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Real Estate Talk:
Purchasing a Country Home

Considerations when buying a country home or second residence

By Joseph Marovitch

Updated June 17, 2020

A second residence in the mountains and/or by the lake is a dream retreat for many. It is a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of city life, especially now. It is an escape from work and the daily grind, a change of scenery, a place to rest and gather one’s thoughts, or think of nothing. It can also be fun and exciting. A mountain retreat can provide hiking trails, swimming, sailing, waterskiing, alpine skiing, bonfires at night and stars, lots of stars.

When considering a country home to purchase, there are factors that come into play that would not otherwise, if you were purchasing in the city. Most country homes are not in or near a town, therefore the house must have its own well for water and septic tank for septic situations. If the property you are searching for has waterfront, many more factors come into play such as, is the lake navigable or non-navigable (motors boats allowed or not)? Does the lake have an entrance and an exit, or is it sedimentary (meaning not enough oxygen enters the lake to make it liveable and drinkable)?

When considering a country home to purchase, there are factors that come into play that would not otherwise, if you were purchasing in the city.

When searching for a country home, these are the questions that must be answered:

  1. How far do you want to drive from the city?
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  2. Do you want lakefront?
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  3. Proximity to your neighbours? Most buyers of second homes want privacy as this is your getaway home.
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  4. If lakefront, do you want motorboats or no motorboats?
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  5. Proximity to ski hills and towns?
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  6. Number of bedrooms, bathrooms?

Once you have found that perfect home, the items to inspect and consider are:

  1. Condition of the house via a regular inspection
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  2. When was the chimney last cleaned and inspected?
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  3. Water test to ensure the well is clean and the water is potable (drinkable)
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  4. Lake water test to ensure the lake water is bacteria safe for swimming
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  5. Ensure the septic tank is the right size, based upon the number of bedrooms in the house
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  6. Ensure the septic tank has been emptied. Most municipalities require the septic tank be emptied every 4 years if the house is a second residence and every two years if it is a permanent residence.
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  7. Does the house have a working sump pump? A sump pump is a device placed in the basement of the house, below the floor. When the water table rises in the spring, the sump pump automatically pumps the rising water out and away from the house to keep it dry. A sump pump is usually required for homes by a lake.

Finally, the tax implication. In Canada a primary residence upon selling, is tax-free. Yes, you keep it all. A second residence is considered a luxury item and is therefore not tax-free. Upon selling a second residence, any gain is considered a capital gain and is taxed on 50% of the gain. If you paid $100,000 for the country home and later sold the property for $150,000, you would be taxed on 50% of the gain or on $25,000. The tax you must pay is dependant upon your income, therefore it is always a good idea to purchase the second home and place it in the name of the person in your household who has the least income, to pay less tax.

Should you have questions or comments, please refer to the comments section at the bottom of the page. As well, to view past articles, click here.

Next article: Effective property pricing to maximize gain


State of the market

The bank of Canada reduced the prime lending rate to 1.99%. Now is a good time to refinance your mortgage, take a loan, or sell a property since a buyer can acquire a low lending rate to purchase.

The market in Montreal is slow but steady and rising. However, there has been an upward trend in purchasing property outside the city. If the intention is to purchase a 2nd home by the lake or in the mountains with a little privacy and solitude, this is a wonderful idea. Space in the city is limited and demand for property outside the city is rising. This means that not only are there tremendous benefits to mountains and fresh air, but the investment is likely to grow as well. This means the price of country property will rise over the long run. Owners can sell for a profit at a later date or borrow against the property for other needs.

The bank of Canada reduced the prime lending rate to 1.99%. Now is a good time to refinance your mortgage, take a loan, or sell a property since a buyer can acquire a low lending rate to purchase.

If the intention is to live in one of the charming Laurentian or Eastern Township towns, be cautious. In St-Sauveur this past week, the terraces and bars were crowded. Social distancing did not appear to take place and masks were far and few to be seen. One would think the residents believe there is no longer a problem or that they have immunity to COVID-19. The pandemic is not over. There is no cure at this time and a 2nd wave may hit harder than the 1st wave. All one must do is visit a Montreal or Laurentian hospital to see how grave the situation is.

Be cautious and take care. Some of us do not believe something is real until it hits us or those close to us. This is an awful way to experience a reality check.

Stay safe and have a peaceful weekend!


Let’s not forget that people with cancer are vulnerable too!

You are invited to keep giving to the following organizations since it’s now more important than ever to support cancer research! Click on the logos below to find out how:

logo Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada - WestmountMag.ca

Cancer Research Society


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Other articles by Joseph Marovitch


Joseph Marovitch - WestmountMag.ca

Joseph Marovitch has worked in the service industry for over 30 years. His first career was working with families from Westmount and surrounding areas, hosting children between the ages of 6 to 16 as the owner and director of Camp Maromac, a sports and arts sleep away summer camp established in 1968. Using the same strengths caring for the families, such as reliability, integrity, honesty and a deep sense of protecting the interests of those he is responsible for, Joseph applies this to his present real estate broker career. Should you have questions please feel free to contact Joseph Marovitch at 514 825-8771, or josephmarovitch@gmail.com


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