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Cottages on Gull Lake near Gravenhurst, Ont. on Mar 23 2020.

Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

Home prices have spiked in resort towns, cottage country and tourist areas across most of Canada, as the pandemic’s work from home trend pushes buyers to escape the city for nature and more space.

In Ontario’s recreational markets, which include Muskoka north of Toronto and Land O’ Lakes to the east, the aggregate price of a detached house jumped 20 per cent to $450,127 in first nine months of the year over the same period in 2019, according to a report from Royal LePage.

Buyers looking for properties where they could work remotely and use as their primary residence drove up prices. The steepest increases were found in Gravenhurst, where the aggregate price rose 44.5 per cent; in Haliburton Highlands, the region bordering the southern part of Algonquin Park, where the price shot up 28.6 per cent; and in Rideau Lake, south of Ottawa, where the price rose 25 per cent.

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“The most common question used to be: Is the property west-facing? Now my clients’ biggest concern is internet quality,” Bob Clarke, realtor with Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka, said in the report.

Royal LePage said its aggregate home price is based on a weighted model using median prices. It did not provide comparable prices for real estate across the entire province, including the cities.

In Quebec’s cottage country and vacation locations, the aggregate house price climbed 14.7 per cent to $236,628, with the sharpest increase in Sutton, in the Eastern Townships, where the price jumped 36.6 per cent to $403,000, followed by Les Laurentides and Les Pays d’en haut.

In the Prairies, the aggregate house price in Lac Du Bonnet, Man., climbed 26 per cent and increased by 31.7 per cent in Christopher Lake and Emma Lake, Sask., according to the report. In B.C., the aggregate home price in the ski resort area of Whistler rose 18 per cent to $2.75-million while prices grew in the high single digits in North and Central Okanagan.

The aggregate house price increased by 8.6 per cent in Atlantic Canada’s recreational markets, with an uptick in buyers from Ontario and Quebec, as well as interest from local city residents vying to be closer to nature and water.

“There has also been an increase in buyers from Ontario and Quebec who are choosing the Maritimes as a great place to live and work remotely,” Heather FitzGerald, a realtor with Royal’s Atlantic brokerage in Moncton, said in the report.

Alberta was the only region in which the aggregate house price fell in the recreational markets, with a dip in Canmore offsetting areas closer to Edmonton. In Canmore, the recreational market closest to Calgary, the price was down almost 10 per cent to $926,000, as demand for luxury properties eased.

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But in Wabamun Lake and Lac Ste. Anne, which is closer to Edmonton, the price was up 14 per cent, according to the report.

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