Property sales across Ontario’s cottage country have come down considerably from the dizzying heights of the pandemic. Depending on where you look, however, conditions are still leaning seller-favourable.

Across the Lakelands North region specifically — made up of a number of cottage country headliners like Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays, and Georgian Bay — there were 72 waterfront sales recorded in October, marking a year-over-year increase just shy of 3%.

Although waterfront properties took considerably longer to sell — median days on market climbed to 37.5 last month, up from 20.5 in October 2022 — they sold for a pretty penny, with the average selling price hitting $1,383,191. That figure was up 15.8% year over year. Meanwhile, median price, at $900,000, was up 9.8% year over year. As such, total dollar volume similarly saw an annual jump of 19.1% to $99,589,760.

On a year-to-date basis, the stats were a bit of a mixed bag.

Just 717 waterfront sales were recorded in the first 10 months of this year, marking a slump of 7.7% compared to the same period in 2022. Ross Halloran, Broker and Senior VP of Sales for Halloran & Associates, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, says this indicates that sales activity has “settled back to pre-covid historical norms.”

Halloran additionally points out that, year to date, there were 1,947 new waterfront listings as of last month (up 19.1% from the same period in 2022) and 446 active listings (up 59.1% from the same period in 2022). Median days on market for the first ten months of the year also saw an uptick, clocking in at 25 (up from 14 months over the same period in 2022).

Even so, Halloran says that other year-to-date metrics “show stability and maintenance of a sellers’ market.”

More specifically, he points to year-to-date average and median prices — which came in at $1,401,006 and $939,500 respectively — noting that they have “held firm” in spite of those aforementioned “significant increases” in monthly inventory and days on the market.

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Speaking broadly to the year-to-date figures, Halloran quips a famous Mark Twain quote: ‘The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’

“Similarly, recent rumours claiming a massive market correction and property value erosion of waterfront properties have simply not lived up to the media hype,” he explains. “Year-to-date stats clearly show that we are still in a strong sellers’ market.”

That being said, Halloran underscores that the savviest sellers are the ones who price their properties competitively.

“As in the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, when waterfront property values remained largely unchanged, the adage of ‘they are not making any more waterfront properties’ seems to be a major contributing factor underscoring the historic resilience of waterfront property values and continued buyer demand, even during difficult financial and geopolitical times,” Halloran goes on to say.

“Moving forward, as inflation is predicted to slowly abate over the coming year and interest rates will stabilize and possibly fall slightly, look for a traditionally strong spring and early summer waterfront market in 2024.”

Within the Lakeland North non-waterfront segment, where supply conditions are not as tight, sales activity was more downcast. Year over year, sales slid 8.2% last month with just 78 transactions recorded. In response, listings accrued on the market, with new listings ending October at 182 (up 45.6% annually), and active listings coming in at 398 (up 50.8% annually).

In addition, year-to-date sales of non-waterfront properties slipped 17.1% to 785, while new and active listings jumped 12% to 1,787 and 62.5% to 326, respectively.