Turning the corner
The normally-slow January in Westmount real estate repeated itself this year with seven sales of single-family dwellings and one duplex drawing an average price of $2,953,500 and a median of $2,700,000, including only two sales under $2 million with the lowest reported price at $1,918,000.
The market appears to be turning the corner, however, as four of the eight sales took less than three weeks to sell — at least one going for $100,000 more than the asking price and another selling for 2.5 times its municipal valuation. The latter sale pulled the average mark-up in the month to 40.5 percent, the highest monthly average since June of last year when buyer resistance to the high Westmount pricvews started to be felt. All of this awaits the normally-strong spring market, but of course there are many factors — pandemic recovery, interest rates, business investment plans and so much more — that can influence the local real estate market.
Supply, of courses, is another factor and the market is only just coming back from the holidays, with 58 home listings at last report while there were only 53 in mid-January. Of those, only 11 are listed for less than $2 million, with the lowest asking price at $1,089,000, while 17 are asking over $5 million, all the way up to $27,500,000.
Westmount’s home rental market is also off to a slow start, with only one rental posted by mid-February. That involved an upper-Westmount home which will be rented for $14,000 per month, the only listing asking more than $10,000 so far this year. By this time last year four houses had been rented, including one for $12,000.
The final figures for last year show a total 149 sales arranged by local agents, up from 140 in 2020 and 138 in 2019, with the average adjusted price for a Westmount house at $2,570,807, up from $2,264,691 in 2020. For those who want a point of reference, the adjusted value has doubled since 2009, tripled since 2002 and quadrupled since 2000, when the average Westmount house would have sold for about $645,000.
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Improving your home is never a waste of money. Remodels and upgrades increase the value of your house, but more importantly, they afford you the opportunity to fully enjoy your home while living in it. Some improvements are simple and you can do them on your own, But most significant improvements require help from professionals. Here, McGuigan Pepin Realties suggests a few areas of your home to consider remodeling, along with some perks associated with upgrading.
Kitchens quickly become outdated and disorganized. Especially for resale purposes, remodeling and modernizing the kitchen will help improve the value of your house. A kitchen remodel should not be attempted without the help of professionals who can pay attention to the details — ranging from upgrading electrical and plumbing to installing tile, cabinets, and fixtures properly.
Since the kitchen is likely one of the most-used rooms in your house, it’s important to get the right design in order to meet your tastes and needs. A kitchen designer can help you develop the perfect layout, choose the right materials, and help you manage the costs. Additionally, they can work with your contractor to ensure that your vision is accurately executed.
Bathrooms are not only essential to every house, but they can also be a beautiful, serene, spa-like space right in the middle of your home. Similar to kitchens, a qualified designer and contractor is needed to ensure the renovation is up to code (check with the proper municipal authorities) that the layout flows, that there are no mishaps during demolition, that there is proper insulation to keep out moisture, and that all plumbing and electrical are installed correctly. Bathroom remodels have the effect of welcoming your guests to a beautiful space and provide you with a space to wind down daily.
While master bathroom remodels might cost a little more, HGTV notes that you can remodel the guest bathrooms for a reasonable price. Simply changing out a vanity, adding new fixtures, and applying a new coat of paint will make a big difference. If you can take it one step further by replacing the tile, remodeling the baths/showers, and maximizing space by changing the design, you will find that the whole room is transformed.
An unfinished basement is a blank slate just waiting to be redesigned. And whether you want to turn your basement into a rec room, a living area, a gym, or a multipurpose room, refinishing and remodeling your basement can make a big difference in your home’s value. Always ask a professional for advice
This is definitely a job best left to professionals, especially if any sort of wall demolition is in order. Finding the right contractor for a basement remodel is crucial. Not only do you need to find someone who fits your budget and understands your vision, but you also need someone who has a history of providing quality workmanship. Your best bet is to get three different bids, and then narrow down your choice from there.
Finally, because it’s such a big job, you’ll need to get a solid handle on your budget. Remember, the materials you use and the design specs can cause costs to jump quickly, but with a budget in mind, you can carefully choose your options. Consider using a renovator cost estimator to get a rough idea of what you can expect to pay.
Inevitably, most homeowners find themselves in need of extra storage. Holiday decorations, seasonal clothes, keepsakes, tools, and the like all pile-up. To avoid a cluttered house and to prevent needing to move to a bigger space, consider putting a steel building on your property. Long-term, it’s probably cheaper to install a steel building than to rent a storage unit. It’s a durable, cost-effective solution that will help to minimize the clutter in your home while keeping your belongings close to the house.
Steel buildings can be quick and easy to erect. However, if you are not used to DIY projects, then you should consider hiring a handyman to assemble the building. Proper installation can help avoid any damages and reduce the likelihood of having to replace the building in the future due to poor assembly.
Remodeling and upgrading your home can make you feel like you’ve moved into a new place, and it can have you falling in love with your home all over again. You can tackle some small projects yourself. But when it comes to big remodels of key rooms, and when specialized skills are needed, you should consider hiring a professional to make sure the job is done right. That way, you can focus on your vision for the home and trust that it will become a reality.
If you’re planning to buy or sell a home and you want the process to go successfully, reach out to McGuigan Pepin Realties today! 514.937.8383
Guest article Megan Cooper.
Condominiums appear to be the late-2021 feature in Westmount real estate, which may have something to do with the lack of supply in the housing market. Though prices are easing off somewhat, it may be that buyers are settling for apartment or duplex-type living rather than pay out the prices being asked for local houses.
Eight single-family dwelling sales in December rounded out the calendar year for Westmount real estate, but another two condo sales that month brought the total for the fourth quarter of 2021 to 19 sales, a record high for the fourth quarter going back to 1999. Last year saw a total of 61 condo sales, also a record high.
Condo prices stayed relatively similar throughout the year, enraging between $1,024,000 and 1,096,000 per quarter except for two high-rise penthouses that sold for $4,850,000 and $4,000,000 in the third quarter, skewing the average prices upward and with well-above-average mark-ups overvaluation. Except for those two (and the new units at 1111 Atwater Ave., which have yet to be included in the valuation roll for comparison purposes), the highest price in the year was $2,550,000 and the lowest price was $380,000, a sale which took place in November. For the record, the highest price in the fourth quarter was $1,680,000 for an upper duplex on Arlington Ave. One more share of a Wood Ave. duplex also sold in December.
December’s single-family sales included one lower-Westmount house, extensively renovated, that went for $5,200,000, and an upper-level house which sold for $3,300,000, an indication there is still a market in that range. Three others sold above $2 million and the lowest price was $1,600,000. Mark-ups overvaluation ranged from two percent to 67.9 percent, with the average at 32.8 percent.
As of mid-January, only 53 houses remained on the market, down from 74 a month earlier, and only six of those are asking less than $2,000,000, the lowest asking $1,188,000.
Some 40 houses have been rented in 2021 — five of them for more than $10,000 per month — and there are 15 houses on the rental market now, up from 11 a month earlier.
As we move into the spring market things should start getting busier for Westmount real estate and as demand grows the prices should start moving up again. Overall, prices were up 13 percent between 2020 and 2021; with an expected hike in interest rates in the coming year this might put a stall on price levels generally in the Montreal area, and this will eventually be felt in Westmount as well.
Volume remained strong but the raw average house price in Westmount actually dipped below $2 million in October, as 13 sales agreements were posted by local agents who reported an average price of $1,966,154, the first time the average price has been less than $2 million since April, 2020. The October sales averaged 28 percent higher than municipal valuation, the lowest average mark-up since May, but once adjustments are made for extreme sales, the average adjusted price appears to be holding its own. For a house with an evaluation of $1,936,000, the statistics tell us, owners might expect to get something over $2,600,000.
In October the highest price was only $3,700,000 while another summit-area house price was recorded late for September with a price tag of $5,125,000, thus making it the highest price for that month. The lowest October price was $1,270,000; significantly, only four of the 13 sales were priced over $2 million, but the average mark-up over valuation was 28.6 percent and none of the sales involved mark-downs from tax value.
The average listing spent 73 days on the market, and perhaps more important, the median length of time was only 36 days — a little more than a month — meaning this is still a “seller’s market.” Bidding wars were not uncommon and few asking prices had to be reduced before sales were negotiated.
Among condominiums, 6 more were sold in October with an average price of $1,061,667. The average has been over $1 million since early last year, and the “adjusted” value of Westmount condos has been over $1 million since the first quarter of 2019. Condo prices ranged from $500,000 to $1,450,000; the highest mark-up was 35.6 percent, but there were two marked-down properties, one at at 285 Clarke Ave. and the other at 200 Lansdowne Ave, the latter some 8.2 percent less than valuation.
As the holiday season approaches, listings (at least for houses) are starting to dwindle, down from 84 in mid-October to 81 a month later, though the number asking between $1 million and $2 million actually grew to 18 from 14. Another 11 houses are available for rent.
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Purchasing a house is a milestone for any individual or family. While it starts an exciting new chapter, however, the whole process can seem daunting. And in a time when homes are going for higher list prices than in the past, buying a house may feel especially overwhelming as well as pressing.
Though it’s challenging, however, you can close a deal on the right home for you and your family if you take the time to prepare and you make smart decisions along the way. McGuigan Pepin Realties has broken down the process into seven steps:
1. Evaluate Your Finances
Your credit score matters a lot to lenders. Unless you have an above-average score, you should be working day by day to improve it. Once you have a plan for boosting your credit, go over your household budget to determine how much house you can afford.
Obviously, your estimated home price will depend not only on your monthly income and expenses but also on your future plans. You don’t want to commit to a house that you will have trouble making payments on down the road.
2. Start Saving
Even if you can qualify for a government-backed loan that requires no down payment, it’s better to pay as much down as you possibly can. Doing so will help you secure a lower-interest home loan and have less to pay off in the long term.
Come up with a strategy that helps you set money aside for your down payment, and shoot for saving up 50% of your home’s purchase price. At the very least, you’ll want to plan for 20%.
3. Get a Real Estate Agent
Agencies like McGuigan Pepin Realties are indispensable when it comes to the home purchasing (or selling) process. The right agent can help you with virtually every step of the process, from choosing a home to negotiating with sellers. Research your area and get references you trust to find a top realtor near you.
4. Go Hunting
Now to the fun part—house hunting. A lot of factors go into determining which property is best for you and your family. Take time to consider everything from the layout to the exterior material to the backyard. Your priorities will ultimately dictate what kind of home you need, as well as the amount of money you can comfortably spend.
One way to score a great deal on a home is to purchase a property “as-is”. Essentially, this refers to buying a home in whatever condition it is, with the seller having no obligation to perform repairs. Oftentimes, an as-is home will be listed for a much lower price than other homes of the same style, size, etc. If you go this route, make sure you have the property thoroughly inspected, and consult a lawyer with experience in real estate.
5. Get Pre-Approved
You can take care of this step before or after the house-hunting process. If you do it before, you will be more prepared to land a purchase quickly before other buyers get their hands on the property. The most important thing is not to simply accept the first pre-approval you get. You want to make sure you are working with a reputable lender and that the terms you agree to will work in your favor.
6. Present (and Negotiate) Your Offer
You’re nearly there; now all you have to do is present your offer to the seller! As previously mentioned, a real estate agent can prove invaluable during this process because they know how to negotiate. The key is to avoid agreeing to a price you will have trouble with later on. At the end of the day, you want to get the best price possible on your dream home while also remaining fair to the people selling it.
Don’t let the fact that the home buying process can be overwhelming deter you from pursuing the home of your dreams. Take the time to prepare and make good decisions throughout the process. Along with following the tips listed here, keep researching to learn any other steps that are necessary for your specific situation. And remember to get a good realtor!
Are you looking for a top-notch realtor in the Montreal area? Contact McGuigan Pepin Realties today!