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.