People are looking all over for someplace to buy
The great thing about Montreal is, ‘it’s a city of neighbourhoods,’ and options are unlimited
The house is beautiful – a gracious, high-ceilinged Victorian dwelling built in 1890 with solid double brick construction, ornate woodwork and light-filled rooms. You might easily find it on a leafy street in Westmount or Outremont.
Except the Irishman who first owned the house and after whom May Street is named, built his stately home on the last street in Verdun. Today there’s a blank wall across the street; above it rises the overpass that brings traffic to the Champlain Bridge.
None of this matters to the homeowner, who bought the place 11 years ago and restored it to its original splendour. But now that she wants to sell the place, she’s discovering a truth of real estate – location matters.
“For someone it’s a deal breaker, when an affordable house comes up in a difficult location,” says Mary Lamey, the real estate broker at Century 21 Vision who is selling the home. In this case, the house cost relatively little, the métro and grocery shopping are nearby and it’s just 15 minutes to downtown.
On the other side of the coin, you always want to live on the best street you can, she says. And while having the smallest house on a nice street in Westmount is great, not everybody can afford one.
Everyone has a point of view about location, says Lamey, who specializes in southwest Mont- real and the Plateau area. “Some people want to be in the heart of the action, so they choose the Plateau. Others want to live near the highway in Lachine, so they can drive quickly to the industrial park where they work, or to the airport.”
It boils down, she said, to whether you’re walk-centric, car-centric or public transit-centric. “Some people don’t care if there’s a métro nearby,” she says.
“Some want to drive to Costco and load up; others want to buy fish in one store, vegetables in another, cheese in the one after that.
“The great thing is that in Montreal you can choose any of these options because it’s such a city of neighbourhoods.”
While couples with children might prioritize a good school, Lamey says that in her experience people are willing to have their kids travel for a good school. “It’s rare for kids to walk to the neighbourhood school anymore.”
Her advice to prospective buyers is to make a wish list and then prioritize. “It’s about balancing things out. For instance, you can have that fourth bedroom, but maybe not close to the métro. Or be ready to pay more if a good neighbourhood school is important.”
And if you’re looking for a bargain, Lamey says, figure out your location by working with concentric circles. “It was around Atwater Market 10 to 15 years ago, then the circle expanded to Point St. Charles which is not undiscovered anymore, and has now moved to Verdun, then Ville Émard and Cote St. Paul,” she says. “All of this is a reaction to the expansion of the Atwater Market.”
Realize there are no bargains in the Plateau or Mile End, Lamey advises. “At this point, per square foot Mile End may be even more expensive than Outremont and now the circle there has widened into Petite Patrie, which has really become part of that area, and is slowly moving into Villeray.”
If you look at the N.D.G. area, the Monkland Village centre of the circle has now moved south of Sherbrooke St. On the other side of town, people are looking now at Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, which is cleverly described as “HoMa.”
Why are people looking all over the city for someplace to buy? Lamey believes that the low interest rates are a main factor, since you can make mortgage payments that aren’t much higher than rent would be. “Rent used to be so cheap in Montreal; it’s not cheap anymore,” she says.
It is truly a matter of lifestyle, and how much time and energy you’re able to put into fixing up a place, she says.
“I sold a house to a young couple of Verdun three years ago, a little postwar cottage, very tiny and it needed everything done, “ she says. “It didn’t cost them much, but they spared no expense fixing it up. They bought a location they loved and invested in it.”
Some people choose to be part of the vanguard, realizing a location has so much going for it and the home is just such a good buy that it’s worth putting up with a surroundings that aren’t ideal at the moment. Like the vendor with that beautiful Victorian home in Verdun, you have to decide, Lamey says, “whether you want to be part of the vanguard or wait until the neighbourhood changed.”
This Verdun home was restored to its original splendour eleven years ago. Across the street there’s a blank wall; above it rises the overpass that brings traffic to the Champlain Bridge, but the métro and grocery shopping are nearby and it’s just 15...
A restored Victorian house in Verdun. Some people choose to be part of the vanguard, realizing a location has much going for it and the home is such a good buy it’s worth putting up with the surroundings.