In the World of Cottage Country Realty, Experience is Priceless


When determining your next move within the cottage country real estate realm — be that selling, buying, renting, or otherwise — listening to your heart is important.

But while the heart wants what it wants, your finances do too. As such, also listening to pros on how to best approach the monetary aspects of cottage country real estate will help ensure your next move is holistically healthy.

“Let’s say you have a legacy property that you’ve had for years, and you love it — your family loves the cottage,” says Ross Halloran, Broker and Senior Vice President, Sales at Halloran & Associates, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “But [you’re] getting more and more interested in the fact that [this cottage’s] value has appreciated dramatically, especially over the pandemic.

We work with both buyers and sellers. Our team has a track record of establishing new values for properties, because [as a] luxury brokerage, we have a lot of tools in our toolkit that allow us to do that.”

READ: Rare Rental Opportunity Puts Power in Cottage Purchasers’ Hands

The Halloran & Associates team runs a series of programs that support both sellers and buyers in the world of cottage country real estate. For those curious about selling their cottage, but unsure about best pricing practices, Halloran describes “What’s it Worth”: a two-pronged approach for value assessment. He attributes the system to his former partner Roger Kolbuc, a 50-year real estate veteran who passed away last year.

“[Kolbuc] taught us . . . when you’re trying to assess value on a property, because the sands are shifting quickly, you must first review comparable sales to see where the market’s heading price-wise.”

The next step, which helps unearth the most accurate value assessment, is to do a “cost replacement evaluation.”

“[This is] where you do an extraction; you remove any values for improvements to the land and try to figure out what the base value of the land would be if it was undeveloped, which is just the vacant land portion. Once the base land price is established, you must calculate a value for each of the improvements that has been added to the vacant land, whether [they] be landscaping, septic, dock, driveway, etc.,” Halloran explains.

“Lastly, you must calculate the current building costs to replace the structures on the property, including furnishings as improvements. While the process takes time, cost replacement estimates help keep your hand on the pulse of where replacement costs are in real time, and are a great tool to augment comparable market analysis, to assess the true current value of a property during these changing times.”

The benefits of the market insights pulled from “What’s it Worth” don’t end with value assessment; they work in tandem with another Halloran & Associates offering, “Unlock Equity – List it and Lease it,” facilitated through a tight-knit relationship with Muskoka District Rentals. 

“Maryrose [Coleman] and I founded Muskoka District Rentals (MDR), which is one of the leading full service rental agencies,” says Halloran. “So we’re in a unique position to be able to pair up potential buyers with cottages, both as top agents for Sotheby’s, but also having this hands-on knowledge of the rental market and informing potential buyers of what income a cottage might generate in the rental market.

Indeed, Halloran’s team works alongside MDR to pinpoint buyers interested in renting out properties post-purchase. Because they view properties from both a resale and rental perspective, Halloran & Associates can inform buyers about realistic rental income — which can help them offset cottage costs. Or, Halloran says, sellers keen on exploring a new lake will have a “war chest” for renting at their disposal, all while knowing they sold their cottage before interest rates hiked any further (and cooled the market). In addition, often, the former property owner has the opportunity to access and enjoy their former cottage, post-sale, by renting it from the new owners. 

READ: How This Cottage Country Real Estate Team Sets the Perfect Stage for Luxury Sales

Buyers, too, will benefit from the insights this luxury cottage country brokerage has on its roster. Halloran’s own “Deep Dive” advanced due diligence enables buyers to enter bids with a solid foundation of knowledge and confidence.

“[In ‘Deep Dive,’] I’ll do a current market analysis on the property, then I’ll do the cost replacement, and then I’ll do adjustments for what will happen if it’s a multi-offer situation; adjustments on what the percentage increase will be over list,” he explains, noting that in the last year using this formula, he’s landed within 1 and 2% on every multi-offer sale. “We take a very analytical approach to our business and we try to keep emotions out of it. Enough people will inject the emotions when they find the cottage of their dreams, but they really only feel comfortable moving forward if they’ve got the empirical data. In short, we give them the stats so they can follow their heart.”

Also enhancing the buyer experience, Halloran & Associates’ “Test Drive Your Dream Home” permits qualifying buyers to rent out a property they’re interested in purchasing, and then credit as much as 50% of their rental fee towards the new cottage, should they choose to seal the deal. Meanwhile, Coleman’s own “Welcome to our Stage” includes curatorial staging that brings new life into a space while respecting its roots, which can ultimately fast-track a listing’s sale.

Halloran & Associates is exceptionally equipped to help sellers and buyers navigate through cottage country realty’s challenging waters, while helping owners safely offset the costs of cottage ownership.

In the end, with Halloran & Associates, experience truly makes a difference.

Cover Image: 1044 Russells Lane, Gravenhurst (Halloran & Associates)

This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.

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