Buying a Rental Cottage – Setting the Criteria

P1040766 Given the great success we’ve had with our current vacation rental property, Osprey Cottage , we are now embarking on the search for a clone. I wish! Osprey is a fabulous rental and out of the five we’ve owned over the past ten years, it has been the top producer with an average 43 bookings annually. Since Ontario cottage rentals are very summer-focused and the low and shoulder seasons can present quite a challenge, we appear to be doing it right, and I want to reproduce this success with the next one.

Before even looking at the MLS listings we want to settle on the criteria so as not to waste the time of our realtor or our own time and energy so we began by looking back over the past 7 years of rental – checked out the reviews to see what makes it so popular and came up with this list of must have’s in our next purchase:

Waterfront must be swimmable but doesn’t have to be pristine lake. Osprey Cottage is on a river and there is no access to the nearby lake because of rapids. This does not deter rental guests and has no impact on occupancy. Water should be weed free.

Winterised & accessible in winter months. Osprey has shown healthy occupancy in the winter months with every weekend booked since December this year so the new cottage must be accessible and available in winter.

Well as water source. We have never had a problem with freezing of water lines or any pump issues. It’s also easier to get a mortgage here if the water source is a well.

Minimum 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. This seems the optimum size of property. The current place is about 1500 sq ft, will accommodate up to 7 people and rents at $1850 in high season and $1100 a week in low season, and this is what we will be looking for in a new place.

Less than 2.5 hours from Toronto. TO is our nearest city and is where most of our guests come from. To ensure we benefit from the weekend rental market, it cannot be more than two and a half hours away and less would be better. Less than 6kms from the nearest main road will reduce issues with winter access.

Relatively private. The reviews for Osprey Cottage comment on the high level of privacy and since 70% of our guests are repeats, this is a real draw for them.

High Speed Internet available. This was never in our radar for previous properties but is now becoming a deal-breaker for many guests and having it installed at Osprey has really boosted occupancy.

We are looking in the same area as our current cottage, simply because it’s close to our home and it makes it easier to set up and manage. However our first few cottages were bought in Ontario when we still lived in UK, so I woudn’t be averse to looking further afield.

I’ll be documenting the process this time and would love to hear from anyone else out there who is looking to buy/rent out. Let’s share the ups and downs.