Greater Montreal a buyer’s market for condos

Greater Montreal a buyer’s market for condosMONTREAL — Greater Montreal’s condo market now favours buyers for the first  time in 15 years, after the number of units listed for sale soared 25 per cent  in March compared to the same month in 2012, the Greater Montreal Real Estate  Board said Monday.

“Market conditions for condominiums have been relaxing quickly in recent  months,” said Diane Ménard, vice-president of the GMREB board of directors, in a  statement. “In early 2012, the condominium market still (favoured) sellers  slightly, but after a short period in balanced territory the condominium market  is now a buyer’s market, both on the island of Montreal and in the suburbs.”

Buyers can now choose from 12,623 condos listed for sale in Montreal — nearly  double the number of condo apartments and townhouses listed in Canada’s largest  real estate market, Greater Toronto — data from both real estate boards show.  Montreal, however, has historically had a larger number of condos and homes in  all categories for sale at a given time than in Toronto, five years of real  estate board data compiled by analyst Ben Rabidoux show.

In Greater Montreal, where the number of total properties for sale has grown  by more than 40 per cent over three years to nearly 33,000 in March, some  analysts and real estate agencies are forecasting a price drop of three to five  per cent in 2013.

Since August, the price of a Montreal home has declined 2.1 per cent,  according to the Teranet National Bank House Price Index, senior economist Marc  Pinsonneault said. Montreal home prices, however, are still up two per cent over  2012, the Teranet index showed in February.

The real estate industry continues to blame the federal government’s July  tightening of rules governing insured mortgages for the slowdown in Canada’s  major markets — Greater Montreal resales were down by 17 per cent last month  compared to an especially strong March in 2012.

What’s more, Montreal real estate brokers point to a reluctance by sellers to  lower their prices to meet demand in a slowing market, where buyers are no  longer rushed by the fear of missing out on low interest rates.

In its latest quarterly outlook, national real estate services firm Royal  LePage said last week it expects Montreal condo prices to drop by up to five per  cent during the spring home-buying season, as impatient sellers finally agree to  bargain with buyers after months of slowing sales.

“Gone are the days of fishing,” said Montreal real estate broker Carly  Fridman, in reference to the practice of listing properties at inflated prices  with the hope of catching an eager buyer. “You can still make money by selling  your house. The market is not collapsing by any means.

“But you have to be competitively priced to sell. They (sellers) really have  to start listening to the market.”

Fridman said buyers — especially those who are looking for a condominium — are no longer as motivated to purchase a home quickly as they were in 2011 when  the market was fuelled by the allure of rock-bottom rates.

“Interest rates aren’t going up, and if they do go up, they’re rising very  slowly,” she said. “Many buyers are still buying, but they’re not in a rush.  They want the right price. They’re being picky because they can.”

 

In Greater Montreal, total sales for all types of property were down 18 per  cent during the first quarter of 2013, compared to an exceptionally strong first  three months of 2012. The median price for a condo on Greater Montreal was flat  at $220,000 during the first quarter, while it dipped two per cent on Montreal  Island to $255,000.

Prices of single-family homes — that market remains balanced in Greater  Montreal — grew one per cent during the first quarter of 2013, while rising  three per cent on Montreal Island.

alampert@montrealgazette.com

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