Thinking of buying a cottage? Here are 9 ways to...
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Mar 22, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Thinking of buying a cottage? Here are 9 ways to make your vacation home a money-maker

Metroland Media


As you slog through the work week, you may find yourself occasionally daydreaming about escaping to your own private retreat -- just far enough from the worries of the workplace to hit the 'reset' button over a relaxing weekend.

It's the dream of many Canadians to one day own a vacation home or cottage where they can reconnect with family and friends and create lasting memories. The decision to buy a cottage is one that should be made after careful consideration, but with the right moves, you may be able to maximize your investment by having your beloved cottage double as a money-making vacation rental.

Here are 9 things you should do if you're thinking of buying a cottage that you'll also rent out:

1. Do your research


research
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If it isn't already, location should be your primary area of concern. The location of a vacation property will influence a number of factors including, but not limited to:

• property list prices

• municipal property tax rate

• mortgage and insurance rates

• proximity to emergency services

• access (e.g. land access or by boat only)

• scenery and surroundings

• nearby amenities and attractions

A lakeside property with land access is sure to cost more, but would also have greater rental and resale value in the long-run. Once you've explored these factors for each "cottage country" region -- popular regions in Ontario include Muskoka, The Kawarthas, Haliburton, Lake Erie, etc. -- try to narrow down your research to two or three regions before you start looking at property listings.
 

2. Try before you buy


try before you buy
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Research, while critical in this process, will only take you so far. To really get a taste of what it could be like to own a cottage in your ideal cottage country region(s), you need to dip your toes in the water (perhaps even literally). If possible, sample cottage life in a number of rentals, if only for a weekend here and there. In the process, you may learn about:

• nearby amenities -- is there a grocery or general store nearby?

• the drive -- how long would it take to drive there and back home?

• water access -- is lake access through a gradually-sloping beach or a steep pile of rocks?

• water regulations -- are motorized water vehicles allowed on the lake?

• your cottage style -- are you looking for modern comforts or something more rustic?

You may even end up finding a cottage you rented and loved on the market down the line.
 

3. Do the math


math
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An honest and diligent crunching of the numbers is crucial when you're thinking about buying a cottage. That way, you're able to set a realistic budget that will cover the cost of ownership, plus any upgrades and renovations you may undertake.

If renting out your cottage is part of the plan, don't forget to explore which tax benefits you may be eligible for:

• Upgrades to the cottage, or capital improvements, may be used to lower the taxable capital gain you report during tax season in certain instances

• When a cottage is primarily a rental property, losses suffered (e.g. cottage destroyed by flood or fire) may be claimed as capital loss (talk to your accountant or a tax specialist for specific details)
 

Once you've taken the leap towards cottage ownership, here are some pro tips for renting out your cottage to maximize your investment:

4. Freshen it up


beavers lodge havelock
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Increase the desirability of your rental by brightening up the space. A fresh coat of paint, updated window coverings and light-coloured pillows and throws are good places to start.

Special touches (e.g. extra linens and towels) and on-site amenities (e.g. washer/dryer or clothes line) will also go a long way in attracting renters looking for a little extra comfort.

 

5. Declutter and stock up


Packer's Bay Muskoka
CanadaStays.com

Stowing away clutter in cabinets and shelves will help to maximize the living space.

While you're at it, make sure to leave behind some essentials for visitors like candles, matches, and a well-stocked first aid kit.

 

6. Take great photos


Six Mile Cottage
CanadaStays.com

If you're looking to make your cottage stand out from the rest, grainy cellphone photos just won't do.

Put in the extra effort to showcase your property and wow potential renters with a delightful preview.

 

7. Do away with keys


keyless entry
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Consider installing keyless entry for your entrances. You can reset the code after each visitor for added security.

As a bonus, you won't have to deal with the hassle of lost or broken cottage keys.

 

8. Clean up


clean up
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Unless you want to spend all your time at your cottage cleaning up after other people, you should look into hiring a cleaning service to scrub down the property. Better yet, try to find a reputable local service that specializes in cottage clean-up.
 

9. Market your cottage


marketing
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Last, but certainly not least, work with a credible online vacation site to help market your property to the right renters. Showcase your cottage's best features while leaving the hassle of managing bookings to the professionals.

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This list has been brought to you by CanadaStays. With over 50,000 cottages, cabins, chalets, resorts, lodges, B&Bs and unique country accommodations available for rent across the country, CanadaStays.com is Canada's largest vacation rental resource.

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