TORONTO -- While the COVID-19 pandemic has damaged much of the Canadian economy, there is one market that appears to be thriving: the cottage industry.
Ontario realtor Catharine Inniss of Cottage in Muskoka real estate told CTV New Channel on Sunday that the cottage market in the province has "been really, really speedy" in the last few months.
"We had a delayed market for a while but now it has completely sped up and surpassed every other year though that real estate has been in existence up here," Inniss said in an interview from her home in Port Carling, Ont.
Inniss, who represents the Muskoka, Haliburton, Orillia and Perry Sound regions, said she started to see a surge in May of people living in the Toronto area expressing interest in buying cottages.
"We were hearing that there was pent up demand. It's been a seller's market, meaning that there are not enough properties for the number of buyers that we have for the last several years, but it's just been more extreme this year," Inniss explained.
However, Inniss said she expected the increase in cottage purchases this year.
"We were hearing stories about people living in condos in the city, and not being able to get out anywhere to a public park, even being concerned about walking on the sidewalk so we thought if anybody's been thinking about it, then now would be the time that they would be pursuing buying a cottage," Inniss said.
With many people now working from home, Inniss said they've realized they can now work from anywhere as long as they have a decent Wi-Fi connection.
"There's so much more telecommuting now, I think employers have gotten past the idea that it's not productive and found out that it's very productive," Inniss said. "So people might be turning to having a place that they can come to on occasion in Toronto, in a city, and then living up here [in cottage country]."
Inniss said the uncertainty of the stock market amid the pandemic has also pushed Canadians to reconsider what they are investing their money in.
"I think people started thinking that they want something more solid and being able to enjoy your investment and live and work in your investment," she explained.
While purchasing any property may still be out of reach for those financially impacted by the pandemic, Inniss said Canadians' travel budgets could provide the start of a down payment.
She added that a halt on travel also has Canadians looking to spend more time exploring their own backyard.
"They're interested in the experience of enjoying the Canadian forest, our beautiful lakes... the whole experience, and they also are wondering what they will be doing with their travel budget," Inniss said. "It's a question mark when people will be able to travel again and I think people are looking at investing in real estate here rather than further south."
For those currently looking to purchase a property in cottage country, Inniss recommends potential buyers work with a realtor in the area, rather than an agent from the city.
"We hear lots of sad stories and sometimes horror stories about [people] bringing in agents from other areas that don't know how to go about being successful in real estate purchases here," Inniss said.
"If you have an association with an agent say in the city or wherever you live, then you could always get a referral to an agent. They can help you do your homework and find a good agent here."