Resale housing in the Greater Montreal region rose by robust 9 per cent in August, according to the latest figures from the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board.
The prices increases were seen in all property types and across a wide geographic area.
The number of single-family home sales rose by 5 per cent compared to August of last year, totaling 1,674 properties. On the condo front, sales rose by 15 per cent to 855, while plex sales rose by 17 per cent to 337 units.
All three property types saw price increases, too. Single homes rose by an average of 6 per cent, plexes ( 2 to 5 units) rose 5 per cent and condos by 3 per cent.
The board pointed to the usual factors -- low borrowing rates, an improving job market and stronger consumer confidence -- as the key to the August market.
It must also be noted that August, 2008 was about the time all hell began to break loose in the U.S. economy, with failures setting off a chain reaction of business failings and job losses.
Montreal managed to dodge the bullet, at least compared to many other large North American cities. Still, the beginning of the year was a little too quiet for most agents' liking.
First-time buyers kept us busy during the bleakest part of winter. New rules allowing first-timers to withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSPs helped quite a bit. Eventually, vendors and buyers regained their nerve, making for a busy May through August.
The cheery portrait was confirmed in a new report by RBC Economic Research, the thinking end of the big chartered bank. RBC tracks housing affordability across Canada - ie the portion of pretax household revenue needed to service mortgage, utilities and taxes. Affordability got a boost in the second quarter, thanks to lower mortgage rates and a softer real estate market.
In Montreal, that meant carrying costs for the typical bungalow ate up 37.3 per cent of household income, down from 38.1 per cent during the previous three-month period.
For the average condo owner, 30.1 per cent of household income were dedicated to paying the mortgage et al, compared to 30.9 per cent three months earlier.
The average Vancouver bungalow owner spends 63.4 per cent of household income paying the mortgage. In Tawrawna, it's 45.6 per cent.
"Greater affordability has opened the door more fully to buyers, who have sprung into action," noted Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC. "Sales of existing homes in Quebec have rebounded strongly, rising by more than 40 per cent from the cyclical low reached mid-winter, with improved market sentiment helping prices rise."
Taking the current market conditions into account, the Royal says affordability is unlikely to show much more improvement locally in the near term.