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Recreational real estate: creating your own "affordable" waterfront home

Vacation home ownership at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort (pictured in photograph), recreational real estate made easy.

Recently, the government introduced HST easing measures aimed at transitioning the HST to the GST/PST. One of those initiatives is a rebate of up to $42,000  if you buy a secondary piece of real estate or “recreational” property outside the Greater Vancouver Regional District under $850,000.

Some people wondered why a stimulus was needed for recreational real estate, but it was.

It wasn't that long ago that many of us dreamed of a house on the water. A cabin, shack or a plot of waterfront land to camp on. I recall a senior from Mayne Island telling me  to “get a piece of some now, they aren't making anymore.” That was back in early 2002, and recreational real estate was becoming more valuable.

By 2005, recreational real estate on the waterfront was soaring to over a million dollars in all reasonable commutable distances from Vancouver. New models sprang up for recreational ownership: quarter share ownership, tenth share, bare land strata,  just so everyone could get their “piece.”

Now, you can pretty much pick and choose. Although you may not see advertised prices severely reduced, working with an agent that knows the areas intimately will point you to the listings that really need to sell.

Recreational real estate is hurting right now. Usually, within four to five months of a boom in Vancouver, real estate the Sunshine Coast market starts to heat up. They are still waiting at the ferry for us to arrive. What happened?

 Arizona, Nevada, and California. That's what happened.

Canadians:  "foreign buyers" in U.S. real estate

Canadians are pouring money into Arizona and Nevada and California. Stories of people buying a two-bedroom condo for $70,000 and renting it out for $200 to $300 more per month than the line of credit cost abound. The Canadian dollar at par makes it tempting. I have agents calling me from Arizona looking to connect with my Canadian clients. We are the off-shore buyers in the USA, and they welcome us.

 I went down to Arizona to check it out, and yes, it's warm and sunny, most of the time. The region has beautiful sunsets. I've never seen so many shades of brown and red. Shopping, dining, and hiking in the foothills kept me busy. I had an eerie feeling about the lack of water, though. You really need to be a golfer or shopaholic to fully benefit from a place down in Arizona. But the real estate prices can’t be beat.

Nevada has a great rental return, as there is a huge workforce in Las Vegas. But the area is perhaps not the best for family recreation property. I have heard Las Vegas is being propped up by Macau, or it too would be in a lot of trouble. An interesting statistic to look at is rent ratio. Divide the cost of the home by its rent return for a year. Nevada comes up with about a six. As for Vancouver? Over 36. 

California is always a great place  to visit and  super for surfing, but in the dead of winter it's not hot like Hawaii. There has been a downturn, but even with foreclosures, the deals are not quite as good as Arizona.

Taxes to consider when buying U.S. homes

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