Buying A Cottage In The Winter

Things To Consider

Winter can still be a great time for buying waterfront property. Usually, there is less competition, and properties can be listed longer making room for negotiation. With that being said, there are some things to keep in mind which may need a little more due diligence. 

Inquire About The Body Of Water

  • Depth of water at the shoreline, end of the dock, and throughout the body of water 
  • Are there weeds? Is the bottom hard? Mushy?
  • Water levels, whether they fluctuate
  • Good for boating and water sports? Any restrictions? Any by-laws?
  • Ask your Realtor if they have photographs of the property in the summer, specifically close-ups of the waters edge and dock system

Property Access

  • If road access, is road year-round or seasonal? 
  • Is there a cost for snow plowing the road if it is private?
  • Connections to other bodies of water or land-locked?
  • Is there a marina on the lake? If your cottage is boat access, what is the cost? When is it open? Parking? Guests? Storage costs?
  • Winter access, whether there is safe access by trails or ice

 Additional Clauses To Consider 

A complete home inspection and system checks may not be possible if some mechanical systems are shut down for the winter. Inquire about clauses to protect you such as:

  • Seller confirms water and/or septic systems will be in good working order on closing 
  • Seller confirms when the roof was last replaced or the age of the roof
  • Seller to meet with Buyer in spring to help with opening and starting systems to ensure good working order 

 Inquiries About Property

  • See if your Realtor has summer photographs of the property in order to see what the ground is like
  • Are property lines marked in the winter, if not request a survey to confirm 
  • Determine where water and septic systems lay 
  • Remember the sun moves along a different trajectory in winter, therefore this could diminish or improve the amount of sun received in summer due to trees and exposure.
  • Ask for a summer sunset picture!

Inquiries About Building

  • Add a clause warranting all decks, stairs, roof, and foundation or piers are in good condition if buried under snow.
  • Make sure Seller has removed everything they want if there is no access in winter. If things need to be picked up in the spring, make sure it is well documented with an agreed-upon time frame for removal

There are many things to look out for when purchasing a waterfront property, especially a recreational one. Having the right Realtor who is experienced and knowledgeable in this specific area helps to protect you.  

Contact us to help get you started, and ask about our automated search to ensure you receive listings tailored to your wants and needs – as soon as they hit the market!