The title to this blog post has to be the best saying since the award winning movie starring Tom Hanks that I have heard when someone is trying to warn you that something terrible is going to happen if you proceed. Well I was told to run last summer when I found the perfect cottage up in the mini hills of Bracebridge. By fluke we decided to spend a few days on a resort and found 4 cottages down by the river, very secluded with great views of the water and the landscape in general. Now, I'm no expert when it comes to real estate values in Muskoka but I never would have thought I could have had this sweet 3 bedroom fully renovated house for only 150k! Again, allow me to repeat myself, asking 150k! This place was a house not a cottage built on 3/4 of acreage with riparian rights to boot.
It sounded too good to be true and when it sounds this sweet it usually is. The 4 cottages in question are located right in the middle of a larger parcel of land that belongs to a resort, access to the 4 cottages is through a private road that goes right in the middle of where all the children play while visiting the resort, here is the kicker, the private road has been deeded as seasonal access and not all year. The cottage I wanted to buy was built with brick and was winterized so you could enjoy it throughout the winter, the only problem is that the owner of the resort closes the road down and will not allow open access. I actually witnessed him closing the gate and refusing guests of the cottage access during our stay. This resulted in the cottage owners to come over and confront the resort proprietor, I can also tell you that the police had to get involved as the confrontation didn't bold well for the resort owner. He ended up getting arrested for whatever reason.
My lovely girlfriend who is also a Realtor suggested we visit the home one more time before we proceeded. It sounded like a good idea so I agreed and we headed back up the next weekend, we even took my mom up with us so she could chime in on the opportunity. Our second visit only strengthened how much we liked this cottage and my mom fell in love, that's really rare as my mom is a savvy real estate investor and she likes to explore other options before pulling the trigger
This was looking so good and then I realized why this cottage was so cheap. The idea of four parcels of land being landlocked is not possible and highly unlikely; this is why I was still interested in buying this place. My plan was to negotiate a deal for access to the road throughout the off season with the owner of the resort. After all, I am a Toronto Realtor who knows how to negotiate. I had a great strategy and was ready to offer on the property. I had the offer drafted and had called the listing agent, as I waited for the listing agent to call me back my lawyer called me and asked me to come see him prior to presenting the offer, I had called him previously asking his opinion about the whole deal. In the meantime the listing agent called me back and we began to chat, as soon as the agent heard that I was a Toronto real estate agent he began to spill his beans and disclosed all the issues, the main issue is a huge law suit from the four cottage owners against the resort owner. I had told the agent that I had a conditional offer and I was going to speak to legal counsel prior to presenting the offer.
To make a long story short my lawyer took it upon himself and searched title, he found many pending law suits and judgments, what I was buying was a law suit and not a cottage. All these legal issues; and for what? Just to have seasonal access through the resort. What a shame!
The lesson here is when something smells funny, it usually is!