I don’t know many people who would trust an obstetrician to treat a heart attack. Rather than risk their health, most (if not all) would turn to a cardiologist for the job. The example may seem extreme, but many people continue to take similar risks when buying or selling property with an out-of-area Realtor®.

While it is true that an Ontario licensed agent can trade in real estate anywhere in the province, it may be smart to go with an agent who is familiar with the region. Especially in cottage country where each waterfront property is unique.

Consider the story of the buyers who used their Toronto agent to search for the perfect family cottage: After spending the fall searching, they finally land on the perfect spot - a relatively new cottage on a bay. It is November when they tour the property and the bay is skimmed over with ice and a light dusting of snow. The cottage is stunning. The SOLD sign goes up and the buyers make plans for a dock - perfect for a new boat and for the teenagers to dive from into the lake. The dreams burst when spring arrives, and the buyer discovers his beautiful bay is only half a meter deep and full of weeds - completely unsuitable for swimming or boats!

Yes, this may sound like the urban legends and tall tales told around the campfire, but with about 12% of the market served by out-of-town agents, this scenario could be playing out far too often. A local Realtor® can offer buyers crucial knowledge expertise when making the important (and expensive) lifestyle decision to buy or sell property in cottage country. 

Realtors® who live and work in the area know what to look for when dealing with septic system and water testing - they deal with these issues everyday. They know the area lakes and can guide you to those best suited to your cottage lifestyle.

Are you a big fan of watersports and boating? A local agent will be able to guide you to bigger lakes, with the space you need to zip around the water. Or maybe you are an angler who wants to get out on the lake at dawn to chase the elusive “one that got away”. A deep knowledge of the area will allow a local realtor to find you the perfect fish-filled lake with plenty of hidden bays and weedy outcroppings to suit your fishing needs.

When selling your property, a local agent will provide a unique insight to effectively pricing your cottage property. Unlike a city property, where lot sizes and houses in a neighbourhood are similar, each cottage and waterfront property is unique. A local realtor will bring experience, local market knowledge, and information on the closest comparable properties to the table when determining the value of your cottage property.

Buying or selling, a local Realtor® will be able to recommend local contractors who understand and can explain the varied zoning bylaws and permits required to renovate your waterfront property. They will also be able to put you in touch with local lawyers who deal with easements and rights-of-way on a regular basis. A local realtor will also be able to suggest inspectors, appraisers, cleaners, or any other service you may need.

Regardless of whether you go local or not, be sure to do your homework! The best thing you can do is to familiarize yourself with the area you are looking to settle in. Read the local papers, visit local hot spots and talk to people who live on the lakes you are targeting. They will give you the honest truth about the lake - the water, how active it is, and what the community surrounding the lake is like.