Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Following Our Dreams Keeps Our Souls Alive."

Simon Dale has built the cutest hobbit house for his family. Amazingly, the whole project only cost him about $4,800 Canadian.
Dale took on the project to see how well he could do following the principles of sustainability. This house is dug into a hillside on the country and so it blends in with its surroundings.
He used stone, wood and straw bails to build, cutting down 30 small trees to create the home's skeleton. It has a sod roof with solar panels to power the computers and other gadgets. A fireplace heats the space.
Verrry cool.
You can read more about how the project took shape and see more of his wonderful photos on Dale's web site.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nude Nude All Nude

Talk about your real estate porn! An Australian real estate agent put together the above video as part of his marketing campaign for a luxury home on Australia's Gold Coast.

The bottom (ahem!) has fallen out of the luxury market Down Under as it has in many parts of the world. This black and white teaser is designed to make wold-be buyers um prick up their ears, I guess. Nice house, but dude you really should put a towel down before you lift weights.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pauline Marois Sells Her Ile-Bizard Palace

La Closerie, 7 bathrooms, 3 powder rooms, 7 bedrooms, 'Nuff said.
It seems that Parti Québecois leader Pauline Marois has managed to unload her estate in the wilds of Ile Bizard. The 1.7 million-square-foot property known has La Closerie had been on the market since July, 2009.
The property was listed on the MLS for much of that time, though the last listing expired in December a year ago at $8 million. Chateau Marois is currently listed with Sotheby's Quebec, despite the presence of an offending apostrophe in the company name, Perhaps Mme. Marois chose to overlook that little linguistic transgression in the interest of a speedy sale.
The listing is now at $6.98 million. I guess it was priced to move, what with a provincial election looming in the not too distant future and Marois consistently placing a distant third in opinion polls. Hard to position yourself as Quebec's social democratic alternative to the corrupt Liberals and the right-wing arriviste Coaliton pour L'avenir du Québec when the school and property taxes on the house you own are more than what the average Quebec receptionist earns in a year. ($36,009 vs $34,919.)
Do you suppose she's now scoping out a little bungalow in Répentigny?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Montreal Resales Top the Billion Dollar Mark

Montreal home sales rose by three per cent in October, the sixth straight month of sales increase in the metropolitan area.
The big news is that sales topped the $1-billion mark, a notable accomplishment in a market where the average price of a single-family home is in the range of $270,000 and the average condo just under $227,000.
Price hikes were seen in most parts of Greater Montreal, with the exception of the South Shore, where sales were flat and the nunber of active listings rose by 21 per cent.
For the record, only a modest part of that $1 billion ended up in my mink-lined pocket last month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Manhattan's "Origami" Apartment. 425 sq ft of Multifuctional Space

With the average price of a Manhattan apartment being somewhere in the range of $1.4 million, sacrifices must be made.
The owner of this Manhattan apartment mustered $235,000 for this 425-square-foot corner unit. Then he set about cleverly transforming it through the use of modular dividers, screens and hidden lighting.

They have organized the space with great economy and ingenuity.  The desk folds down to create a screened window into the sleeping area, that the lighting is all hidden from view and that surfaces are clean and free of clutter.

I speak to you as a broken women. My basement is currently under renovation, a job that has been going on since August. Everything that once was stowed in the basement has been redistributed around the house. There's a dehumidifier in the kitchen, boxes of family photos, folding chairs, framed art and a set of dumbells sitting in the middle of the living room for now. There's stuff ev-ery-where. The idea of a living space that contrains only those things one needs - two bottles of wine and a plate of chocolate chip cookies, for example - is very appealing to me.

The apartment's owner says his aesthetic was shaped by the time he spent in Japan. He likes a pared down lifestyle, making choices and limiting the number of things he has. I don't know that we're all wired that way but it is nice to see that someone can live happily in the opposite of a McMansion.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words. 'Yikes!' Being One of Them.

What it looks like when Satan gets into cocooning.
 Here at MontReal Estate central we like to goof around, particularly when we come across really dubious photos attached to real estate listings. You can check out some favorites by searching the key word "What?" in the topics to the right of this post.

Now that many real estate brokers are using smartphones equipped with quite good cameras it is easier than ever to get half decent photos. The new iPhone camera is basically idiot proof, with a high-definition setting that lets you sharpen the focus of any photo, not to mention correct the colour or add effects after the fact. I'm pretty sure that's what went wrong with the photo to the left. The room can't possibly be that red, unless Satan doth dwell there, right?

You have permission to pee in the bath tub.
As these photos plucked from recent MLS listings illustrate, if a good picture can help sell a house, a bad one can really keep people away.

It is a serious enough problem that the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board sends out a steady stream of press releases, tip sheets and video features offering brokers ideas on how to improve the quality of their photos, because bad photos are a disservice to clients.

Recently the board mandated a private company to examine the photos on the MLS for quality-control purposes. (My dues at work!)  The result, 20 per cent of photos on the MLS are blurry, poorly framed or most likely, too dark. They didn't get into the fact that sometimes the pictures are INSANE, (see above) but I digress.

Crisp lines and even light. A total absence of  clutter doesn't hurt.
 I recently had a buyer client who kept sending me links to listings to give me an idea of what he liked. After a while it dawned on me that what he really liked was listings with high-definition photos with their bright, even colours and crisp lines. See how sharp this one is?  Doesn't it make the condo pop? Exactly.

Sometimes when I'm in a hurry I grab my pictures for listing purposes. Mostly, however, I rely on a professional photographer to do the job right. Sharon Wilson takes great pictures. That's her work just beneath. Notice how she frames the shot to show the flow of one room into another.  She gets the right angles, the right lighting and the right framing. Plus, she's reliable, good-humored and delivers her pix on time. For me, it is among the smartest money I spend to promote a property.
A Sharon Wilson photo. Nice!
I dunno if Sharon has every knowingly taken a picture of a portable toilet in a bath tub. I know that she always puts the seat and lid down if she's photographing a real toilet. Now that's attention to detail.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zoocasa: When an Appraisal Isn't Worth the Paper It Isn't Written On,

Big splash in the Globe and Mail this morning about a new function on's do it yourself real-estate search site. Now with a few keystrokes consumers can get an appraisal of their property.
Zoocasa, which is owned by media giant Rogers Communications, has partnered with Centract Settlement Services, an appraisal firm owned by Brookfield Residential PropertyServices. Brookfield, by the way, also owns Royal LePage and Via Capital.
As usual, the news story is full of quotes about how this service will deal yet another blow to rotten real estate agents who hoard information and then charge people money to access it instead of giving it away for free.
First off, pretty much any agent on the planet will give a homeowner a free valuation of their property as part of their sales pitch. We don't get paid until we sell the house.
Second, the Zoopraisal function is only an estimate, based on the sale of similar properties in the neighborhood. That might work in a subdivion where all the houses or condos are cookie-cutter, but it won't do you any good in a neighborhood where the houses are different. It also doesn't account for improvements or differences in location within a neighborhood. For instance, next to the crackhouse is almost always worth less than two blocks away from the crackhouse, right?
I took the service out for a spin, using it to appraise my own home. Punching in my address, the software next prompted me to choose a housing type but wouldn't let me choose "bungalow", only two storey, side-split or condo. Hmmmm.
I chose side-split, because the fun I was having was, you know, side-splitting.
Within a nanosecond the computer churned out a value, that was conservatively $100,000 more than my house is actually worth. That was the mid-range value. The low range was about $25,000 below, while the highest value was about $175,000 too high.
My house is worth X, give or take $175,000. Thanks so much Zoocasa for clearing that up.
If I were to put my house up for sale tomorrow, which of the appraisal website's proposed values would I use to price my house?
Never mind algorithms, the best way to price a house is to have someone who knows the market walk through and study the comparable sales in the neighborhood within the last 6-12 months.
The dinkus who runs the service says that "hoarding of information" is a "crutch" that has hurt agents. This from a guy who works for a media conglomerate that sells specialty television packages, cable TV service, cellular telephone and Internet services and a host of magazines, among other things. How come when Rogers charges for information it's business and when I give mine away for free it is "hoarding"?
Things that make me go hmnnnn.
As the old saying goes, Beware Greeks bearing gifts. By which I don't mean Greeks and I certainly don't mean gifts.

Later. . .

And another thing. Don't you think that if they wanted to they could have put a really good appraisal tool online? I mean, Brookfield has an in-house appraisal firm so it must be able to collate the data. Could it be that Brookfield prefers to "hoard" the information?  @%#&ers!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Montreal Resales Surge in September

Eager buyers paced a surge in single-family home and condominium sales on the island of Montreal in September,with sales in each category rising by 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively compared to September, 2010, according the latest stats from the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board.
That worked out to 324 houses and 510 condos sold.
The jump in those two categories offset a 5 per cent drop in plex sales last month. The number of two- to five-unit building sold totaled 213, compared to 225 a year earlier. Sales volume, or the amont of money buyers spent, rose by 6 per cent to $854.4 million in September alone.

The strong September results were the fourth consecutive month of gains for the Greater Montreal area, with the island leading the way.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Canada's 5 Priciest Properties

Huffington Post Canada has a piece today about the five priciest residential properties for sale in Canada. Three of them are in Vancouver, a fourth on Toronto's tony Bridle Path and the fifth on Ile Bizard in good old Montreal. I've looked at this house and can't help but think that it looks more like a corporate resort than a place where flesh and blood humans live.
Check them out here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Montreal's Urban Foxes

I've seen three foxes since moving from the Plateau Mont Royal to southwest Montreal. Each time has been a treat, because they are so fast and so elusive.
The first one dashed across the road in front of my car near the Wellington St. off-ramp of Highway 15 North. I spotted the second at a distance while walking my dogs on the grounds of the Douglas Hospital and the third came up to our picnic table on a warm August night in LaSalle's Parc des Rapides.
OpenFile shares the skinny on urban foxes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Treehouses for Grown-Up Kids

I will never outgrown my love of trees or houses. The treehouse? Win-win! Trend Hunter has a gallery of some of its favorites,  from Keebler Elf  inspired to the  poddiest of 2001: A Space Odyssey contraptions.

A Love Letter to Jean Talon Market

My friend and former Gazette colleague Susan Semanak has just released a book, Market Chronicles: Stories and Recipes from Montreal's Jean Talon Market. It is a beautifully written and photographed love letter to North America's largest open-air market. Semenak is a gifted writer and has serious chops as a cook. She's also as nice a person as you could ever hope to meet.
Here's a Gazette video of Susan walking through and talking about the market. Go grab a copy in English ou en francais for $40. You won't regret it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Montreal Heritage Home Tour - We're In!

Tomorrow kicks off Montreal's annual Architectural Heritage campaign celebrating  the best of the city's architecture.
The line of activities includes lectures, museum exhibits, as well as walking and bus tours exploring the city's many way cool neighborhoods. If I could, I'd do the walking tour of the Point tomorrow. Alas, it conflicts with my sprog's soccer practice and soccer practice wins.
The good news is that my listing at 276 May St., Verdun has been selected by the jury for this year's heritage tour. 276 May is one of the oldest homes in Verdun. We have deeds going back to 1891, when the land was sold to a Mr. May. He built his house in 1895.
Too bad that in the late 1950s some urban planning fool decided it would be a good idea to build the elevated approach to the Champlain Bridge about 100 feet from the building's front stoop. Here's the way I look at it, 276 May was  there 70 years before they built the bridge and it will be there 100 years after the bridge is scrapped. It was built to last.
It has also been lovingly restored and updated by my client. I don't feel the least bit self-conscious in proclaiming it one the prettiest houses in Verdun. Hell, it is one of the prettiest houses in Montreal.
We've printed enlarged images of some of the original deeds to show during the open house visit from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2 and again on Oct. 9. We're expecting a big turnout. Bring your cheque book in case you want to make an offer. At $339,000 it is verrrry nicely priced.
You can check out the other activities on between October 1 and Oct. 13 here,

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Glimpse Inside Cirque Du Soleil

I just came across this fantastic YouTube video about Montreal's own Cirque du Soleil today. It offers a peek at life in the Cirque's St. Michel headquarters/
"Headquarters" hardly begins to describe the depth and breadth of activity that goes on in that part of the world. World class athletes, world class costume makers, world class designers, world class . . . creators do their thing in an amazing environment. The building was designed so that everyone who works there can see the performers as they develop each act. There's no brick wall between the business and art.
They grow their own produce on their campus in St. Michel and recuperate rainwater for the bathrooms and such. They even have their own water-bottling plant which allowed the Cirque to reduce the number of water bottles it purchases annually from 19,000 to 120. (Access to clean drinking water is a favorite cause of Cirque founder Guy Laliberté.)
Gotta love the passion they put into what they do.
Watching the video made me realize that I have worked with three clients who work for the Cirque in the last year, buyers all. Funny how things happen. None of them know each other, so it isn't like one referred me to another.
I don't know what it means except that the Cirque is a significant employer in Montreal and its employees make a decent living and have the kind of stability and peace of mind that lets them invest in homes.
I tip my hat to the Cirque for doing Montreal proud all around the world and for bringing me three clients.

Just Listed, Classic Rosemont Duplex

We've just pounded the sign in front of a classic Rosemont duplex - two bedrooms with an open living, dining and kitchen area on the ground floor and a semi-finished basement with a guest room and play area and exterior exit. There's just a shade under 1000 square feet of living space on the ground floor and a private yard with an above ground pool.

Upstairs there are two one-bedroom rentals with stable, long-term tenants who bring in a combined $800 a month.

The address is 5536 7th Ave., which is between Dandurand St. and Masson, the neighborhood's main shopping drag. If you don't know Rosemont, this is a nice  neighborhood, quiet tree-lined streets with folks who sit out on their stoops and balconies keeping an eye on things.

Alot of the action on the overheated Plateau has pushed north and east to Rosemont where prices are lower and there isn't quite as much carousing and clubbing.

The asking price is $419,000, very competitive for the neighborhood. We don't expect this baby to linger on the market at that price.

Open house Sunday, September 25, from 2-4 p.m. Tell your friends. MLS # 8616074

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Gazumping Please, We're Canadian.

If you're Canadian, chances are you've never been gazumped. It might sound like an obscure German sexual practice but no.  Gazumping is a real estate term I'd never heard until last week when a client, newly arrived from the U.K. sprang it on me. First I blushed, then I asked her to explain.

In Quebec, a home seller who accepts a promise to purchase signs a legally binding contract. You can't just walk away because you've changed your mind. If the buyer fulfills the conditions spelled out in the promise to purchase within the specified deadline, it's a done deal.

Imagine my astonishment to learn that this is not the case in England, Wales  and Australia, where sellers can change their minds right up until the very day of the closing.

By some crazy fluke of British law, a buyer's promise to purchase is not legally binding. It doesn't become binding until the seller hands over the keys and ownership documents, often 12 weeks after the original sale was signed.

 I'm staggered to discover that sales routinely take three months to close in the U.K.  In Quebec we can get a deal done in 30 days if all the documents are in order. I've had a few go through in as few at 21 days. Not in England, where the wearing of powdered wigs by lawyers and possibly real estate agents (note to self, check this fact) appears to slow things down  substantially.

As a buyer, you can go through all the trouble and expense of a home inspection, financing and  such only to get a last-minute call saying "Sorry old man, the owner has decided to accept another offer."

When you get that call, you've been gazumped and there's precious little you can do about it, short of throwing fistfuls of money (no Euros, please) at the vendor in the hopes he'll change his mind.

As you can imagine, there's plenty of gazumping during a hot real estate market.

When the market cools and buyers have the upper hand, reverse gazumping happens. That's when buyers can pull out at the last possible moment, or demand a price reduction. When that happens, it's called -- I kid you not -- gazundering.

Gazumping, gazundering. It all sounds like Anarchy in the U.K. to me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Buy This House, Then Get Really Drunk.

Here's another sign of the tough times in the U.S. real estate market. A Chicago area vendor is sweetening the pot for whoever buys her 3-bedroom home with a $1,000 gift certificate redeemable at the neighborhood bar. The watering hole is across the street from her house. Hmmm, do you suppose that has something to do with why she's having trouble attracting offers?
Read about it here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Were They Thinking? #12 in a Series.

Imagine a condominium so horrible that the houseplants have slowly edged their scraggly way out the door to live on the dimly lit, unheated landing.
There were exactly four photos with this listing. Two exteriors, one of which makes it look like a Quebec prison in need of foundation work, and two photos of the houseplants on the landing.
There are no interior pictures. None. How bad can the inside of the apartment possibly be?
You will be surprised to learn that the condo has been on the market since mid May, 2011. That's right, about 100 days. That's an eternity in downtown real estate and more than enough time for the listing agents to get better photographs.
I wouldn't be so critical if I didn't pay a professional photographer good money to take beautiful photos of all my listings.

Monday, August 15, 2011

City of Montreal Offers Cash Incentives to New Buyers. Some Strings Attached

Did you know that Montreal offers financial incentives to encourage tenants to become home buyers?  The incentives are even better for households with at least one child under the age of 18. You don't have to be a first-time buyer to be eligible, but you must prove that you have not owned a property for at least five years.
As with most government programs, this one is more than a little complicated.  Still, it might be something worth investigating  if you are looking at buyung either a single unit or a revenue property where you will reside.
 Single Units, How Much?If you buy a newly built unit and are the first owner of that property, you can collect a rebate of $4,500, $10,000 or $12,500 depending on if you are a childless single buyer, two buyers, or a household with at least one child.
For a single buyer, the rebate is good for the purchase of a new unit costing not more than $200,000, taxes and extras like kitchen upgrades or a parking space included. (if my math is correct, that means a condo or house priced at not more than $175,554. Ce n'est pas beaucoup ça!)
For two-buyer households, the limit is $235,000.
For a household with at least one kid, the limit is $265,000 or $310,000 if the unit has three bedrooms.
The city will also refund 40 per cent of your property transfer tax (the hated welcome tax that you will be hit with about 30 days after you take possession.)
The welccome tax refund is 100 per cent for households with at least one kid.
This program has the twin aim of encouraging developers to build family-affordable housing in the city and encouraging young families to stay on the island instead of fleeing to the suburbs.
Revenue Properties, How Much?
 If you buy a duplex and live in one unit while renting the other, the city will refund 40 per cent of your property transfer tax, as long as your duplex does not cost more than $400,000 (There's no sales tax of resale duplexes, so that $400,000 is a real market price.) If you buy a triplex, the maximum is $450,000.
For households with children, the maximum purchase price remains $400,000 for a duplex and $450,000 for a triplex but the city will refund the entire amount of your property transfer tax.
This program was designed to encourage owner occupancy. It has been proven that revenue properties where the owner lives on site are better maintained than those with absentee landlords.
As with any government program,there's a lot of fine print. For example, you have to commit to owning the property for three years or else you have to pay the money back.
You have to pay your property transfer tax up front and then apply to for the rebate.
This is a program partially funded by the Quebec government, so it lasts as long as there's money in the kitty. When the envelope is empty, as they say in French, ze program she ends. I can't see anything on the city website to indicate that the program has run out of funds.
You can find out more by visiting the City of Montreal's housing site and download the application form. You have six months after the purchase of your property to apply for the rebate. You can also visit your local borough office to find out more.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Now We Gotta Worry About Dinosaurs?

It used to be that my biggest headache as a realtor was people who thought they could do better selling their houses themselves. (Generally you can't.)

Now it seems I have to worry about fetishists who might be willing to trade their property for one year of service from a "personal dinosaur".  How do I compete with that?

At left is an actual Craigslist real estate ad that I picked up from Regretsy, a website usually devoted to handicrafts and DIY gone terribly wrong.

I would love to know how it turned out for the would-be dinosaur. Sadly, the original posting has expired.

Here's the Regretsy link.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Page from Montreal History

Original handwritten deed dating  from 1891 for the sale of what is now 276 May St., Verdun.

Sometimes I get to brush up against history as I go about my business as a real estate agent.  The vendor of the property at 276 May St., Verdun has a stack of deeds going all the way back to when the land was originally subdivided into building lots back in 1891.

The spidery cursive has faded somewhat over the last 110 years, but it is still legible.  If you read all the deeds you get a sense of the evolution of a neighborhood, because each deed has the name and occupation of both the seller and the buyer.  This property passed through the hands of a career military man  to a mechanical superintendant and later from shopkeeper to a mechanic and from him to a labourer and then to a nurse's aide and so on and so on.

What I like about this particular deed is that many of the names, probably obscure in their time, now have deep roots and resonance in Verdun and neighboring Point St. Charles. I quote:

On This Sixth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and ninety one.  Before the undersigned Public Notary for the Province of Quebec, in the Dominion of Canada, residing in the City of Montreal Came and Appeared John Samuel Knox of Rozel, Ryde, Isle of Wight, England a Lieutenant-Colonel in Her Majesty's service, in his capacity as sole Executor of and universal legatee under the Last Will and Testament of the late Robert Knox of Rushbrooke, near Coleraine, in Ireland.
 Knox, Rozel, Ryde and Coleraine are all names of nearby streets in the Point.   Mr. Knox sold the land to an Edward May of New Brunswick.  In turn Mr. May gave his name to the street on which he built a string of stout and respectable stone and brick houses.  The house I'm selling is near the corner of May and Rushbrooke.

The things you can learn if you just stop to read the fine print.

By the way,  the original deed of sale specifies that the buyer cannot build a slaughterhouse, tannery or soapworks on the premises. I guess NIMBYism - Not In My Back Yard - is not a 20th cerntury invention.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Friday Night During the Recent Heatwave.

The lampglow caught my eye as a I was driving home one recent Friday. We'd had a long string of humid heat and everyone was trying to cool off however they could. This woman on Desmarchais Blvd. had turned her front porch into a living room and was flaked out with her iPod and a good book.
She was a little surprised when I asked if I could take her picture and a little alarmed when I told her a small skunk was frolicking in her garden just beyond the lamp's cosy light.
 Not bad for an iPhone photo.

A Second Chance for a Verdun Beauty.

Have you ever seen the movie where the guy walks right past the girl without noticing her just because she's wearing her hair in a bun and has oversized glasses?
You know the drill. Fast forward to the next scene when the girl shows up in a party dress, her hair down and the glasses stowed away in her clutch purse, Not only does the guy notice her, he falls head over heels.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have the real estate equivalent of that girl for your cosideration. Welcome to, 276 May,Verdun, an old-fashioned Victorian beauty ready to dazzle all comers.
Amy Barratt and I listed this house for sale earlier this year. There was one big problem - a house full of university tenants had turned this gracious property into Animal House. No, that's letting them off too easy.  It was like Animal House crossed with an episode of Hoarders. Beer bottles e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.  Overflowing ashtrays, dirty clothes, kitty litter boxes that had never been changed.  The place was grotty beyond compare. It was so grotty that we couldn't get good photos of the interior.The tenants were so uncooperative that we had trouble getting in for showings. When we did get in, we lived in terror of opening a door and finding goodness knows who doing goodness knows what.
Valiantly we pointed out the building's good bones, its high ceilings, elegant staircase and generous proportions. We sang the praises of its six-foot-plus basement and its solid stone foundation.  All buyers saw was filth and disorder. They fled.
Our vendor decided to take the property off the market at least until the slovenly tenants were gone. She was convinced she could make the place sparkle if she just had a little time to apply soap and water and take care of a few renos. I was a little discouraged and skeptical.
Well shut my mouth. The students left July 1, leaving only four pick-up trucks worth of empties, broken furniture and garbage in their wake, Our vendor spent three weeks cleaning, painting and doing touch-ups. She upgraded the kitchen and bathroom, did some rewiring, tore out laminate and replaced it with new hardwood. It is hardly the same place at all. And yet it is.
Voila 276 May, priced at $345,000.  You can see the full listing by entering MLS # 8587771 at .
This is a spectacular house and certainly the best-priced four-bedroom in southwest Montreal. It is a two-minute walk to the LaSalle metro stop (green line), around the corner from Wellington St. and the Maxi grocery. It is also super close to the Champlain Bridge, for better and worse.
Ah yes, for better and for worse. You will you enjoy quick access to the bridge from May St., the last street in Verdun before you duck under the viaduct into Point St. Charles.  May St. faces that viaduct and traffic approaching the bridge passes a little above the second storey window though about 60 feet across the way. Hey, I hear the Champlain is coming down one of these days.
If you'd like to read my previous blog rant on the filthy tenants, click here.
We are having an open house Sunday, August 7, 2011 from 2-4 p.m. Please drop by. Sunday's no good? Give me a call  at 515 978-6522 and we'll arrange a visit.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How Much is a Real Estate Commission?

A Gazette reader sent in a question to the paper's popular Open House web page.  I was the poor sap tapped to answer.

Read all about it here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harper Government Reinstates Popular Energy Retrofit Subsidies

The federal government today announced that it is reintroducing a popular program that paid rebates to Canadian homeowners who undertook renovations to improve the energy efficiency of their homes .

The ecoEnergy Reftrofit program will offer up to $1,400 per eligible household for improvements like better windows, insulation and heating systems. There's a catch, however.  To be eligible, your house must undergo an energy audit by a company registered with Natural Resources Canada. There's another catch, the program will expire on March 31, 2012 or possibily sooner if the $400 million fund  runs out earlier.

It's good news for some, though not for someone like me who just spent $5,000 on a super efficient electric furnace to replace the old oil burner and tank in my basement. No audit, no rebate. You can read up on the program on the the NRC website.  You can read the CBC story and reader reaction here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spacing Magazine Launch in Montreal

Spacing, the totallygroovy magazine that looks at the past, present and future of our urban spaces, is having a launch party for its new pan-Canadian issue right here in Montreal.

The issue will feature lots of content about our belle ville with  short audio-visual and + talkie content from local thinkers,

The event is being held Jully20, at the McCord Museum's newly created outdoor space on Victoria St.

You can find out more by following this link. I'll be there. Will you?

Sorry for the no-good link. I dunno what that was about. Let's hope this one works.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What WereThey Thinking? #10 in a Series

This was mixed in among the photos of a loft recently sold on Hutchison St. near Jean-Talon.  I'm not sure whether the beagle's eyes are saying "Get out of my house." or "Take me with you."

I like to think the listing agent was being whimsical.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Looking for Real Estate Deals

I just took part in a live chat hosted by The Gazette on the topic of finding real estate deals. The questions came at us fast and thick. It was a bit chaotic but lotsa fun.

You can read the transcript here. There are some good tips for finding deals and knowing a deal when you see one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Londono's Disciplanary Hearing Sparks Debate about Heels

The Gazette has prompted debate about whether mentioning Tatiana Londono's fancy Christian Louboutin stilettos in a story about the celebrity broker's disciplinary hearing before the OACIQ (Organisme d'autoreglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec) was sexist or basic reporting.

Here's the Gazette story.

Here's reporter Allison Lampert's Open House blog post on reader reaction.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

(BTW, a pet peeve. Can you think of a name or acronym that is less user-friendly than Organisme d'autoreglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec or OACIQ  ( pronounced wah-SICK)? It's not exactly NASA, WHO or UNICEF, if you get my drift.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Like Having a Mortgage Broker in Your Pocket!

I've just downloaded a new Bank of Montreal mortgage app for my smart phone.  This handy tool allows me to calculate mortgage costs based on different scenarios - five per cent down, 10 per cent down, 25-year amortization, 30-year amortization, etc.

It has other functions, too. Users can create  profiles for the different properties they visit and even start the preapproval process with a BMO mortgage specialist with just a few taps of the screen.

So far, the thing seems to only work with iPhones and Androids.

You can find out more here

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Habitat for Cars not Humanity

I've been keeping my eye out for a piece of undeveloped land in inner-city Montreal for the last few months because Habitat for Humanity is on the lookout for a site to build it's next project.
Habitat  buys land and, using volunteer labour as well as funds and materials donated by corporate partners, build houses for people who might not otherwise be able to achieve the dream of home ownership. Each Habitat family must invest "sweat equity" in their home through volunteer labour. They also have to have the means to pay the mortgage once the house is built.
I wrote about Habitat's last build here.
I actually thought I'd hit the jackpot a few weeks ago when a 2,000-square-foot lot on a nice street in St. Henri came up for sale on the MLS. I quickly got the okay from H4H and raced to the owner's home to present the offer. The lot was right next door to their triplex, which was also for sale. I couldn't help but notice that the lot had a nice tree on it and thought how sad it would be to cut that tree down in order to build.
We came in at asking price and I did my best to pitch the merits of selling to a non-profit group already active in St. Henri. The plan was to build three units on the site. I had photos, brochures and a compelling story. It was all good. They didn't throw me out!
The next day the listing agent said that his clients' had received five offers on the property (after it had been listed for less than 48 hours) and had decided to take it off the market. I couldn't help but think that the owners tested the market in order to set a price for that piece of land. Their real hope was to sell it with their triplex. Whatevs.
Which brings me to today. Every morning I do a H4H search on the MLS. The criteria are specific. The price must be about $200.000, the land must be in an inner-city neighborhood with good public-transit access and local services. The lot has to be a minimum of 2,000 square feet, with the possibility of building three units.
This morning, I thought I'd hit the motherlode. A new listing for a lot in downtown Ville Marie borough popped up. Asking price - $42,000 plus QST and GST. Wow!
A closer look revealed that the listing was in fact for a parking spot in a downtown garage.  There are 25 of them for sale. Imagine that, some people can afford to spend nearly $48,000 for homes for their cars, while Habitat is down amongst the sofa cushions trying to scratch up the cash to build houses for people.
I wonder if we could build a house in a parking garage. . .

Friday, May 6, 2011

Foreclosures Down in 2010

Good news from an economist at the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards. The number of properties that went into foreclosure, or were seized by mortgage lenders because of non-payment of debt, fell by 15 per cent last year to 2,356.

That compared to 2,782 properties seized in 2009. The report was prepared by economist Paul Cardinal.

How does foreclosure work? If you have a mortgage, you are bound by the terms outlined in it. Your lender will expect payment according to the agreed-upon schedule. If you fall 30 days behind in  payments, the lender will send a letter threatening action if the payments are not brought up to date. They have to warn you before beginning foreclosure proceedings.

Here's the thing. Bankers are not sitting in their money-filled towers eagerly waiting for you to default on your mortgage. They really would much rather keep you in your house and paying them regularly. If you're having temporary problems paying a mortgage because of ill health or a temporary work stoppage, it's better to tell your bank up front. Chances are they'lll work out an arrangement of some sort. The worse thing you can do is try to duck your lender.

The lender must publishes a notice in the Quebec Land Registry notifying the borrower that his or her property will be seized if the outstanding balance is not repaid within 60 days. Then they ask the court's leave to begin proceedings. The 60 days gives the borrower time to get his poop in a group. That could mean scaring up the cash to pay back the arrears. Often it means putting the property up for sale to pay off the debt and walk away with whatever equity has built up.

Here's the bad news. Once the bank has begun foreclosure proceedings that will necessarily mean extra legal costs - thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars depending on the file and the number of legal manoeuvres involved. Eventually that comes out of the defaulting party's end of the sale.

7,288 mortgage holders received foreclosure notices in Quebec last year, versus 8,809  a year earlier. That represented a 17-per-cent decline in notices sent out.

A notice does not necessarily translate into a foreclosure. About 58 per cent of those served managed to repay their arrears and hang onto their homes. That left the unfortunate 12.5 per cent who couldn't and didn't. Those 909 had their property seized and sold. 597 or about 8 per cent were able to sell their properties and repay their debts. Another 8 per cent, or 607, repaid their defaulted amounts and at least temporarily got their lenders off their back but then received second notices a few months later.

In Montreal. 175 mortgage holders lost properties to foreclosure last year, a 29-per-cent decline compared to the 247 of 2009. The hot spot in the province was the Montéregie region south of Montreal where 488 foreclosures took place, down from 586 a year earlier.  In fact, the number of foreclosures fell across the province except for in four regions, the Mauricie, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Centre du Québec and Abitibi-Tèmiscamingue.

A jump in foreclosures is often a sign of trouble ahead for the real estate market. In Quebec,  1 out of every 278 sold properties received a so-called 60-day notice last year. That compares to 1 in 59 in the U.S.  One out of every 860 Quebec properties was foreclosed upon, versus 1 of 45 in the U.S.

More significantly, foreclosures accounted for between 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent of all residential sales in Quebec last year. That stacked up against 26 per cent in the U.S.

A strong Quebec real estate market helped absorb those foreclosed properties efficiently. Over all property prices rose 8 per cent in the province last year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If Looks Could Kill

I went to visit a triplex in St. Henri with a client last week. The owner's cats stared at us through the front door with such A) alarm and B) disapproval that I had to snap a photo.

Cat #1 "Oh my God! They're looking in the hall closet. What if they find our stash of mice?"
Cat # 2 "I don't care if they find them but they better not eat 'em."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dusk as the River Comes Alive

I've been so busy selling houses these last few weeks that there's hardly been time to stop and enjoy the scenery. Tonight, a walk along the riverbank with my dogs (off the leash, don't tell the cops).  This is one of the top reasons to love life in Verdun.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Brief Digression into the World of Spring Fashion

I dropped in on my pal Danette's way-cool boutique L'Arterie (176 Bernard Ave. W.) yesterday while I was up in Mile End. The boutique is a blend of vintage clothes, designer threads by local creators and earth-friendly and vegan shoes and accessories.  Some smartypants once dubbed Danette the "den mother of the Mile End demimonde" a title that fits her like a glove. Plus, she's kind to animals, so what's not to like?

The shoes for spring had just come in and these babies from Unstitched Utilities immediately caught my eye. They are made from recycled Tyvek, a Dupont product used as a vapour barrier in the construction industry. Tyvek is lightweight, windproof, breathable and water-resistant, pretty much every attribute you want in a sneaker. Best of all, these kicks retail for a very affordable $69.  I suspect I might have to have some. Check 'em out at L'Arterie and throw a little change in the can by the cash to support Danette's local animal-rescue efforts.  

Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To Reno or Not To Reno? That Is the Question.

When it comes to selling houses, vendors seem to come in two basic types: those who think that spending a little on renovations will greatly boost the eventual  sale price of their property and those who think their homes are perfect just the way they are.

When it comes to preparing a house for the market, you need to step back and take an objective  look at the product you’re selling. Start by asking whether the place is clean. Next, ask if it is uncluttered. Third, ask if everything works as it should.  Only once you’re able to answer yes to those three questions should you contemplate pre-sale renovations as a way to boost market value. Seriously, a few buckets of soapy water ,  a jumbo box of Hefty Bags and $100 worth of light bulbs might be the most cost-effective investment you can make.

This isn’t to say that renovating isn’t a good investment. The Appraisal Institute of Canada has an online guide that shows the payback value of various home improvements.  You’ll get 75- to 100-per cent of the money you spend on a kitchen reno back, for example. The guide is useful inasmuch as it shows which renos bring the highest return. Getting all the money back isn’t guaranteed, however.

You should ask yourself a few more questions before gutting the kitchen. How’s your wiring? Is the electrical panel big enough? Is the plumbing okay?  Why bother with cosmetics when the fundamentals are less than sound? Sometimes renovating is like putting lipstick on a pig, a lot of effort for not much return.

I decided to renovate the kitchen in my first home knowing that I planned to sell the property within the year. The kitchen had always been the problem room in our house. It had been poorly renovated by the previous owners, the kitchen cabinets were all slightly crooked and the layout was  wrong. In all, I spent about $8,000 on off-the-shell maple cabinets at the local big-box hardware, a melamine counter, new hardware for the sink and labour. We enjoyed the kitchen for about six months before selling.

I dropped by the house to pick up mail less than a year later and was shocked to see my homey maple cabinets gone. The buyers had ripped the whole thing out and installed a sleek European style kitchen in gleaming high-gloss white. 

Was the reno worth it? We had to scratch up the money in the first place and live through a month-long gutting of the home’s nerve centre.  We enjoyed the kitchen but in the end I’m not sure we got any of that investment  back. Chalk it up to ego. I didn’t want strangers seeing how ugly my kitchen was.

Big presale renovations are best undertaken when you possess three precious commodities: time, expertise and money.   If you are living in the property, sanding and refinishing the floors is complicated. If the property is empty, it’s easy and relatively inexpensive.  Go for it.

Painting is easier. Nothing makes a place look more dated than bright accent wall colors. Neutralizing with a warm off white is the way to go. It will make any place look bigger and brighter. Again, it isn’t a costly job but it has immediate impact.

Lighting is another cost-effective fix. I recently had a client whose turn-of-the-century flat seemed quite dark. She upped all her light bulbs to 60-watt  cool whites, as opposed to warm whites  and removed all the fussy little parchment shades from her vintage fixtures. Voilà, suddenly the place was bright, even on the grayest midwinter day.

Dramatic fixtures in the living and dining room can add punch to any home, especially if they replaces weird fixtures from a bygone era. The same can be said of the vanity light in the bathroom. Does it make your reflection look green?  Switch it out. Ditto for switch plates and outlet plates. Are they utilitarian gray or beige? If so, clean white plates cost about $2 each.

The main thing to remember with renovations is that the materials can’t look cheap and the work can’t be shoddily done. If you’re going to undertake renovations, make sure you have the means to do the job well or else you’ll be throwing good money away.

On the whole, I don’t think big renovations are advisable when you’re trying to sell a house. You probably won’t get your money back and you most likely won’t get much opportunity to enjoy the upgrades yourself. Save the cash and put it into your next house, that’s my advice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Location, location, location.

I was interviewed in The Gazette recently about choosing the right location. What I had to say boiled down to "One man's fish is another man's fowl." Or something like it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Dispatch from a Plateau Lifer on his New Life in Verdun

A Facebook message arrived this morning from one of my clients, reporting on life his Verdun home, after a 27-year tenancy in the Plateau Mont-Royal. I'm not even going to try to tell you what a beautiful three-bedroom home they got for about the price of a two-bedroom Plateau flat. It would make you jealous.

Moving is always stressful and exhausting but it hasn't taken Jim long to twig to the good things Verdun has to offer. He's already a regular at The Woodland Restaurant, lauded in last Saturday's Gazette as a source for authentic Montreal pizza. Hey Jim, try Pizza Mory next time. It's always two-for-one. Make sure you ask for sesame seeds on the crust. But there I go, assuming you were ordering 'za.

The other thing Jim remarked on was the quiet pleasure of enjoying coffee at his dining room table on that first morning and watching a cardinal in his backyard tree just a few metres away. That never happened once in 27 years on the Plateau, a place known for its $5 lattés and drab little sparrows.

"I guess we're not in Kansas anymore," Jim observed in his deadpan way.

Wait a few weeks, Jim. The red-winged blackbirds will invade the hedgerows and you'll find yourself staring at them like a yokel.

During our first week in Verdun four years ago, we sprawled en famille  on the back lawn to stare at the stars in the inky midsummer sky. Our previous back yard was tiny with no lawn to speak of and tall buildings all around. The stars were virtually invisible because of the inner-city streetlights.

All of a sudden - what the heck! - fireflies. Fireflies in our backyard.  I felt like we'd hit the jackpot. Quiet nights, fathomless darkness and now lightning bugs doodling through the cooling air. We were home.

Welcome home Jim and Winnie!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Tale of Two Houses or What a Difference a Little Elbow Grease Can Mean

Just listed a spacious four-bedroom Victorian house on May St in Verdun this week. If that sounds oddly familiar, it is because my last post said essentially the same thing.

I now have two big ol' Victorians side-by-side on May, the last street in Verdun before you cross under the overpass into Point St. Charles.

The house at 276 May, listed at $299,000, is quite similar to its neighbor at 282. Built about the same time, on land that once belonged to a Mr. May. The big difference is that 276 is currently rented to a pack of university students who appear not to be earning advanced degrees in Pick Up Your Dirty Laundry or Take the Empties Back to the Dep.

OK, the place is a pig sty, but if you can see past the dirty clothes and unmade beds, this is a genteel house, as straight-backed and solid as your maiden aunt. It just needs a little love, Charlie Brown.

Below you will find a photo of the fireplace in the living room, currently inhabited by a hairy undergrad whose decorating style runs to crumpled Kleenex and pants that lie where they were dropped.  You might not notice the fireplace because his huge TV is sitting in front of it. Sigh.

The point is that this four-bedroom has the potential to be every bit as regal and inviting as its gussied up sister next door. Might you be the person with the passion and vision to bring out all its best features? It is a quality house at a bargain price.

The tenants, by the way, are leaving at the end of June.  Not a moment too soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spectacular Verdun Victorian

The parlor with its tile-fronted fireplace and the stairs leading to the bedrooms.
Take a look at this spectacular four-bedroom Victorian just listed by Amy Barratt and me. The asking price is $359,000.

UPDATE: The price has been reduced to $349,000.

The vendor has deeds, many of them handwritten in spidery cursive, going back to the late 1880s. This is a rock-solid house with brick walls and a stone foundation. The four real bedrooms on the second floor feature high ceilings and generous proportions.

The reception rooms on the main floor include a large formal parlor with a tile-fronted fireplace, a family room which was probably once the formal dining room, a dinette and kitchen. The main floor also has a water closet (toilet) near the front door, as well as a full laundry room and an open office area near the back door. There's plenty of natural light and it is surprisingly quiet, thanks no doubt to the thick stone walls and the triple-glazed windows.

The house has original woodwork throughout, hot-water radiators, lovely stained glass windows added by the owner, as well as thoughtfully chosen light fixtures that accent the property's vintage character.

Family room and dinette. The laundry room is beyond the stained-glass doors.
The owner is a gifted interior designer and something of a bulldog when it comes to home maintenance and repairs. Over the course of her decade-long tenancy, she has undertaken at least one major improvement a year - furnace, roof, windows and doors, painting, etc. Her most recent investment was an interior french drain and waterproofing of the basement. The basement is more than 6 feet, high and dry. It could be finished, if someone was so inclined.

The property has a small fenced yard which could be also be used for parking, though street parking is not a problem in this part of Verdun. May Ave. is the last street off of Wellington St. before you cross under the viaduct into Point St. Charles. The Maxi grocery store is one short block away. LaSalle metro is about two blocks away. It is a quick 15-20 minutes door to door to get downtown via public transit.

If you look around Verdun, $359,000 is a typical asking price for a two- or three-bedroom post-war cottage. They are cute and cozy but nowhere near as spacious or as grand as this Victorian beauty. This property is priced at a market discount because traffic approaching the Champlain Bridge pass overhead not too far from the building's front. It isn't particularly noisy, but the location isn't going to be for everyone.

Exterior from the corner of May Ave. and Rushbrooke St.
If you are in the market for a lovingly restored Victorian that has both acres of elbow room and impeccable bones, this could be the house for you. Give me a call at (514) 978-6522 to book a visit. You won't regret it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Buying a Fixer Upper

A lovely feature story on my Springland listing in Ville Émard, with tips for those interested in buying a fixer-upper. The printed story had way more photos.
I'm having and open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do Pets Help or Hurt When it Comes to Real Estate?

The New York Times answers the question in a recent article in its real estate section. 
According to the Times, some Manhattan agents find that the presence of a friendly pooch can help seal the deal on high-end property sales.
I am firmly in the category of people who are nutty about animals. For a while, I took cell phone pictures of every dog or cat I met while visiting properties with my clients. I had dozens of photos clogging up my memory card.
The photo here was taken a few weeks ago while I visited a house in St. Lambert with some out-of-town clients.  The owners of the house were out when we visited but their very exotic ring-tailed Siamese was home. That cat followed us everywhere we went, perched on the counter as we stood around the kitchen weighing the merits of the house. He didn't blink an eye as two excited little girls squealed and patted him.
Oli and Adri, very excited!
My clients have bought the house. Did the cat influence their decision? No, don't be silly! People don't make expensive real estate decisions because of a cat. But did the cat contribute the feeling of home and laid-back comfort they got during the visit? You can count on it.

The pendulum can swing both ways. I once did a series of open houses for a colleague where there was what can only be described as a demon dog in the house. The vendor had been recently widowed and was the sole keeper of a very large, whip-thin, black and orange striped dog with an anvil shaped head. It looked like a pitbull crossed with a greyhound.

 I've seldom been afraid of a dog in my life. This dog scared me.  The woman could not physically  handle it, consequently, the dog didn't get enough exercise. It had pent up energy and pent up energy can easily turn to aggression. The dog jumped up on me, leaving poopy paw prints on my cream-colored woolen pants. It got hold of the scarf around my neck and started playing tug of war as the woman weakly scolded "Get down, Daisy!"

During the open house, the owner went out, but she left her dog in a cage in her bedroom.
It went nuts every time the doorbell rang and then went nuts again whenever visitors innocently wandered into the master bedroom. There was a lot of barking and shrieking and tears at those open houses, only some of them from me.

If ever there was a candidate for a dog least likely to help a real estate transaction to a swift and happy conclusion, that 100 lbs of muscle, sinew and jaws was it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Classic Montreal Shoebox Reimagined

Sleek contemporary design meets rough-hewn wood  in this Montreal bungalow. Photo: Sharon Wilson.

UPDATE: My eagle-eyed vendor points out that, in fact, this was a two-bedroom when she bought, not three. 

Vintage charm meets sleek contemporary design in this light-filled two-bedroom house on Springland St. in Ville Emard.
This is a classic Montreal shoebox, one of those flat-roofed bungalows you'll find in the city's older working-class neighborhoods. They were typically owner-built at the turn of the last century and designed so that a second floor might easily be added as needed. Spacing did a story about the shoebox last, as did Susan Semenak of The Gazette. (That link has expired.)
 Amy Barratt and I have just listed  this property for sale at an asking price of $319,000.
What does that get you? It buys you a one-of-a-kind property, redone from top to bottom by a professional designer working with a team of licensed contractors. Everything has been done by the book, including a new electrical entry and wiring, plumbing stack, roof, windows, doors, floors, kitchen and bathroom. It buys a house for about the cost of a condo with the added benefit of your own garden, no upstairs neighbors and no condo fees.
This house has 812 square feet of living space on one floor, with a wonderful three-season sun porch off the back. It has a high and dry basement that is just a bit under 6 feet, perfect for storage. It also has a fenced yard and detached one-car garage that is accessible off the lane.
My client spent six months taking this little house apart last year and putting it back together to maximize all it's best features.  It was a poky three-bedroom when she bought, with dodgy 100-amp wiring and a fuse box on the back porch. The bathroom was a disaster, with a leaky and half-obstructed skylight over the bathtub. 
She stripped it down to the bones and redrew the floor plan to create a loft-like space. The living room, dining area and kitchen flow together. The master bedroom, bathroom and second bedroom line up opposite.
There are tons of little details that set this house apart. There are transoms over all the doorways, as well as custom-milled woodwork headers. The transoms allow maximum natural light throughout the day. The light fixtures are funky pendant or sconce style with recessed lights in the kitchen dining and living area.
All the original woodwork has been stripped for a rough and rustic effect. It creates a cool contrast with the contemporary kitchen with its high-gloss white and imitation wengé cabinetry.There's a plank feature wall in the living room, part of the building's original structure.
I love that she moved the bathroom so that the skylight is now over the dining room table. I also love that she found mullioned windows at an architectural salvage shop and used them instead of the utilitarian sliders that were in place in the sun porch. She chose a paint colour called "kalamata olive" for all the doors. How perfect is that?
I wrote a blog post last summer about the adventures this client and I had while trying to find the right property for her to fix up and resell. We saw some scary houses together. We also saw some really bad renovations. I didn't think much of this house the first time we saw it, except that it had a classic brick "shoebox" facade and a back yard piled with German Shepherd poop.
Frankly, she could have done a half-assed job on this place and it still would have been better than most of the "reno" jobs I see in my travels. Instead, she took care and put real effort into getting it right.
The results speak for themselves.
If you know anyone looking for a really nice house in an up-and coming part of the city, send them my way. This one is a keeper.
Don't know much about Ville Emard? It's part of the Sud-Ouest borough and is across the aqueduct from Verdun. It has two metro stops, Joliceour and Monk. This house is about a seven-10 minute walk to Monk.
Monk Blvd. is also the 'hood's main shopping drag, with groceries, pharmacy and butcher shop and fish monger, as well as a great vet and Eddy Bicycle. That last two are where I get my dogs and bikes tuned up.
My Ville Emard pals swear by the SMAD WD at Pizza Nino on Monk Blvd near Springland. For the uninitiated, that's a small all-dressed well done. Wash it down with Brio.
Me? I'd be lying if I said I never sneaked over to the original Dilallo's at the corner of Hurteau and Allard for a burger, onion rings and Cott Black Cherry soda. The walls are covered with photos of musicians and sports stars from days gone. There's something to be said for gazing at a photo of Mad Dog Vachon while hoovering back a burger.
Ville Emard, a neighborhood worth getting to know. 

2812 Springland. Ten minutes from downtown by car, 20 if you take the metro.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Smart Guy Sticks a Pin in Talk of Housing Bubble

Gazette business columnist Jay Bryan ushered out 2010 with an excellent column that explains in clear, simple terms why all the hysterical talk about the bursting of the Canadian housing bubble is so much nonsense.
He's right, of course. The Globe and Mail regularly ran stories in the Report of Business about the imminent collapse of the housing market here. Any day now. Any... day... now. . .   I guess it made a nice change from those stories about whether there was going to be a snap federal election zzzzzzzz. Sorry, the thought of an election is so boring, I must have dozed off.
I ran into several buyers in 2010 who were poised to invest in real estate because they were certain that the market was about to collapse and they would be able to swoop in and buy up distressed properties at deep discounts. With clients like that, I listen politely and then gently disagree. Prices are rising, not by leaps and bounds but they are rising. Anybody who thinks they are going to get a great deal and pay less than they did a year ago, or even two years ago, is mistaken.
Here's the column, which I can't help but notice is being widely reposted in the blogosphere. Skeptical bloggers are taking aim at Jay Bryan and accusing him of drinking Canadian Real Estate Association Kool-Aid.
I think we should let those bloggers get back to stocking up their bomb shelters.