OREA Real Estate College

Cottage Real Estate Transactions: Qs You Need to Ask

cottage on lake

Do you represent clients who need to escape the urban commotion (read: they would like to buy a seasonal cottage or other similar property)? Seasonal cottages, or non-winterized structures used during the summer months, are the largest categories of recreational property. Other categories include winterized/year-round cottages/homes, country homes, chalets, and hobby farms.

Regardless of the type of recreational property, if you are involved in such a transaction, you will need to know the following:

•  rural/recreational planning

•  municipal regulations

•  environmental legislation (e.g., statutory requirements regarding the installation of wells and septic systems; permits to construct waterfront wharfs, docks, and boathouses)

Following is a list of environmental-type questions you should consider when representing a client in a cottage/recreational transaction. The last sections relate to legal matters, such as surveys, easements, and encroachments, and municipal regulations. This is not a comprehensive list.

Access – Road

Is the property accessible by road or by water?

If it’s accessible by road, what kind of road?

If it’s a private road – what is the cost for maintaining it?

Is there a driveway? If yes, is it mutual or private?

If it’s private, is the right of way deeded?

Access – Water Only

Is there parking?

Where are the launching facilities?

Is the water navigable?


Who owns the shoreline? Is it privately owned or owned by the government?

Are there any issues regarding the shoreline? (e.g., closing the shoreline road allowance, improvements to the shoreline, pending applications for shoreline improvement, disputes)

Are there any structures or docks on the shoreline allowance?

Waste Disposal

Is the property serviced by sewers or a septic system?

If the property is serviced by a septic system – what size/type? Where is it located? When was it last pumped?

Water Supply

What type of water system supplies the property? Drilled well? Dug well? Water line?

When was the last water sample conducted? What are the results?

Are there any water treatment devices on the property?

Are any water lines shared with adjoining properties?

What type of pumping system is there and where is it located?

Other Environmental

What is the acid sensitivity of the nearby water?

Is the property located within conservation authority jurisdiction?

Is the property near a designated flood plain?

Is the property subject to flooding?

Has there been any landfill activity on the property?

Title and Legal Matters

Is there a survey? (If not, consider asking for one.)

Are there easements or encroachments on the property?

Are there any legal restrictions or rights?

Are there any disputes concerning property boundaries and ownership of fences?

Do improvements made to the property (if any) encroach over the property line?


Does the zoning confirm with local zoning bylaws?

Are there any building or zoning restrictions affecting the property?

Is the property subject to a site plan agreement?


In your experience, which issue have you found to be the most worrisome?



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