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Where to buy real estate in 2019: Montreal

While the rest of Canada’s urban housing markets were deflating under the pressure of the mortgage stress test and portents of potentially higher interest rates, Montreal was one of two cities to report price growth in 2019. (The other city was Halifax.)

In fact, Montreal is the only city to consistently report positive price growth over the last six months, according to data from the Teranet-National Bank House Price Index. And it looks as if that growth is going to continue, at least for the foreseeable future.

“Canadian housing activity appears to be broadly stabilizing, as there are signs that the market has largely digested the many policy changes,” explained Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter in his May 2019 report. Combine this with the ongoing evidence of slowed economic growth and the resulting halt in near-term interest rate hikes, and it appears Montreal may lead the country when it comes to property price growth.

While this is great news for sellers and those already in the housing market, this trend could throw up potential hurdles for first-time buyers. Here are the results for Montreal of this year’s Where to Buy Real Estate report.

Montreal’s top 3 neighbourhoods to buy

1. Pierrefonds-Roxboro

If you love swimming, you’ll be thrilled with this year’s No. 1 neighbourhood in Greater Montreal. In late August 2018, the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, on the northwest of the Island of Montreal, confirmed that the 4,500-square-foot Aquatic and Recreation Centre that was planned for the community finally got the green light.

While construction on the centre won’t start until 2021—with completion scheduled for 2023—the new facility is sure to be a draw and this new facility is already expected to add to the desirability of the area.

Real estate agents aren’t the only ones taking notice. Amid headlines of shuttered retail stores and bankrupt businesses, last fall Lowe’s  opened a new store location in here in spring 2019—and with good reason. Almost three-quarters (70.4%) of homes are owner-occupied in this community, which boasts a large number of three and four-bedroom homes (48.4% and 32.5%, respectively). Better still, houses in this neighbourhood are about 8% cheaper than the average house price in Greater Montreal, and more than 15% cheaper than surrounding neighbourhoods on the Island of Montreal.

Compare this to Mont-Royal (ranked No. 5), the other Montreal Island community that also cracked the top 10 list of Greater Montreal real estate markets this year. Despite the steep price tag—average house prices are just under $1,281,500, or 322% pricier than average in Greater Montreal—this community ranked high due to its continued popularity among buyers and investors. Price growth for this area—which now boasts freehold townhomes, single family homes as well as homes split into separated units—is over 27% for the last five years and it doesn’t look like the community’s popularity is waning.

As one real estate agent pointed out, the neighbojurhood is surrounded by three universities and is a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core. As a result, investors love this community, while families compete to get a home that offers a mortgage helper.

2. L’Ile Perrot

The No. 2-ranked neighbourhood in Montreal this year is L’Ile Perrot on South Vaudreuil—considered the anglo enclave of Greater Montreal.

Over the last half-decade, this neighbourhood and communities a bit further west of downtown Montreal have certainly attracted more residents. As a result, traffic on South Vaudreuil has gotten progressively worse. Fed up with the congestion, the local mayor publicly reached out to the province for help, asking that the province make necessary improvements to Highway 20 in order to ease congestion and help with safety issues.

While the result of this request, and the subsequent traffic studies, are not yet released, residents will be happy to know that suggested improvement efforts aren’t focused solely on car commuting. At present, there are designated bicycle lanes along the island’s major arteries, such as Don-Quichotte Blvd, Grand Blvd and along Cardinal-Leger Blvd.

One big reason for the surging popularity of L’Ile Perrot—and further south on the island, Notre-dames-Ile-Perrot—is what buyers can get for the price. This area offers rolling hills, forested trails and spectacular waterfront views. Over 70% of the area is designated as agricultural land, which limits the extent and type of development, which means this natural beauty is sure to last for quite some time. What’s amazing, however, is the price difference for homes in the L’Ile Perrot compared to homes located just across the water in Montreal Island’s South West community. Quite often, buyers can shave $100,000 to $200,000 off their purchase price just by getting off the main island. 

Homes in this neighbourhood are, on average, more than 20% cheaper than the average in Greater Montreal, and about 10% cheaper than average home prices in surrounding communities. That means there is value here. And given that the five-year price appreciation for the community sits at 17%, it also means this neighbourhood continues to have momentum.

3. Beauharnois

Beauharnois lies about 40 kilometres southwest of Montreal’s city centre, on the South Shore. As such, Beauharnois offers buyers a chance to buy into a community that still has room for future appreciation, while paying, on average, housing prices that are significantly cheaper than what homes sell for on Montreal Island. In this case, buyers who choose to look in Beauharnois can shave, on average, about $100,000 off their purchase price, as long as they don’t mind the 30- to 40-minute car commute to downtown Montreal.

As a port town—it’s on the banks of Lac Saint-Louis—the community of Beauharnois offers a mix of small-town urban life with industrial shipping and rural agricultural influence. Many in the area are employed by the Beauharnois hydro-electric power station or the locks (located at the St. Lawrence Seaway), while others rely on the tourism brought in by one of the most famous North American archeological parks, Pointe-du-Buisson.

For those who can get over that car-commute hurdle, Beauharnois offers a variety of property types, from smaller two-bedroom bungalows, to three-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family homes, to newer family-sized condos and even multi-unit accommodation, such as triplexes.