For the last couple of years we had been following various cottage markets within a 3 hours drive from our home in Toronto. We tracked listings on the MLS system, familiarized ourselves with lakes, highways, and towns. Gradually we narrowed down what we were looking for. We set out a budget and our “needs” vs “wants”. And then when we finally felt like we knew exactly what we wanted, we talked to an agent only to realize that there was still much about buying a cottage we had no clue about. Fortunately one of the agents we talked to was really good. Al Boucher was knowledgeable, patient and after a few email exchanges and phone calls he was able to tune into exactly what we were looking for. He wasn’t the first agent we contacted, but he was the first one to really take us seriously. The selling season is pretty short for a cottage Real Estate Agent, with limited weekends for them to show prospective buyers around. The first agent we talked to sent us an initial batch of listings to consider, but none of the cottages matched our search criteria, and though we asked to be notified of new listings, we never heard from him again. The second agent we contacted worked in a different region than Al, and he emailed us the occasional listing to peruse, however the few listings he sent us, didn’t match our search criteria, and when we asked if he would show us listings that we had found on MLS, he would tell us that those cottages didn’t suit us for some reason or another or that the cottages where out of his area. I suspect our budget may not have made us prime candidates for either agent #1 or #2 to spend a few hours of their weekend with. Al on the other hand was happy to meet with us and show us around.
Our wish list was long. We wanted lots of privacy, good waterfront for swimming, a rustic cottage on a medium to large lake that we could improve over time. We wanted rock shoreline, instead of huge expanses of grass. We wanted a drive to cottage that wasn’t miles from the highway, and that didn’t have a scary rutted cottage road to have to negotiate.
On our first trip to Parry Sound, Al showed us three different cottages, and for the most part all of them matched the search criteria we had given him. While the first two we saw didn’t quite have as much privacy as we were looking for, the third was a home run. It was a cedar clad cottage with a walkout basement on 147 feet of beautiful rock and pine shoreline. It also had a large garage with sleeping-quarters, a shed for my tools and a log sauna at the water’s edge; all on a large private lot with beautiful granite and pine shoreline. Our only reservation was that the lake was smaller than we would have liked, but since we’re more interested in peace and quiet than water sports, we were ok with that. Ready to make an offer, we found out that there were complicated legal issues with the title on the cottage which the seller needed to resolve before the cottage could be sold. Heart-broken, we resigned ourselves to waiting to see if the legal issues would work themselves out. A few weeks went by and we got a call from Al, he had a new listing that he thought we should have a look at. We went back up to Parry Sound that weekend. This time Al had hit a grand Slam…
The cottage was an incredibly well maintained cottage from the 80’s. It was cedar clad inside and out and had 305 feet of shoreline on Lake Manitouwabing. It had been occupied by the same couple who had bought the cottage as a shell in the 80’s. They finished the inside and added the decks and docks. The cottage itself was immaculate and charming. But the lot was the real draw. It was very private with granite and pine shoreline, a natural beach (where our kid could one day learn to swim), a boat launch, a dock and a naturalized area. There was also a nice shed and a super-cute bunky. This time we didn’t even wait to get back to Toronto to make an offer. After a home inspection and some discussions with mortgage lenders and insurers, a few days later we had ourselves a deal.