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Montreal Real Estate Pushes Ahead

 

By DORN TOWNSEND

Published: June 11, 2010

MONTREAL — When Patrice Groleau began selling a proposed condo development this spring, he thought it would take about a year to sell all 100 units — even though the site is in Montreal’s historic old city and the project will have all the latest amenities.

 

Half the apartments sold in the first month on the market.

 

“The last few years have been mostly good for real estate, but this year has been phenomenal,” said the 33-year-old broker, who works for McGill Immobilier. “Some of the buyers are from elsewhere but 95 percent are local young professionals. A lot of them will buy several units or whole blocks of apartments.”

 

Real estate markets in many cities around the world are still in the doldrums, but in Montreal, Canada’s second largest city, with 1.9 million residents, the downtown area is experiencing a boom and buying frenzy last seen more than a generation ago. Brokers say that new listings in desirable central neighborhoods can receive multiple offers within hours of going up for sale.

 

Since 2003, when the present rush began, 5,500 to 7,000 new condo units have been hitting the market each year. Many of these homes are downtown in new mid-rise developments.

 

According to the Montreal Real Estate Board, the median price of downtown condos has risen about 9 percent over the period, to 210,000 Canadian dollars, or about $198,000. While some downtown addresses can command as much as 1,000 dollars a square foot, in May the average price per square foot in the central city was about 350 dollars.

 

“A lot of the new units downtown are for people in the suburbs looking to downsize, but you also get about 8 percent of sales going to foreigners,” said René Lépine, president of Groupe Lépine, one of the largest developers of downtown residential housing in the city. “I haven’t seen this kind of activity in the city center since the 1970s, when we had the Olympics.”

 

Montreal’s real estate board reported that prices were up 8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, with sales up 54 percent.

 

While there is disagreement over whether such growth is sustainable, demand is being driven by historically low interest rates, with a five-year fixed-rate mortgage going for about 3.8 percent.

 

In an attempt to pop what many fear is an expanding housing bubble, the Bank of Canada in April began requiring purchasers to put down 20 percent on investment properties. Brokers, however, say such rules are easily skirted with interim financing.

 

And in the two years since the global economic downturn, Canada’s big-five banking oligopoly has continued granting loans for real estate. But, like in the United States, these banks seldom hold on to the mortgages, instead passing them on to a government entity called the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., which insures buyers against defaults.

 

Since 2005, the agency’s liabilities have grown to around 400 billion dollars from about 80 billion dollars. But many of the new homes insured by this national agency are the tiny studios and one-bedroom units like those in Montreal’s downtown towers.

 

That easy financing helped turn Montreal’s real estate scene into something of a Sleeping Beauty story. For decades the city had a lot of real estate for sale, partly because of the departure of several hundred thousand English-speaking residents from 1976 to 1978 because they feared Quebec might become an independent French-speaking country.

 

Afterward, prices rose slowly, and then took off in recent years.

 

“I’m not one of those annoying people who say that Montreal is the best city,” said Ariane Truong, 30, a Montreal native who spent several years in London working as an architect for SOM. “But there’s this intangible, aesthetic quality here these days and when you’re in other cities, you notice that quality is missing.”

 

Two years ago Mrs. Truong returned to her hometown, paying about 350,000 dollars for a refurbished 950-square-foot, or 88-square-meter, one-bedroom condo in the old city. The building incorporates part of the stone fortifications built from 1717 to 1738 to protect Montreal from native Indians and English attackers.

 

Until recently many residents had spurned the area as a tourist magnet. These days the tourists still are ever-present, but the old warehouses have been converted into apartments with ground-floor cafes and restaurants. A mix of young professional residents has returned to live and work.

 

A small but important part of the market is composed of foreign clients who buy into the city for its particular rhythm.

 

Diane Urbain, 28, a transplant from Paris, is typical of the group. She and her husband spent about 520,000 dollars on a 1,600-square-foot cottage in the Plateau, a large neighborhood of row houses known for its public squares and cafes.

 

The French consulate says about 100,000 French citizens are living in Montreal.

 

“When I first arrived here as a student, I thought I’d never leave Paris,” Mrs. Urbain said “But I’ve come to love the way of life of this city.” She talked about the nearby parks where her children play and about biking to work. Vélo Québec, a cycling advocacy group, says that nearly 20 percent of downtown residents use bicycles as a primary means of transport.

 

Yet the French are not the only people who choose Montreal.

 

This year, almost all the units in one new high-end condo tower downtown were sold to Lebanese. The developer marketed heavily in Beirut, and many purchases were made as investments or as homes for children attending universities in Montreal.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/greathomesanddestinations/11iht-remon.html

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Montreal Real Estate Pushes Ahead

 

This year, almost all the units in one new high-end condo tower downtown were sold to Lebanese. The developer marketed heavily in Beirut, and many purchases were made as investments or as homes for children attending universities in Montreal.

 

 

Je lève mon verre à mes amis libanais! :highfive::highfive:

 

J'affectionne cette communauté particulièrement. Ils contribuent énormément à l'essor de Montréal.

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Je lève mon verre à mes amis libanais! :highfive::highfive:

 

J'affectionne cette communauté particulièrement. Ils contribuent énormément à l'essor de Montréal.

 

Ha! You say that now. I can't wait to see how many of you are going to complain about "Canadians of convenience" next time conflict erupts in Lebanon and Canada has to evacuate a bunch of its citizens...despite the fact that most of them are there on vacation!

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A lot of them are Canadians of convenience. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Lebanese people, but you can't deny that a very large number of those who hold dual citizenship are nothing more than citizens of convenience. When war breaks out in Lebanon, they ask Canadian taxpayers to bail them out.

Edited by MTLskyline
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:relieved: Qui peut blâmer ceux qui tentent de profiter du meilleur de deux mondes? S'ils paient leurs taxes, respectent les lois du pays et s'intègrent bien au milieu tout en offrant en prime le partage de la langue, que souhaiter de plus?

 

La double nationalité est un privilège extraordinaire qui protège davantage le citoyen notamment en cas de conflit dans l'autre pays. N'oublions pas que les canadiens possèdent eux aussi des propriétés à l'extérieur et particulièrement aux USA.

 

Bien qu'ils n'aient pas la double nationalité, ils contribuent par leur investissement à l'économie américaine et sont pour l'extrême majorité des citoyens (résidents) modèles que tout pays rêve d'attirer.

 

Considérons-nous comme chanceux d'être nés dans un pays comme le Canada où les droits sont respectés, où la vie est facile et relativement prospère, où la sécurité n'est pas un problème et où les rêves sont encore possibles.

 

Mais admettons que nous n'avons fait aucun effort réel pour mériter cet heureux sort. Alors ayons un peu de compassion pour tous ces gens qui tentent de refaire leur vie dans un monde qui leur parait meilleur.

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A lot of them are Canadians of convenience. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Lebanese people, but you can't deny that a very large number of those who hold dual citizenship are nothing more than citizens of convenience. When war breaks out in Lebanon, they ask Canadian taxpayers to bail them out.

 

Bullshit. Of all those evacuated in 2006, a very small number resided permanently in Lebanon. The vast majority were Canadian residents vacationing in their country of origin and who couldn't return home because the airport was closed for over a month and Israel had imposed a blockade.

 

So yes, I can very well deny it.

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Bullshit. Of all those evacuated in 2006, a very small number resided permanently in Lebanon. The vast majority were Canadian residents vacationing in their country of origin and who couldn't return home because the airport was closed for over a month and Israel had imposed a blockade.

 

So yes, I can very well deny it.

I have proof, you don't.

 

Of the 15,000 Canadians evacuated, about 7,000 returned to Lebanon within a month of being evacuated.

 

Some 40,000 Canadians were registered with the embassy in Lebanon when the war broke out in July. Ottawa estimates it spent more than $85-million to evacuate about 15,000 of them to Canada, according to an official in Foreign Affairs who gave what was described as an estimate. Reports suggest 7,000 evacuees have since returned to Lebanon.

 

The movement to revisit dual citizenship is drawing support on both sides of the Commons.

 

"I've always questioned dual citizenship -- and I'm the former minister," said Ontario Liberal MP Judy Sgro, a Liberal immigration minister between 2003 and 2005. "We've paid all that money to evacuate all those people, and now 7,000 of them have gone back."

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=fb2d75ab-8880-4945-8537-1508186a4964&k=61921

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