There are no definitive overall market patterns that emerge from the third quarter data available to us, with variations based on location and on price point. What we do see is that generally sale prices have increased along with waterfront property sales, while the days that properties are spending on the market have increased along with months of inventory. The most appropriate word to describe all of this activity is —- moderate. The available data indicates that on a broad based analysis the Muskoka and area recreational waterfront marketplace is, as compared to last year, in balance.


Here are some big picture examples of the waterfront markets:


1. Muskoka Lakes: Waterfront property sales in the Muskoka Lakes area saw 99 reported sales in the third quarter, up marginally from the 97 sales reported in 2018. Inventory levels increased causing the months of inventory to rise from 3.2 months recorded at the end of September 2018 to 4.3 months this year and accompanied by a modest increase of 5 percent in the numbers of days waterfront properties spent on the market, to 42. Interestingly the average sale price increased by 11.7 percent to almost $1,200,000.


This data includes all properties reported sold, not just properties sold on Muskoka’s big lakes, Lakes Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka.


2. Lake of Bays: Sales on Lake of Bays declined in the third quarter from 47 last year to 43 this year. Inventory levels declined dramatically which might account for the decline in sales. Last year there were 4.4 months of inventory of recreational properties, this year only 3.2 at the end of the third quarter. Surprisingly, given the decline in inventory levels the days waterfront properties spent on the market jumped from 47 to 58 this quarter. Prices increased on a year-over-year basis to $765,000. This represents an eye-popping 25 percent increase. A lot of mixed market messages in the Lake of Bays region.


3. Haliburton Area: Waterfront property sales in the Haliburton area were flat in the third quarter of this year. There were 146 reported sales, the same number that were reported sold last year. Like Lake of Bays, months of inventory increased in the region from 3.2 months to 4.3 months. Correspondingly, recreational properties spent more time on the market in the third quarter from 30.5 days last year to 34.5 this year. Unlike Lake of Bays the average sale price remained flat on a year-over-year basis in the third quarter, coming in at $465,000.


It is interesting to see how sales on Lake Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka have come in over the last three years on a year- to- date basis. This is where the regions most expensive properties are located. As a general comment it would appear that buying attention has shifted to Lake Rousseau and Lakes Joseph over the last three years.


In 2017, 169 waterfront properties were reported sold on Lake Muskoka to the end of September. In 2018 that number dropped to 132 and to 120 as at the end of September 2019. In the case of Lake Joseph there were 31 reported waterfront sales over the same period in 2017. That number dropped to 24 in 2018 only to increase to 32 this year. A similar pattern emerges for Lake Rousseau. In 2017, by the end of September, 31 waterfront properties were reported sold. As in the case of Lake Joseph sales declined to 27 in 2018 and then increased to 32 this year.


As to average sale prices for waterfront properties (having a sale price of $500,000 or more) all three Lakes have followed the same trajectory. Average sales prices declined or stayed the same between 2017 and 2018, only to see fairly substantial increases in 2019, increases that exceed average sale prices achieved in 2017. Sales on Lake Joseph made the most dramatic spike, increasing from a little over $2,560,000 in 2018 to almost $3,600,000 in 2019, the highest average sale price ever recorded. The average sale price for all waterfront properties sold (again having a sale price of $500,000 or more) increased to $2,475,782, an increase of 19 percent compared to the average sale price of $2,069,142 achieved in 2018.


Chestnut Park was once again able to capture the largest market share of all brokerage offices in the Port Carling area. Chestnut Park’s sales exceeded its next closest competitor brokerage by almost 120 percent. In the first 9 months of 2019 Chestnut Park’s sales representatives were responsible for almost a quarter of a billion dollars in real estate volume.


Looking forward, and barring my unforeseen economic disturbance, 2020 should unfold not dissimilarly to 2019 with Lake of Bays showing a marked improvement in sales. It is apparent that the demand for waterfront recreational properties has returned, and with few exceptions, average sale prices have increased.


The most dramatic increase in average sale prices were in the already highest priced lakes, no doubt because buyers at that price point are less constrained by the economic factors that impact buyers seeking to acquire waterfront properties in the less expensive regions.


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