Waterfront property prices had begun to rise long before 2020. They were accentuated with the pandemic. Who today in Quebec has the luxury of buying a house that overlooks the water?
At the beginning of this millennium, so not so long ago, you could get your hands on a property that has access to water for less than $100,000 in the Laurentians. This is practically impossible today: the average price recorded this year (in the first quarter) is $418,000 for a residence with access to a body of water in the region. Of course, the averages hide huge price differences depending on the location and condition of the property, but the overall increase is an indisputable indicator: 331% in 20 years for residences on the waterfront or with access in the water in Quebec.
It’s still a lot of people in their fifties, says Véronique Boucher, residential real estate broker in Estrie at Royal LePage Au Sommet.
Often, they see retirement approaching and buy a house on the waterfront that they will live in part-time at first, during weekends and holidays, she explains. To then settle there full time, once retirement is well underway.
At Lac des Piles, in Mauricie, the inhabitants give way to “people from outside” – from Trois-Rivières, or even further afield, explains Christian Carrier, president of the Association des residents du lac des Piles. The location is beautiful, quiet, and within an hour’s drive of several towns – which is an unwritten standard for a cabin, he says. “The classic for a chalet, continues Christian Carrier, is 60 minutes. So you can go back there on a weeknight if you forget something. Or if you want to see the sunset. »
Young people buy less, of course.
Unless you get your hands on a $400,000 home, says Cathleen Hill, real estate broker at RE/MAX Bonjour in the Laurentians. And to pay that price, you have to want to embark on a renovation project.
Young people who want to settle down to live on the edge of the water will do so, she says.
“But people buying second homes don’t want to renovate on the weekends,” Cathleen Hill says.
The rise in prices for this type of residence leaves us with this harsh reality, notes the real estate agent: “Children can no longer afford to buy back their parents’ properties. They cannot pay the market price. »
“We believe that filiation will happen naturally, but that’s not always the case,” explains Christian Carrier, president of the Association des residents du lac des Piles. According to him, children who grew up with their feet in the water do not want to keep the family property if they inherit the residence of their parents. Which leads to this phenomenon: Families who owned three or even four neighboring lakeside cabins now have only one. Or none.
It must be said that the sale is tempting. At Lac des Piles, home values started to climb about a decade ago, says Christian Carrier. At that time, a property was sold around 20% above the municipal assessment, while the current norm is more around 35%, he says.
Since a lake is not elastic, each of the houses bordering it gains in value, explains Jean-Pierre Cadrin, a municipal assessor who has worked in the Eastern Townships for 30 years.
“It just becomes a matter of purchasing power,” he says.
Some very popular lakes are thus slowly being transformed into “private clubs”.
“If we go back to the 1950s, the shores of Quebec lakes were not popular,” continues Jean-Pierre Cadrin. French Canadians could not afford to have two properties. »
Times have changed and the extension of highways has made more remote lakes attractive to wealthy urbanites who have settled there.
In this context, what is the future of the shack, this modest chalet which is located at the edge of the water and which has kept its beautiful original rusticity?
“Demolition,” replies Jean-Pierre Cadrin without hesitation.
First, it must be understood that we are talking here about buildings with a value of $50,000 or at most $100,000 without heritage value.
Someone who buys the land (and the chalet!) for $700,000 will include the price of the demolition in the budget to build the new residence, gives the example of Jean-Pierre Cadrin.
In this context, access to a waterfront residence becomes impossible for new buyers.
Despite the rise, some brokers are having to deal with the disappointment of their clients who want to list their property at the price it would have sold for 24 months or even 12 months ago, during the height of the pandemic.
“People have been stuck with the posted prices during the pandemic, admits Véronique Boucher, of Royal LePage, even if in general, people adjust to the current market value. »
According to Véronique Boucher, those who sell their waterfront property without buying one regret not having advertised the house sooner.
“At the beginning of the year, we had expected significant drops, but in fact, there are not really any, says Véronique Boucher. When the houses are displayed at the right price, things go well. »
Growth is less accelerated, but demand is still strong, she says. Sales times, however, can be a bit longer.
His colleague from the Laurentians Cathleen Hill confirms it: there is no decline in interest in houses on the waterfront.
In the Laurentians, the lure of nature and an active life continues to convince many city dwellers to leave the city.
“The Laurentians are always going to be very popular with buyers,” says the one who has her office in Saint-Sauveur. The lakes, but also the ski centers and the hiking trails, apparently convince future owners of all ages to pay a little more for the house of their dreams.
And when it’s retirees who buy, knowing that there are also major hospitals in the region can make the difference, underlines Cathleen Hill.
There are two types of buyers for waterfront homes, explains Véronique Boucher. First, those for whom funding is not an issue. They are not bothered by rising interest rates. On the other hand, those who had planned this purchase for a while and built a savings plan to achieve it must wait a bit.
“For waterfront properties, it’s a small portion of the buyers that were there, new buyers, that interest rates have slowed down. »
“Currently, prices are slightly negotiated whereas before, we were going to one-up, says Véronique Boucher. If we display at 1.2 million, the house should sell more or less 1.2 million or 1.1 million whereas before, we went up to 1.35 million. »
The fact remains that a rarity will always go quickly, says Eva Gagnon, real estate broker in Lac-Saint-Jean, member of the RE/MAX group.
“The product that everyone wants is going fast,” says the one who has worked in the field for fifteen years and who had never experienced one-upmanship before the pandemic.
In Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, brokers have seen city dwellers settle on the waterfront during the pandemic. People from Quebec and even Montreal who adopted a new life with telework. This has caused several chalets to become main residences, explains Eva Gagnon. In a municipality like Saint-Gédéon, for example, where prices have peaked. “A $1,000,0000 house in Saint-Gédéon, I had never seen that! »
Between 2021 and 2022, the price of waterfront homes for all of Quebec increased by 26%.