Earlier this year, many were predicting that housing prices would dip in response to the economic uncertainty created by the pandemic. However, the Montreal market has proved resilient, withÂ housing prices on and off the island steadily increasing.
Georges Gaucher, general manager of Royal LepageÂ Village, explained that for many, the restrictions imposed byÂ the pandemic “pushed people’s boundaries” and incited a desire for more space.
“Imagine aÂ young couple in their 20s, both working from home. They live in a 700 quare-footÂ condo in Griffintown. If you live alone in 700 square feet, sometimes you go out of your mind. Imagine being two,” he said.
He said the year started off strong, with an extremely busy sales season right after Christmas.
“We’ve never seen so much activityÂ in the firstÂ 10 weeks of the year,” said Gaucher.Â
But then confinement put a stop to home visits and realtors were stuck trying to navigate alternative ways of doing business, includingÂ virtual visits and the use ofÂ drones to gather property video.
But following the height of the firstÂ wave, Gaucher said that people were eager to upsize, leaving the city for suburbs where they could continue to work from home or even investing in cottage properties.
“Brokers in the LaurentiansÂ had listingÂ for one, two, threeÂ years sometimesÂ and suddenlyÂ all that inventory was sold.”
“It was like a rubber band. YouÂ stretch and stretchÂ until it snaps.”
Gaucher explained that since demand was so high, the limited supply of houses going on the market drove up prices in the Greater Montreal Area.
However, the demand for suburban housing doesn’t mean the downtown core is being devalued.
“The downtown core is always the last one to be hit and the first one to recoup, historically,” said Gaucher.
Despite price increases, he said Montreal is still more affordable than cities like Toronto and Vancouver where housing has become increasingly unattainable for many.
Looking ahead to 2021
While theÂ CanadaÂ Mortgage and Housing Corporation is predicting that prices nationwide will decline in 2021, and some of the country’s biggest banks foresee more muted growth,Â the Royal Lepage forecast is more optimistic, predicting a six per cent increase in prices in 2021.
“We will probably come out of this confinement with some pent-up demand again,” GaucherÂ said.
The company’sÂ forecast for 2021 expects theÂ median price of a standard two-storey home in the Montreal area to be $656,200. The median price of a condoÂ is forecast to beÂ $382,600.
TheÂ Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers reported a “record-setting sales” year forÂ 2020, with a projected 110,000 transactions.
Looking ahead, Charles Brant, director of the the association’sÂ market analysis department, is cautiously optimistic as well.
Â “After phenomenal sales in 2020, we will return to a more normal sales level, with market conditions that are still favourable to sellers,” he said in a news release.