As both a vacation paradise and a safe, productive place to invest, the region is one of the world’s best investments for foreign buyers.
In January 2023, the Canadian government enacted a sweeping ban against the purchase of residential property by foreign buyers, ostensibly to make residential properties more affordable for Canadian buyers. Since its enactment, there has been a lot of misunderstanding about just what the ban means.
But there’s good news, according to Cayman Marshall representative and Certified Commercial Investment Member Rain Zhang. Not only are there still excellent opportunities in Canada for investors and vacationers from out of country, but some of the best are right here in Muskoka.
First, let’s take a closer look at what the ban on foreign ownership actually means, says Zhang. It’s important to note that the ban specifically exempts vacation properties, vacant land, and mixed-zone and some other types of commercial properties. For all these reasons, Muskoka remains one of the best, safest, and potentially highly profitable, options for almost every type of foreign investor.
Zhang knows what she’s talking about: as a CCIM-certified realtor, Zhang has been accredited with a commercial global standard endowed by the National Association of Realtors signifying specialized expertise in international commercial real estate. Canada, she says, is easily the most stable of all the G7 countries politically, especially compared to the U.S., traditionally the world leader when it comes to many kinds of foreign investment.
Recently, the U.S. enacted a foreign buyers’ ban of its own, one that is much harsher than Canada’s. Some 12 U.S. states passed controversial laws that have actively banned Chinese nationals from purchasing property, and require those who currently own property there to sell by 2025 or face penalties and even potential expropriation.
Political unrest in some European countries, such as France, has made these areas less desirable to investors as well. And some Asian countries, apart from being very far away geographically from the action, are suffering inflationary, economic and other capital-negative woes. “Many capital investors are sensitive to security issues; Canada is a relatively safe haven for all these reasons,” says Zhang.
Muskoka shares with Niagara Falls the distinction of being a world-recognized tourist Mecca – not just in the last few decades, but throughout a history that now spans well over 150 years. Almost from the time it was first discovered, it’s been a beloved vacation destination for generations of cottagers, hikers, sportsmen, tourists, and golfers.
The full region sprawls over more than 6,500 square kilometres – larger than some European countries. It’s also one of the most beautiful and still pristine places on the planet, with more than 1600 lakes and mile after mile of unspoiled wilderness. It’s no wonder the likes of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, Cher, Cindy Crawford, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and sports heroes like Wendell Clark, all cherish their Muskoka vacation properties.
Zhang describes two properties that are currently available through Cayman Marshall International Realty that she feels are particularly well-suited to a foreign investor. “Both of these properties feature exceptional value, and have incredible potential for both out-of-country investors, and those who just want to enjoy the exceptional beauty and way of life that is Muskoka,” she says.
The Pines Private Island, a 27-acre island on legendary Georgian Bay, has already been severed for subdivision into four well-proportioned lots, making it ripe for redevelopment. An investor could build finished cottages and resell some or all of the lots separately, or simply enjoy the island’s consummate privacy and beauty as a private vacation retreat.
At a price of only five million Canadian dollars, Pines Island also offers an excellent opportunity for land banking for future development. “Land is one thing they are not making any more of in Muskoka,” says Zhang. “And especially in the stable economical environment we enjoy in Ontario, land always increases in value.”
The other property, she explains, provides an opportunity of a quite different kind. Consisting of a 48-acre plot in the heart of Port Carling, the property is zoned for both commercial and residential use, setting it up for a number of potential investments. (“The fact that it’s already zoned for development is a plus,” notes Zhang, “as this can often be a time-consuming step.”)
Port Carling is one of the most important centres in Muskoka, originally founded as a logging town because of its prime location at the joining of two of Muskoka’s three big lakes, Joseph and Rosseau. In summer, Port Carling is a lively tourist centre, with great shopping, dining, and local attractions.
“This property would make an excellent site for a small community or neighbourhood, with a mix of townhomes and small shops. It could also make a fantastic restaurant, hospitality or vacation attraction. Because of its location so close to the centre of Port Carling, it’s also an excellent investment for land banking as well,” Zhang says.
Right now is a great time for out-of-country buyers to take a look at Muskoka’s potential as both a safe, secure and attractive business investment, and a welcoming vacation destination.
“I’d like to extend a personal welcome to our foreign visitors,” says Zhang. “You’ll see why Muskoka has been attracting investing clientele from all over the world; there really is a world of options here.
“It’s like a well-kept secret – that isn’t so secret any more.”