the move. Employers have realized that telecommuting works beautifully, so people can now live here year-round and work remotely.”
Some buyers are feeling restricted in the city and want more space, she adds. “There is more bang for their buck here, off the waterfront. Many choose to purchase a lovely home and go to the beach or marina to pick up their boats on the weekend.
Then there’s the age-old question of supply and demand. “There are a limited number of properties here, and this area is world famous for good reason.”
- Deerhurst Resort
- Lake Joseph Golf Glub
- Port Carling
- Rocky Crest Golf Resort
- Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa
- Santa’s Village
- Taboo Golf Course
- The KEE to Bala
- The Rock Golf Course
New home developments
To take advantage of the growing interest in the area in not just vacation properties but year-round residences, more developers are setting up camp in Muskoka.
Canada’s largest homebuilder, Mattamy Homes, for example, has a new development in Bracebridge – White Pines – with a variety of single-detached homes.
And Trulife Developments Inc. has The Summit underway in Huntsville, offering traditional and stacked townhomes.
Regardless of your type or length of stay in Muskoka, the playground awaits. Name your passion, and you can pursue it here. Try your hand at landscape art, like the masters of the Group of Seven. Or hop up for some horseback riding, dogsledding or cross-country skiing in winter.
If cycling is more your speed, wind your way through hilly towns such as Bala, Ontario’s cranberry capital, or Bracebridge, and marvel at the three spectacular local waterfalls.
And golf. You want golf? Muskoka has carved out a reputation as one of Canada’s best golf destinations, with a handful of courses among the topranked in the country.
After your leisure activity, whatever it is, relax with some of the fare of the growing number of craft breweries in the area – Muskoka Brewery, Lake of Bays Brewing Co. and Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Location, location, location
Located in Central Ontario, extending from Georgian Bay in the west, to Lake Couchiching to the south, Algonquin Park in the east; 220 kms north of Toronto; population 60,599.
Select housing developments
By Edgewood Homes
Kestrel Glen Bracebridge & Gravenhurst
By LC Development Group
By Lakeside Development Inc.
Muskoka Bay Resort
By Freed Developments
By Trulife Developments Inc.
By Batavia Homes
The Tom Condominium
By Mattamy Homes