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.