While many Canadians dream of owning a cottage or waterfront property, buying one is not as easy as it may seem. Consider these issues before buying a cottage or waterfront property:

>> Access: Property access can affect both mortgage approvals and future uses. It may be difficult to get a mortgage on properties without access to open roads, or to a boat launch if access is by water only. Property values can be lower if there is only limited or seasonal access. Fights with neighbours can be avoided if necessary rights-of-way are reviewed by your lawyer before you buy.

>> Water supply: “Having a clean and reliable water source is essential – but often not as easy as just turning a tap,” says Kathleen Waters, a specialist in real estate law and vice president of TitlePLUS title insurance. “Your lawyer will likely recommend a potability test and can explain what it does (or doesn't) cover.”

>> Shoreline
allowance: Most land under water in Ontario is owned by the Crown, which means cottage owners cannot alter this land without obtaining permission. Also, the municipality may own the land between the cottage and the water. Cottage owners cannot just build a boathouse or dock, or change the layout of the shoreline. Your lawyer can advise you on the permissions that you need to build in the water and along the shoreline.

>> For information on what lawyers do and how to avoid fraud, as well as mortgage calculators, a locate-a-lawyer feature and other tools, go to

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