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January Sales: A New Plateau?

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Westmount real estate looks like it is headed for a new price level as we march toward the spring sales period, usually the strongest time of year for buying and selling houses.

Often the market drops late in a year as sellers clear out the houses which have not sold, then leaps forward as buyers, hoping to move in the summer months, begin searching for their new homes. This year is no exception as the “typical” Westmount house remained at the $1,575,000 peak level reached in December, with five single-family dwellings and one duplex receiving offers averaging $1,252,000 with an average markup of 40 percent compared to municipal evaluation. Only two of the sales were below $1 million and the range of prices was very tight, between $975,000 and $1,710,000. Last year saw 33 sales at more than $2 million, but that figure was unattainable in January. So while the maximum price was lower than for any month since September 2011, the minimum price was the highest for any month since January, 2011. The average markup for all last year was only 25.6 percent, so the 40-percent markup last month is significant.

The result of the sharp surge in the last two months will only be reflected by the upcoming spring market. At this point it appears obvious that the minority Parti Québécois government is having little effect on demand for Westmount houses, and the continued low interest rates are not hurting, either. The government is trying to deflate the Canada-wide real estate “bubble” but when this will affect the top of the Montreal-area market is hard to determine.

While agents are getting ready for a busy house-buying season, the same cannot be said for condominiums. Only one Westmount condo sale was posted in January, but then, only two were posted in January last year while eight were posted in February and five in March. No new house sales were announced in January for adjacent-Westmount areas, though two condominiums — one the upper unit in a made-over duplex on Notre Dame de Grâce Avenue, the other a high-rise apartment just east of Westrmount — were sold through the MLS System.

At this point 134 houses are listed for sale in Westmount, of which 54 — 40 percent — are priced over $2 million. Only 20 have asking prices under $1 million.

Posted by andy January 2013

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