Despite the province remaining locked in the grips of a global pandemic that’s ravished a good portion of the economy, the demand for Muskoka cottages is going strong.

Throughout the month of May, those with dollars to drop were busy securing a piece of Muskoka’s lakeside paradise for the summer and – presumably – years to come.

According to the most recent stats released by the Canadian Real Estate Association for May, there is a clear and healthy demand for cottages in Muskoka’s Lakelands region. In fact, COVID-19 likely positively impacted this, becoming a catalyst for those already toying with the idea of buying a cottage to finally bite the bullet.

Sales of waterfront properties – presumably cottages and vacation homes – numbered 188 units in May 2020. This figure is down just 1.1 % (literally two sales) from May 2019. Though waterfront sales decreased 10.8 % from 2019 on a year-to-date basis in 2020, the data suggests that eyes (and thick wallets) began to turn to cottage country by May.

RELATED: Toronto Homebuyers Looking to Buy in Cottage Country During COVID-19

This, of course, is when it became glaringly apparent that the summer would look a lot different this year. After over three months of social isolation measures (and counting), people have come to value space and the outdoors. The cancellation of overnight summer camp heightened this restlessness among the urban dwellers. “I was literally slammed. I had 27 phone calls and 300 emails within an hour of the announcement,” Sotheby’s Realty sales representative Maryrose Coleman, who is based in Muskoka’s Port Carling community and is also a co-founder of luxury cottage rental company Muskoka District Rentals, told Toronto Storeys a few weeks ago.

The increase in demand is reflected in a slight increase in price for waterfront properties. The median price for waterfront property sales across all areas of the Lakelands region in May 2020 was $565,800, a figure that’s up 3.3 % from May 2019.

Increase in non-waterfront residential properties CREA

Given our climate of economic uncertainty, the healthy cottage market is surprising in some respects – but not others. After all, if you can afford to, working and playing dockside all summer sounds a lot more attractive than being stuck in the sweltering city (assuming travel restrictions remain in place).

With that said, the market for residential non-waterfront properties for the Lakelands region isn’t experiencing a similar demand; sales were down 26 % from May 2019 – the lowest level for the month in more than two decades.

“Sales and new listings both came back from the levels they bottomed out at in April, although a recovery in the housing market is still a long way off,” said Catharine Inniss, President of The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®. “The non-waterfront segment of the market was hardest hit, with sales activity down to the lowest May in over two decades."

If you’re in the market for a slice of Muskoka real estate, it’s recommended that you work with an in-the-know local agent, who is familiar with the ins, outs, and nuances of each property that enters the market, as well as the surrounding region.