Need a place to build your dream in Muskoka? Maybe Gryffin Bluffs is for you.
What exactly is for sale? Who is selling it, and why?
There are actually two kinds of lots: Condo lots, and independent lots. There is a big difference between them.
The condo lots are what is officially Gryffin Bluffs. This is technically known as Muskoka Vacant Land Condominium Corporation (MLVCC) #81, which is a vacant land condominium development with 26 official units.
All the lots were sold by the developers, the last in the summer of 2017. Since all lots have been sold at least once, the condo has been ‘turned over’ to the owners, and a condominium corporation now has official responsibility instead of the developers (though as at 2018 the developers and close associates still have effective control of the condo board.) .
Each unit owns its own lot outright, plus it owns a 1/26th share in the condominium corporation that manages the ‘common elements’. These include the roads, the undeveloped parkland for trails, the gazebo at the waterfront, and the docks.
The advertising signs at the entrance to Gryffin Bluffs imply the developer still has lots for sale, but this is not the case. All lots that are now for sale are offered by those who purchased from the developers. These are typically people that bought lots intending to build here, and have since changed their mind.
One advantage of purchasing a re-sale lot is that normally HST has already been paid on the lot value, and typically a purchase now won’t involve HST. One disadvantage is that the developer may have had some legal responsibility to the original purchaser, but any guarantee, warranty or responsibility may not extend to you as the second purchaser. You would want to consult a lawyer to determine how much risk you would be taking.
It can be hard to understand the Gryffin Bluffs condo corporation. Even the existing owners may find the condo documents complex, and the unusual corporate relationships with other legal entities can be confusing. There are various unusual legal agreements affecting the condo corporation’s rights and responsibilities that are reputed to exist, but which do not appear to be readily available to unit owners. The contents of such agreements, if they exist, are therefore unknown, and even the parties to any such agreements are not disclosed. Prospective purchasers and their lawyers may therefore find the legal arrangements opaque.
In terms of direct experience, sellers of existing lots will never have attempted to live here, and, for example, may only have used the road a few times, and perhaps never on a winter night. Based on this limited experience, sellers may assure a prospective purchaser that road access is excellent, or that the condo corporation agreements are all conventional and in good order. It is not that a seller would intentionally mislead anyone, it is just that they don’t have all the information.
In addition to the 26 condo units, there are also private lots outside the condominium area, but which are adjacent to condo-owned land. These affect the condo owners because these independent owners may be able to use condo roads. It is reputed that up to an additional 14 of these private lots may have, or eventually have, the right to use condo roads. However, the condo developers have not disclosed to the condo owners which independent lots may be granted access.
These lots may contribute to road maintenance through a company controlled by the original developers. The lots did not have to contribute anything to the capital costs of the roads as condo owners effectively did, so independent owners enjoy a significant financial advantage over official condo lot owners.
However, the type of access to some independent lots may disputed. Due to the steepness of road access to some of these lots, the developers have stated to condo owners that access was only seasonal. However, the right-of-way and other agreements that have not been made available to condo unit owners may not make this clear, and independent lot owners may believe a different level of access (year-round) may have been granted. This potentially pits the property owners who may have been led to believe winter access is possible against the condo corporation, which does not regard itself as obliged to attempt to keep these road sections open, and which could not afford the necessary extremely high levels of maintenance which would be required.
Independent lot owners are not condo unit owners and so they do not have a vote. However, they may have municipal addresses that make it hard to tell them apart from condo units. These lots do not have the same costly energy-efficiency restrictions of condo lots, and may not be subject to other restrictions and costs that affect condo lots. Independent lots may also have direct, non-shared waterfront access, which is not permitted for lots within the condo.
These differences potentially make the independent lots more flexible, cheaper to build on, less costly in terms of ongoing fees, and therefore possibly more valuable.
Lots for Sale
The following lots are understood to have been available for sale, for sale now, or anticipated to be for sale in the near future. Not all lots may have been listed on the MLS. This list is not necessarily complete and may not be accurate. Always consult a realtor.
- 22 Gryffin Bluffs Lane
- 123 Gryffin Bluffs Lane
- 160 Gryffin Bluffs Lane
- 10 Ruby Lane
- 3 Stonecairn Trail
- 6 Betty Lane (includes house 80% complete)
- MPAC 444206001001000, 325′ lake frontage, 5.7 acres, Betty Lane (was water access only)
- 390 Mary Lake, 220′ lake frontage, 2.8 acres, Gryffin Bluffs Lane (was water access only)
- 400 Mary Lake, 250′ lake frontage, 2.4 acres, Gryffin Bluffs Lane (was water access only)
There are no lots for sale by the developer in Gryffin Bluffs, but re-sale lots may be available.
When looking at re-sale lots, it is important to know whether you are looking at a true condo lot, or whether it is actually an adjacent independent lot that may have a limited right to use condo roads. On the other hand, independent lots may impose fewer restrictions on what and how you can build.
Even though an independent lot may be more expensive, there are no ongoing condo fees (only potentially road fees), and what you save in avoiding the costly requirements in the condo may more than make up for the extra cost. So one lot type may be better than the other for you, all depending on your needs.
Whether independent or condo, you still need a road to your place. If you need year-round access, and can’t choose the times you come and go for work, school, or health appointments, you will need to decide if you can live with the road maintenance policies in Gryffin Bluffs. Learn more about roads.
You will want to be working with a realtor familiar with the unusual complexities of Gryffin Bluffs – it is not a normal land purchase. You’ll also want to involve a lawyer at an early stage. Make sure it is someone experienced in condo law (not just real estate) that can press for the answers you need, so you can make the right decisions on building your dream.
Other questions? Get in touch, and we’ll do our best to help you.