Is Montreal a seller's market? Depends if you own a home or condo

Montreal's real estate market tended to favour sellers in 2016, after home sales went up for the second year in a row. But experts warn that may not be the case this year.

Single-family homes in high demand, but increase in condos works in favour of buyers

A total of 39,926 homes, condominiums and other residential properties were sold last year in the Montreal area. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal's real estate market tended to favour sellers in 2016, after home sales went up for the second year in a row.

But experts warn that may not be the case this year.

A total of 39,926 single-family homes, condominiums and other residential properties were sold last year, marking a five per cent increase from 2015, according to figures from the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board.

Property prices were on the rise for the second consecutive year, after four straight years on the decline.

Even if it's getting more costly, however, buying a home in Montreal remains far more affordable than red-hot markets like Toronto.

The average property in the Montreal area went for $349,573 — less than half of Toronto's average of $729,922.

Depends on the neighbourhood

The Montreal market was especially favourable toward homeowners selling single-family houses, since buyers tend to be drawn in by the relatively affordable prices compared to other Canadian cities.

Paul Cardinal, director of market analysis at the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, said 2016 buyers targeted homes in Ahuntsic, Nuns' Island and the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal.

Cardinal said there was a strong market for sellers in Montreal's more expensive neighbourhoods such as Westmount, Outremont and Town of Mount-Royal.

"The majority of the sectors west of the island were already a sellers' market," he said.

It was also a strong market for homeowners in Boisbriand, Laval and Sainte-Thérèse, as well as Brossard, Longueuil and Boucherville.

Montreal's more expensive neighbourhoods, like Westmount (pictured), Outremont and Town of Mount-Royal, were strong markets for sellers in 2016. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Condos are another story

Condominiums, however, are not selling at the same rate.

Thousands of condominiums have popped up in the Montreal area in recent years, especially downtown, and many of them remain unsold or unoccupied.

"We are still in a market where the buyer has more [power] than the seller," Cardinal said.

"The surplus narrowed significantly in 2016. We are not far from balance, but the vast majority of sectors remain to the advantage of buyers. One of the only exceptions is the southwestern part of the island of Montreal, which includes Griffintown and Saint-Henri. On the South Shore, we have Boucherville and Saint-Bruno."

Will the trend hold?

Overall, Cardinal expects sales to drop slightly in 2017, given the new mortgage requirements introduced by the federal government last fall.

A possible hike in interest rates could also discourage people from taking out a mortgage, he said.

Still, Cardinal said Quebec's strong labour market and low unemployment rate will ensure a strong real estate market in the coming year.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Benoît Chapdelaine


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