The Cottage Trends Report for 2023, recently released by Re/Max Canada, indicates that Generation X is now the driving force behind recreational property transactions in Canada, leading activity in 91 per cent of surveyed regions. While historically retirees, including Baby Boomers and Gen X, have been the primary market force, demand for recreational properties decreased in the latter half of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, leading to more balanced conditions in 50 per cent of regions. The report predicts that consumer confidence will increase as the temperature rises during the “cottage season,” and average residential sale prices are expected to rise by 0.9 per cent.

Passing down properties to family is a significant motivator for recreational property buyers, with 51 per cent of Canadians who own or plan to own a recreational property pointing to this as a key factor. Of these, 47 per cent are Gen Xers. The Leger survey conducted for Re/Max Canada found that 42 per cent of current recreational property owners plan to pass down their properties to family members, while 56 per cent have already done so or plan to do so while they are alive. Three-quarters of recreational property owners feel confident that with proper succession planning, they can seamlessly pass down their properties to their families.

Quality of life and affordable prices are top priorities for recreational property buyers. As Canada experiences affordability challenges, 36 per cent of Canadians interested in owning recreational properties, including 45 per cent of Gen Xers, are attracted to recreational markets because of the livability they offer compared to larger city centers. The top five must-haves among recreational property buyers include affordable purchase price, proximity to water or waterfront, reasonable maintenance costs, proximity to needed amenities, and all-season access to emergency services. The trend of recreational and residential properties becoming increasingly blurred during the pandemic has made quality of life an even more critical factor in the decision to own a recreational property.

Re/Max Canada brokers and agents provided an analysis of their local market activity for the first quarter of 2023 and an outlook for the remainder of the year. Retirees, families, and couples are the top three consumer segments leading the recreational property market, accounting for 82 per cent, 68 per cent, and 55 per cent of activity, respectively. Waterfront properties (77 per cent) and access to recreational activities (59 per cent), such as skiing and water sports, are the most sought-after features of recreational markets.

In Western Canada, regions have either transitioned to balanced conditions or remain favoring sellers. The demand for properties outpaces supply in Albetan cottage markets, such as Canmore and Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas, and Whistler, B.C. In contrast, both Tofino and Ucluelet in British Columbia have balanced conditions as buyers become more reserved. Gen X, families, couples, and retirees propel demand in Western Canada.

In Ontario, despite most regions favoring sellers last year due to interest rate hikes and ongoing economic uncertainty, 67 per cent of recreational markets are now in balanced conditions. Muskoka, Haliburton, Greater Sudbury, Windsor-Essex, Manitoulin & French River, ON, still favor sellers. Demand remains strong, particularly from Gen X buyers and families, who are attracted to the region’s natural beauty, recreational activities, and family-friendly atmosphere. In Muskoka, the average residential sale price is expected to rise by 2.0 per cent in 2023, and 4.0 per cent in the Kawartha Lakes region.

In Atlantic Canada, the recreational property market remains highly favorable for sellers due to limited inventory available in most regions. Despite a decrease in the number of sales year-over-year in most cottage markets, several regions, including