Monday, December 13, 2010

Montreal Police Issue Warrant for Alleged Mortgage Fraudster

Stephane Giroux of CTV News has an excellent report tonight about a man suspected of obtaining mortgages for at least five Montreal properties he didn't own.
One Westmount homeowner was tipped off to the scam when a bank evaluator showed up at her door to do a evaluation for the person seeking the mortgage.
An eagle-eyed clerk at Westmount city hall also noticed that welcome tax bills were being sent to the same individual for several residential properties within a few blocks of each other.
Mortgage fraud reached epidemic levels in Ontario during the hot real estate market of the early 2000s. It seemed that scammers were able to easily obtain identification documents that allowed them to obtain false mortgages on properties and then either disappear with the cash, or, in the case of the truly bold and brazen, resell the property and disappear with the cash.
This kind of scam has never been a huge problem in Quebec, which is why this story is so noteworthy. Here, unlike Ontario or the rest of Canada, notaries play a key role in assuring an orderly and meticulously researched and documented property transfer.
Notaries have an obligation to read all the ownership documents attached to a property, sometimes going back a hundred years or more to ensure that the vendor has the legal right to sell. They verify that there are no mortgages or other liens on the property when it passes from vendor to buyer.  They meet with both parties, and though it usually seems rote and a little insulting, they ask to see two pieces of ID from each party, to be sure the buyer is who he says he is and the vendor is who he says he is.
In this case, the scamster appears to have bypassed the notary and gone to a lawyer. The police investigation will reveal whether the lawyer preformed his or her job dilligently.
The good news is that the homeowners did not lose their properties and are not out of pocket. Looks like the banks who left the fake mortgages might not have been so lucky. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Montreal Rental Market Stable

 Good news for rental property owners from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. today.
CMHC reports that on-island rental market remains stable with an overall vacancy rate of 2.7 per cent. That compares to 2.6 per cent a year ago.
Economic and demographic factors helped propel more people into home ownership over the  course of the year but that didn't mean a loosening of the rental market. A relatively healthy job-creation picture for workers in the 15-24 age bracket meant more new households were formed in the Montreal area this year. That trend smacked up against a slowdown in  rental construction. There were only 2,721 rental starts (foundations poured) in 2010. That compared to 3,672 last year.
According to Bertrand Recher, the CMHC economist who wrote the report, the rental market was tightest in central Montreal neighborhoods like the Plateau, Rosemont, Villeray, Verdun and central Ville Marie. In those areas, the real vacancy rate was closer to 2 per cent.
The vacancy rate is lowest in apartments with three or more bedrooms, 2.1 per cent.  The rate for apartments with 2 bedrooms is 2.3 per cent. For bachelor apartments and one-bedrooms, the vacancy rate is 3.8 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
CMHC promises to send out a zone-by-zone breakdown of vacancy rates and average rents later in the day.

Verdun Loosening the Rules on Alcohol Sales

Fantastic news out of the latest Verdun borough council meeting. Mayor Claude Trudel is talking about loosening zoning rules with an eye to making it possible to open watering holes on the Wellington St., Verdun's main commercial drag.
 This is a very big deal. For years, Verdun and St. Lambert shared the distinction of being Quebec's only officially dry towns. Despite a steady influx of good, even great, eateries, there isn't a single bar, tavern, brasserie, night club or cabaret in Verdun. For decades, mayors used temperance laws to keep them out. Things got a little easier in 1996, when the rules were loosened to allow establishments to serve strong drink if a patron also ordered food.
Mayor Trudel thinks Verdun needs to get with the times. La Presse quotes him as saying that a microbrewery would be a  welcome addition to Wellington St. The borough is experiencing a big influx of young first-time home buyers, entrepreneurs and immigrants looking for neighborhood amenities that reflect their lifestyles.
"A microbrewery is modern and it responds to a demand," Trudel said. "Beer brewed on the premises served with food. The atmosphere is modern and young. To me, that corresponds with what the clientele of Wellington St. is becoming."
Amen, Mayor Trudel!
None of this will happen overnight, of course. The borough is in the process of revising its urban master plan and will consult the citizenry before making any changes. That will be sent to city hall for approval in the new year.It has already been given an enthusiastic thumbs up by the head of the local merchants' association.
Other big changes may be coming to Wellington St. The borough is also looking at turning at least part of the shopping drag into a pedestrian mall or one-way street with an integrated bike path.
I'm not sure how either of those plans will fly locally, but I have to give the mayor props for being willing to think outside the box.
Stay tuned.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Londono Hearing Under Publication Ban

We're going to have to wait to find out the details of celebrity real estate broker Tatiana Londono's disciplinary hearing before the OACIQ. The regulatory agency has imposed a publication ban on the proceedings. I guess they are sticking to the ol' "innocent 'til proven guilty" thang.
There's the latest from The Gazette's Open House blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Were They Thinking?

File this one under "Fronds in all the right places".  The MLS listing for an upscale condo in Old Montreal has13 photos, 5 of which feature the greenery pictured at left. Yup, that's the main listing photo.

There's also stunning a shot of the open, minimally stocked fridge, the open cutlery drawer and of the bathrobes hanging on the bathroom door.

Is it me, or this not enough salient detail to help me decide whether to visit or not?