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To build or not to build? That is the question.

plans for building a house

BY MATT WEBB-SMITH — As we see the gradual reopening of businesses, restaurants and shops continuing in Grey and Bruce Counties, it seems that summer has finally arrived. And we are all learning to live more easily with what is coming to be known as 'the new normal.'

In real estate it's almost fair to say there never was an actual “normal’ as conditions change constantly depending on supply and demand, the economy in general, and sometimes even, the weather! New trends emerge all the time but recently I’ve noticed two which are becoming clear in the Grey/Bruce market.

One of these is that low inventory in our area remains an issue for buyers looking for recreational homes, or for their own “move-up” or “move-down" family needs. As a result, many prospective buyers are now looking to purchase land to build on — be it a lot, or acreage; in a country setting, or in proximity to a lake or river (all of which can/are to be found across Grey County).

Another trend growing in acceptance is that while the house might not be perfect, the lot, location and local amenities are such that buyers are specifically interested in properties with the potential to renovate. In Grey/Bruce, there are many reliable building contractors, septic and well specialists and trades of all stripes. In fact, many trades have been busier than usual this past spring as cottagers and homeowners used the lockdown as an opportunity to undertake home improvement projects.

Whether building or renovating, I tell all my clients that "you can't do it by email." A quality contractor can help you build your dream home, or turn your country property into the modern masterpiece you've always wanted. But be prepared to take a 'hands-on' approach, and take the time to oversee your build or renovation project throughout the process, to ensure the result you want.

The main thing buyers have to consider for either scenario is the financing and end-cost. When building new, financing land is not the same as when purchasing an existing home. Typically, the purchase of vacant land requires a 50% downpayment and the buyer will also need construction financing. Also, something to consider is the cost of the well and septic system, a driveway and in most cases hydro hookup. When financing the purchase of a residential property, the typical deposit would range from 5% to 20%, depending on the individual buyer's situation.

Either way, when listing or buying, the value of every property has as much to do with what's on the land, as where it sits in the region. Buyers aren't necessarily looking for the perfect home, they are also looking for the perfect place.


matt webb-smith


Matt Webb-Smith is a Licensed Realtor with Sutton-Sound Realty Inc., Brokerage.

For a free home appraisal you can contact him at


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Updated March 12, 2020.

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