Will rising gas prices drive a wedge in Canadians' cottage plans this summer?

    - Royal LePage survey finds recreational property prices continue
    to rise -

    TORONTO, June 5 /CNW/ - Despite rising cottage and gas prices, the number
of Canadians committed to owning their own getaway retreat has increased since
last summer, with 12 per cent of Canadians planning to or considering buying a
recreational property in the next three years, according to the 2007 Royal
LePage Recreational Property Report released today.
    However, the rising prices at the pumps may trump the passions of some,
as almost one quarter (23%) of Canadian cottage owners will reduce the number
of trips they make to their cottages this summer, while 12 per cent of owners
may consider selling their property if gas prices continue to rise.
    The 2007 Royal LePage Recreational Property report comprises a nationwide
research poll of Canadian cottage owner and buyer attitudes and actions
(conducted by Maritz Research) and an extensive 51-market analysis of
recreational property prices, trends and activity in selected leisure markets
across Canada.
    Those looking to buy recreational properties will find more affordable
properties in the east, as balanced markets and anticipated new developments
characterize the majority of Atlantic Canada, while stronger demand and
cottage prices that commonly inch up toward $500,000 typify Ontario's market.
Looking west to Alberta and British Columbia, cottage seekers will find some
of the country's most expensive cottage real estate, accompanied by very tight
inventory levels.
    "Our research reveals that the demand for recreational property continues
to far exceed supply across Canada, causing cottage prices to rise at a much
quicker rate than the overall housing market. A standard waterfront, land
access property increased by 13 per cent over the past year, with properties
ranging from under $100,000 to over $1 million," said Phil Soper, president
and CEO, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. "Families are managing the
affordability challenge with creativity and personal flexibility. Prospective
purchasers on a budget can still find a cottage or cabin, but they may have to
accept a longer weekend commute, seek alternate ownership options or subsidize
ownership through rental income."

    Just how far will Canadians go to buy into cottage life?

    The poll findings reveal that of those who are planning to or would
consider purchasing a cottage, 49 per cent are willing to move into a smaller
more affordable house in order to afford a cottage and 32 per cent are willing
to take on a second job in return for lakeside living.
    Other sacrifices to afford a cottage include making the cottage one's
primary residence (49%), driving as far as necessary to get to the cottage
(50%) and using the cottage to generate rental income during the year (53%).
    For some, cottage ownership will come down to the luck of the draw. When
Canadians who intend to buy were asked, "Does the prize of a cottage entice
you to play hospital or foundation fundraising lotteries?" 16 per cent
answered yes.

    Why the urge to purge city life?

    Even with the possibility of a more costly fill up at the gas station and
more time in the car, Canadians who plan to or would consider purchasing a
cottage cite that enjoying the outdoors (31%), escaping from the hustle of
city life (30%) and spending quality time with their friends and family (29%)
keep them heading to cottage country.

    Wired at the beach

    With the booming trend of satellite offices and instant messaging
capabilities, being 'wired' at the cottage is of utmost importance to some
cottage owners and purchasers. Poll findings show that 22 per cent of
respondents consider having Internet access a deal breaker in terms of
importance, as they work from the cottage. The poll revealed that 20 per cent
of parents who are cottage owners said that the Internet is not important to
them while at the cottage, but it is to their children. Interestingly, the
poll found that 69 per cent of parents who own cottages cite that part of the
reason they go to the cottage is to 'unplug' their kids and have them spend
time outdoors.
    For other Canadians, escaping to the cottage can be a form of rehab, if
only temporary, allowing them to kick their 'Crackberry' habits. When cottage
owners were asked, "Do you check your Blackberry device when on vacation at
the cottage?" 33 per cent of respondents claimed they take a complete break
from using the gadget. However, for seven per cent (7%), the addiction is too
strong and they admit to checking their handheld device while indulging in
some rest and relaxation.

                           ADDITIONAL POLL FINDINGS

    -   It seems that the cottage experiences of childhood have a profound
        impact on many Canadians as the poll finds that 59 per cent of
        Canadians who own or may soon own a recreational property grew up
        spending time at a cottage. Half of Canadian cottage owners and
        intenders (50%) spent summers at family or friends' cottages, while
        11 per cent enjoyed time at rental properties.

    -   When it comes to matters of the heart, negotiations could become
        trickier for divorce lawyers. When asked, "In the instance of a
        divorce settlement would you choose to receive the primary residence
        or the cottage?" the properties were almost equally favoured, with
        39 per cent of current cottage owners and those likely to or planning
        to purchase a cottage choosing the primary residence, and 33 per cent
        opting for the cottage.

    -   Gas allowances aside, among Canadians planning to purchase or among
        those who would consider purchasing a cottage, 15 per cent have
        budgeted to spend between $200,000 and $500,000, while one per cent
        plan to spend between $500,000 and $1 million, and two per cent of
        respondents have budgeted $1 million or more for their lavish slice
        of heaven. The majority of Canadians who intend to purchase a
        recreational property have budgeted less than $200,000.

                   2007 Recreational Property Price Summary
                          Average Price by Province
                   Standard Waterfront, Land Access Cottage
    PROVINCE                     AVERAGE PRICE           AVERAGE PRICE RANGE
    Prince Edward Island            $  225,000           $100,000 - $350,000
    New Brunswick                   $  146,625            $96,000 - $197,250
    Nova Scotia                     $  149,700            $59,900 - $239,500
    Newfoundland                    $   86,500            $71,000 - $102,000
    Quebec                          $  525,000           $416,667 - $633,333
    Ontario                         $  469,500           $311,826 - $627,174
    Manitoba                        $  382,333           $248,000 - $516,667
    Saskatchewan                    $  250,000                      $250,000
    Alberta                         $  737,500           $675,000 - $800,000
    British Columbia                $1,009,083         $621,500 - $1,396,667
    National Average Cottage        $  427,589
    Source: Royal LePage, averages are based on the examination of select
            recreational markets in each province.

    About Maritz Research

    Maritz Research conducted the poll portion of the Royal LePage
Recreational Property Report, with fieldwork completed on May 28, 2007. The
poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 3,012 adult Canadians with a
total of 671 Canadian respondents who qualified for the study. With a sample
of this size, the results are considered accurate to within +/-3.78%, 19 times
out of 20, of what they would have been, had the entire adult Canadian
population been polled.

    About Royal LePage

    Royal LePage is Canada's leading provider of franchise services to
residential real estate brokerages, with a network of over 12,600 agents and
sales representatives in 600 locations across Canada operating under the Royal
LePage, Johnston & Daniel, and Realty World brand names. Royal LePage manages
the Royal LePage Franchise Services Fund, a TSX listed income trust, trading
under the symbol "RSF.UN."
    For more information visit www.royallepage.ca.

For further information:

For further information: For the regional market highlights or to
contact a spokesperson, please contact: Tiffany Fisher, Mansfield
Communications Inc., Phone: (416) 599-0024, Or e-mail: tiffany@mcipr.com

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