Mon­treal en­joy­ing a hot real es­tate mar­ket



MON­TREAL -- The Mon­treal real es­tate mar­ket is on a roll.

Res­i­den­tial sales rose eight per cent in Septem­ber com­pared to the same month last year, with con­do­mini­ums mak­ing up the bulk of the in­crease, ac­cord­ing to the Greater Mon­treal Real Es­tate Board.

The 3,220 home sales rep­re­sent a nineyear high for the month of Septem­ber.

The me­dian price of sin­gle-fam­ily homes hit $336,000, up seven per cent year-overyear. Du­plexes and sim­i­lar multi-unit dwellings jumped six per cent to $504,000, while con­dos climbed four per cent to $263,000.

Sales have been in­creas­ing for 43 months straight, said real es­tate board pres­i­dent Nathalie Be­gin.

Mort­gage stress tests and higher in­ter­est rates im­posed over the past year haven't damp­ened Mon­treal's real es­tate mar­ket, even as sales have slowed in Van­cou­ver and Toronto.

In Van­cou­ver, year-over-year sales dropped from Fe­bru­ary through Au­gust. A 20 per cent for­eign buy­ers' tax, a height­ened ed­u­ca­tion tax on $3-mil­lion-plus prop­er­ties and a pro­posed spec­u­la­tion tax have all put the brakes on home-buy­ing, said Brad Henderson, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sotheby's In­ter­na­tional Re­alty Canada. "It's pro­vin­cial in­ter­ven­tion," he said. "There is also the fear for many buy­ers that the prices are maybe too high," said Paul Car­di­nal, man­ager of mar­ket anal­y­sis at the Greater Mon­treal Real Es­tate Board. "This is a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion that we don't have in Mon­treal."

There, strong mi­gra­tion, con­sumer con­fi­dence, eco­nomic growth and pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture projects as well as low unem­ploy­ment are fu­elling the surge, he said. "It's a seller's mar­ket." Ris­ing in­ter­est rates could dull the spike, "but then again, it maybe has a coun­ter­in­tu­itive ef­fect," Car­di­nal said.

"There are some other peo­ple who de­cided that it was the time -- now or never -- to buy a prop­erty, be­cause now the in­ter­est rates are go­ing up and prices are still go­ing up, so if you wait six months or one year from now maybe you'll pay more."

Year-over-year condo sales leaped 23 per cent to 1,206 trans­ac­tions in Septem­ber.

"Be­fore, peo­ple were get­ting con­dos be­cause that was the only thing they felt they could af­ford. Now there's a wider range of condo forms and val­ues, so peo­ple are find­ing it more at­trac­tive," Henderson said.

A broader range of buy­ers is fan­ning de­mand, in­clud­ing first-time home­buy­ers, young fam­i­lies, in­vestors and peo­ple that are buy­ing homes more ap­pro­pri­ate for their needs.

Sin­gle-fam­ily home sales in Septem­ber sat vir­tu­ally un­changed at 1,660. Year-overyear sales of plexes nudged up one per cent to 349.

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