Waterfront in Quinte
Waterfront in Quinte
Waterfront, Is It All The Same?
Many people look to buy waterfront properties for recreational purposes. Lately this area (The Quinte area) has become a very popular place to look, as the Muskokas have priced themselves out of the market (for average income earners anyway). You couldn't buy an outhouse there for less than $300,000 these days. With people becoming more familiar with the concept of searching for real estate on the internet, they are finding listings in areas that they wouldn't have thought to look in before.
The Quinte area has a lot of water, and therefore, a lot of waterfront. To the south, we have Prince Edward county, which is basically a little Island in Lake Ontario. We also have the Bay of Quinte, upon which the cites of Trenton and Belleville sit, and we have the Trent and Moira rivers as well as hundreds of little lakes, streams and creeks.
What's The Difference?
Some of the differences in the different types of waterfront properties are obvious and really don't merit much explanation. If you are on Lake Ontario, you can expect rougher waters at times, if you are interested in property on the Trent River, you can expect a flow, if you are on a smaller lake, you can expect a bit more tranquility.
The holy trinity of waterfront property are fishing, boating and swimming. For the most part, waterfront properties will usually allow you to do two of those three activities. Often it will be good for fishing and boating, but not swimming, or it will be good for swimming and boating, but not fishing, or even certain lakes will prohibit the use of motorized boats, but the swimming and fishing are quite good. If you find a place where all three of them are good, you can expect to pay a hefty price for it.
Quite often I will get clients from the GTA who call me because the see a cottage listed for a really good price. When they come up and see it, they wrinkle their noses because the water is a bit reedy, and most of the waterfront has bullrushes on it. I think that they sometimes expect a private sandy beach for under $200,000. This is their image of a cottage. Perhaps they went to their bosses cottage last summer and enjoyed the experience so much that now they want one of their own, and this is not what they had in mind (I suppose their boss never told them that he paid $450,000 for the place 15 years ago). City folk tend to like the swimming and boating type of waterfront, but care less for the fishing.
Another thing that people have to consider is that when you buy waterfront property, you can't just do what you want with it. Quite often the property will fall under the auspices of a local conservation authority who are more concerned with the preservation of the area than they are with your summer fun. The local authority in the Quinte area is the "Lower Trent Conservation Authority", and they are in charge of the entire watershed of the Trent River, including parts of Prince Edward County. They don't want to see the area get clogged up with the willy-nilly construction of cottages and other recreational buildings. They are concerned with the wildlife in the area, so things like septic systems and holding tanks become issues. Often building will not be permitted at all because the lot sits on a floodplain, or it might be deemed as "Provincially Significant Wetlands", or I have even seen cases where the "Endangered Species act" has come into play.
In and around Picton, you'll see some pretty gorgeous properties. Picton is the capital of Prince Edward County, and in he summer it has a bit of that English sea-side town feel to it. There's a beautiful bay and the town overlooks Lake Ontario. The rest of Prince Eward county has a bit more of a rural feel to it. There's all kinds of beaches and quaint small towns, as well as a burgeoning winery industry. It's a perfect place to get away from the city of Toronto, as it's less than a two hour drive, and travelling east along the 401 is nowhere near as frustrating as that trek up the 400. All kinds of noted chefs have started up little bistros along the "wine route" in Prince Edward County, so it's becoming quite the little hotspot for people who are interested in weekend get-aways.
Prince Edward County has a few inland lakes too, such as Lake-on-the-Mountain, Roblin Lake and Lake Consecon. Lake-on-the-Montain is a quirky little place where you can stand and look at this little lake with one eye, and then hundreds of feet below look at Hay Bay (part of Lake Ontario) with the other eye. Because of the unique properties of this lake (it really looks like it shouldn't be there) motorized boats aren't allowed on it. Lake Consecon has an odd feel to it, like you are being pulled back into the 1960's when you drive along its shores. The cottages there are nice, and it seems like the type of place where everyone would know their neighbours.
A bit further north is the Bay of Quinte. For the most part, the people who own properties on the south side of the bay work in Trenton and Belleville and make the 15 minute drive home every night. It's a really pleasant place to live, and because of the demand for this land among locals, it's priced pretty high, and really doesn't make for good cottages.
There's a few waterfront properties along the Trent River. Because of its environmentally sensitive nature, building is really restricted here. If you can find a nice cottage that's in decent shape, you've really lucked out. A lot of people seem dissapointed when they see pictures of properties there and discover that it's on a river and not a lake. However, avid fishermen know that the fishing here is better than anywhere else. Waterfront along the Trent River is really for folks who want the quieter aspects of cottaging and have an appreciation of the wildlife. The Trent River is part of the Trent Severn waterway, and there's lots of locks between Peterborough and Trenton. It's a fun place to be for people who enjoy boating and exploring, as there's a few towns along the way that are not too touristy.
Other inland lakes can be quite different. The lakes up near the "Land-O-Lakes" are famous for their pristine waters, as farming has never been allowed near them, and they are Canadian Shield Lakes, formed when the glaciers retreated back to where they came from. They are not connected to other water systems, so the experience of owning a cottage there will be quite different. The locals will be very protective about their piece of paradise. Still other lakes are run by cottage associations, and have different rules and regulations. Some lakes are really well known for their fish, while others have been fished out long ago.
Each piece of waterfront will come with its own quirks. Make sure to ask your Realtor the right qustions when you are considering buying waterfront property. Make sure that the land can be used for what you intend it to be used for. Don't get trapped into buying something that won't suit your needs. If a waterfront property seems priced well below other similar ones, find out why. As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.