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Montreal Real Estate Market Update: October 2017

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Here’s what’s been happening on Montreal’s real estate market this October (a recap of the top stories published about Montreal real estate this month):

Foreign homebuyers still investing in Canada, despite foreign-buyer taxes

Vancouver and Toronto’s foreign buyer tax has done little to stall foreign interest in the cities, according to statistics pulled from a Chinese property search website. Chinese investor inquiries on have seen a 30% increase in 2017 compared to a year ago, with Canada as one of their preferred destinations. In the first half of this year, the top Canadian cities searched for by Chinese buyers were Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Victoria.

Real estate inventory in Montreal falls by 12%

Real estate prices continue to rise and inventory drops as Montreal shifts further towards a seller’s market in September. The inventory of local active listings on Centris fell 12% in September, according to the GMREB. The growth was led by the duplex and multiplex market. Meanwhile, the sales of single family homes dropped by 1% between August and September. The median price of single family homes rose by 5% this month, up to $318,000.

Housing experts discuss the final stage of National Housing Strategy design

The minister of Social Development responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) hosted a National Housing Strategy Roundtable in Ottowa on October 5th, 2017. The meeting reviewed key public and social policy elements related to the National Housing Strategy. The opinions formed at the round table helped inform many of the proposed policies and programs under the NHS, which will be announced later this fall.

Montreal-area home sales reach 8-year high in September

The real estate market in Greater Montreal reached an eight-year high this September, with 2,893 residential sales completed last month. This was a 6% increase compared to the same month last year. Four out of five metropolitan areas in Montreal experienced growth this month, led Laval which sustained a 17%  increase in sales. The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards has attributed the housing gains to a strong provincial economy and high consumer confidence. Sales on the island of Montreal increased 5%, which accounted for 45% of all area sales.

Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards plans on reforming Home Buyers’ Plan

The Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards (QFREB) has noticed a decrease in Quebec residents making use of the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), which allows first time buyers to tap into their RRSPs to purchase a home. A likely hypothesis is that first time buyers have not been able to contribute to their RRSPs at the pace at which property prices are increasing. Salary increases have not kept up with property price increases, according to the QFREB. The board plans on modernizing the HBP by relaxing certain requirements and by increasing the maximum HBP withdrawal amount to $35,000 per person.

Teranet releases House Price Index report for September 2017

In September the Teranet–National Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM reported a decrease of 0.8% from August to September. This was the largest monthly decline since September 2010. The retreat is attributed to a 2.7% drop in the Toronto market, which currently represents the country’s largest real estate market. Indexes for four other metropolitan areas of the composite index were also down on the month: Quebec City (−2.3%), Hamilton (−1.9%), Halifax (−0.4%) and Winnipeg (−0.3%). Montreal increased by 0.3%.

Fewer buyers using the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) in Quebec

In its most recent report, “A Word from the Economist,” the QFREB examined use of the Home Buyer’s Plan in Quebec. The HBP is one of the federal government’s flagship programs encouraging homeownership, which allows first time buyers to contribute a portion of their RRSP savings towards their downpayment and closing costs. Given a significant lag in Quebec when it comes to homeownership rates, the QFREB suggests that the HBP would benefit from being modernized to further help Quebec residents attain homeownership.

CMHC explores cutting red tape for self-employed borrowers

Canada’s National Housing Corporation (CMHC) is restructuring its qualification requirements in order to make it easier for self employed workers, entrepreneurs and new immigrants to attain homeownership. This involves removing some of the red tape currently required in applying for a mortgage loan.”Right now, under our mortgage insurance policies, you have to be able to document income to get mortgage insurance, to a level of specificity that discriminates against new Canadians, because they can’t do that,” reports Evan Siddall, CEO of the CMHC.

House prices reach a new high in Montreal this September

Two reports released today indicate that house prices in Montreal have reached a new high. The aggregate price of condos and homes are now $384,055, a 6.6% increase from July 1 until September 30. Of the different regions in the GMA, Central Montreal saw the highest increase. The median selling price of two-storey houses increased 7.% over the same period to $740,214, which is 19.2% higher than the period last year. With the market shifting towards a seller’s market, we can expect more competition, less inventory, and higher prices across the board.

New stress-test regulations for uninsured mortgages

This Tuesday, Canada’s federal banking regulator introduced new regulations which extend stress tests to all homebuyers, including those contributing more than 20% towards their downpayment. Under the new guidelines, borrowers will need qualify for the minimum qualifying rate equal to the greater of the Bank of Canada’s benchmark rate (which is currently set to 4.89%), or to their existing rate plus 2%.

Why do Montreal families move to the suburbs?

As part of Daybreak‘s coverage of Quebec’s municipal elections, Shari Okeke interviewed Montreal families who had decided to move from the island out to the suburbs. In the past 5 years, more than 24,000 children have been moved out of the city by their families. According to Daybreak’s interview, larger houses with more family friendly amenities, lower taxes, greenery, and back yards appeared as the most quoted benefits of suburban living.

Projet Montréal projects new métro ‘Pink Line’ as part of election platform

As part of the election platform, Projet Montreal released its party platform priorities, which included constructing a new metro line linking Montreal North and Downtown. “With our program, more families will stay in Montreal or will move here, our commercial arteries will be stronger and our transportation network will be more efficient, as much for public transit users as for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians,” party leader Valérie Plante said.

Massive Tour des Canadiens 3 condo tower launches pre-sales

The $150 million Tour des Canadiens condo project launched its pre-sales this week, near the Bell Centre in Downtown Montreal. The project the third condo building in the larger Quad Windsor development. It is projected as a 55 storey tower with 567 condo units, from 1-3 bedrooms and penthouses. The prices will range from $200,000 to $1M+. There will also be a row of 12 townhouses available on the Southern side of tower, adjacent to a projected 2 acre municipal park.

Bank of Canada holds benchmark interest rate at 1%

The Bank of Canada announced on Wednesday that it will be holding its overnight lending rate at 1%. This comes after two interest hikes back to back – one in July, and the other in September. The bank said in a statement: “Growth is expected to moderate to a more sustainable pace in the second half of 2017 and remain close to potential over the next two years.” The decision stands in line with economists’ forecasts, tighter rules on uninsured mortgages, and the Statistics Canada statement that the economy is cooling.

PWC releases emerging trend report for Canadian real estate in 2018

Today, PWC released its annual report of emerging trends within the real estate sector. Among their findings, condos are expected to represent the most popular building type, with an emphasis on condo projects that cater to millennial and senior citizen needs. Specifically in Montreal, the office market will perform well in 2018, especially buildings renovated to supply technological needs of workspaces. Montreal was rated the third best Canadian city for real estate investments, after Vancouver and Toronto.

Montreal’s housing market recorded at a low degree of vulnerability

CMHC’s Housing Market Assessment (HMA) found that Canada’s real estate market is at a high level of vulnerability, overall, with Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Saskatoon representing the riskiest provinces. Montreal, however, showed low levels on all four markers of vulnerability: Overheating, Price Acceleration, Overvaluation, and Overbuilding.

Homeownership rates drop in all Canadian provinces except Quebec, Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan

Homeownership rates declined in Canadian provinces and territories except three: Quebec, the NorthWestern territories, and Saskatchewan. The highest growth was seen in Quebec, where the rate increased from 59.3% to 61.3% from Census 2011. The Northwest Territories took second place, where homeownership rates grew 1.51% to 53.7%. In third, Saskatchewan’s homeownership rates rose  to 72%, a 0.28% increase from Census 2011. All other Canadian provinces have experienced a decrease in ownership rates.

Thales chooses Montreal as new research centre home

Thales has selected Montreal as the base for the French industrial giant’s new artificial intelligence research centre. According to the company, it will collaborate with Canadian AI research groups in Toronto and Montreal, in preparation for the centre’s launch. Its mission will be to work on ethical applications of AI across the company’s portfolio. The centre will create about 50 new jobs for AI developers in Montreal.

Montreal ranked among top “high-tech cities” in the world

Research firm 2THINKNOW collected data on cities in collaboration with Business Insider, ranking them to in terms of their technological advancement.  The factors associated to technological development included the number of patents filed, startup presence, the presence of smart energy networks, and even the level of smartphone use. Of all the information gathered, 25 cities were chosen as the most technologically advanced, with Montreal ranking at #18. Other cities included San Francisco (#1), Vancouver, Toronto, New York, London and Seoul.


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