Archive for November, 2013

What to look out for when buying a home

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Everyone’s dream home is just the right size, in the perfect neighbourhood, with exactly the features and amenities they had in mind. In reality, every home, even a brand-new one, will have flaws. The question is, are they reasonable issues or signs of an impending disaster?

1. Put Safety First

Anything that could be a safety issue is worth looking into. Investigating a home’s electrical system, for example, is crucial. Insurance companies don’t like knob-and-tube wiring (found in homes dating back about 50 years), which they label a fire hazard. The system must often be upgraded within 30 days of closing in order to get insurance, and it’s a messy job that starts at about $5,000 per storey. Also problematic are homes from six or more decades ago that have only 60-amp electrical service, which isn’t enough to support today’s appliances. That means new masks, new wiring and a new electrical meter and panel.

2. Check The Water System

Water is another key component that merits a thorough check. After making sure the basic functions of their taps and toilet work, buyers should get documents from the seller that prove the water system is legal and has been inspected, and that all renovations have been done with a permit. Otherwise, their home insurance won’t cover anything that goes wrong with those renos.

3. Look Out For Mould

Watch for evidence of mould in a prospective purchase, especially if you live in British Columbia. The No. 1 issue in Okanagan real estate for the past 10 years has been grow ops – it can cost $30,000, $50,000 or more to rehabilitate a home, says one expert. Mould – which can also be caused by flooding and leaks – can affect air quality and cause respiratory problems. Even after a former grow op is brought back up to bylaw standards, homeowners need to make sure they have papers to prove it. Otherwise, when it comes time, reselling will be a major headache.

Mould and many other more serious problems, such as asbestos, aren’t technically covered by a home inspector’s mandate or insurance. An experienced inspector will share his suspicions, then pass clients on to an expert to confirm those suspicions and suggest options. A savvy real estate agent might be able to negotiate with the seller to have the cost of a mould inspection subtracted from the purchase price.

4. Ensure A Sturdy Foundation

Foundation settlement is also a danger. Caused by extreme moisture changes, weak soil or poor drainage, it results in wall cracks that threaten the house’s structural integrity. Homes can end up needing extensive foundation upgrades to repair. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix, and soil settlement due to underground streams can make already pricey homes staggeringly expensive.

Source: Denise Balkissoon, Reader’s Digest

Is Canada’s housing market in a bubble?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Canada’s housing market is not in a bubble and not likely to suffer a sudden and sharp correction in prices unless there is another major global shock to the economy, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said Wednesday.

The central banker, testifying before the Senate banking committee on his latest economic outlook, said he believes the most likely scenario is a soft landing where home prices stabilize, although he acknowledged that an imbalance in the market and high household debt remain key risks.

Poloz used the testimony to pointedly disagree with a couple of forecasting organizations that weighed in this week on the Canadian situation — the Fitch Rating service that judged Canada’s housing market as 21 per cent overpriced, and an OECD recommendation that he start raising interest rates in a year’s time.

“Our judgment is (the housing market) is a situation that is improving, this is not a bubble that exists here that would have to be corrected,” he said. “If there is a disturbance from outside our country that’s another analysis.”

Poloz said most of the fundamentals surrounding the housing market appear headed in the right direction. The prospects for the economy is improving, he noted, which should create more jobs.

As well, he said banks are now demanding higher credit scores from new borrowers and added that he does not believe there has been serious overbuilding in the housing market.

“It looks expensive,” he said of home prices. “But which markets are expensive? Well those markets have been expensive my whole life,”he said, noting that Toronto and Vancouver both absorb high rates of immigration.

Asked to put odds on his soft landing scenario, Poloz said he would place it in the 60-to-80 per cent probability range.

Source: Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press

How to prepare your home for winter? Here are some useful tips

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Winter’s coming, and with it, plunging temperatures and shorter days that make you want to curl up and relax, warm and cosy by the fire. As the coldness looms and you prepare to pump the heat, it’s important to protect your home from potential damage and address heat and energy leaks. These seven simple tasks will help you stay warm, safe and energy-conscious this winter.

1. Prepare your hearth for fire

Before getting chestnuts ready for the roasting, get your fireplace set for the fire. Grab a flashlight and look inside for build-up, bird’s nests or obvious cracks. From the outside, check for broken bricks and crumbling mortar. Ensure that your damper opens and closes and seals tightly. Clean out the ashes and remember that in addition to these steps, you should have your chimney professionally cleaned every other year (more often if you burn a lot of fires). Stock up on wood and kindling, and you’re ready for a comfy, cosy season by the fire.

2. Seal the windows

Seal drafty windows to keep heat in and energy bills low with one (or both) of these two simple tasks. First, caulk the cracks. Sold in temporary or permanent form, caulking is inexpensive and easy to apply. Second, cover your windows in a thin plastic film (available at any hardware store) and tape it down with waterproof double-sided tape, heating the edges with a hair dryer and pressing the protective layer into place. When it gets warmer outside, simply peel the film off, open the window, and let the sun shine in.

3. Clear out the gutters

Clogged gutters block the drainage of rain and melting snow, resulting in household leaks and damage to landscape and foundation. As fall sheds its last leaves, grab a ladder, a garbage bag, some rubber gloves and dig in. Remove everything, from twigs to leaves to caked-on dirt. Check that the downpipes are clear of obstruction and then ensure the entire system is un-clogged and leak-free by running water through it.

4. Prepare for winter storms

Don’t let a blizzard take you by storm―always have a fully-stocked emergency kit at hand. Include batteries, a flashlight, candles, matches and a lighter; warm clothes and blankets; a battery-powered radio; non-perishable food items and water (two litres per adult per day); a first-aid kit and specialty products like medicine, baby formula and pet food (if necessary). Store at least three days’ worth of supplies for everyone in your household.

5. Don’t forget about heating maintenance

Is your heating system ready to weather the winter? Have a professional check your heating system and ensure it’s in good working order before you turn it on. Schedule checks for your furnace, venting system and chimney. Don’t forget to replace the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, in case any of your heating systems are overworking.

6. Pad your pipes

A small frozen pipe can cause big household damage if it bursts, so pad your pipes to prevent floods. Grab some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from your local hardware store and set to task covering exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as a basement, attic, crawl space or cabinet. The pipe sleeves are easy to apply and can be cut to fit. Cover all exposed parts, including bends and joints. Finally, seal the seams with duct tape. With that simple task, you’re not only preventing considerable water damage, but also conserving energy.

7. Clean out your garage

Like your traditional spring cleaning, consider scheduling a traditional ‘fall cleaning’ of your garage. Organize the remains of your summer projects and clean and store gardening tools. Like a seasonal turning of your closet, push what you won’t be needing ― the lawn-mower, hedge trimmer, rakes and summer toys – to the back and bring any winter necessities ― shovels, snow blowers, skis and sleds ― to the front. Set out salt and gravel containers, and you’ll thank yourself the first time the ice hits.

Source: Sara Cation, Style at Home

Latest news on Canadian home prices is that they’re on the rise

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Canadian home prices edged higher in October from the month before but the gain was lower than average, suggesting the market is cooler than usual, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday.

The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed overall prices rose 0.1 percent last month from September. The average October monthly gain over 15 years of data has been 0.2 percent, Teranet said.

The index was up 3.1 percent on an annual basis, an acceleration from September’s 2.7 percent price appreciation and well above the trough of 1.8 percent in June.

The report echoes data on both sales activity and prices that suggest Canada’s housing market has cooled after a strong spring and summer.

Economists are divided over whether the market has achieved a soft landing after years of roaring ahead, or if it will still undergo a sharp price correction similar to the U.S. housing crash. Mortgage rates remain near historic lows and are not expected to rise much as long as official interest rates are held low to stimulate the economy.

“For as long as the Bank of Canada remains on the sidelines – which we now expect until H2-2015 – the risk of an adverse development in Canadian housing is limited,” Mazen Issa, a Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a research note.

“Taken in tandem with the fading impact of tighter mortgage regulations, the outlook for housing over the near-term is expected to remain benign.”

Canada sidestepped the worst of the financial crisis of the last decade because it avoided the real estate excesses of its U.S. neighbor, and a post-recession housing boom helped it recover more quickly than its Group of Seven peers.

The housing market began to cool last year after the country’s Conservative government, worried about a potential property bubble, tightened mortgage rules. Housing has since rebounded in most markets but has started to ebb again as the summer selling season fades.

The Teranet data showed prices rose in October from September in just 3 of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed, with a 1.1 percent rise in Vancouver, a 1.0 percent rise in Halifax and a 0.9 percent rise in Calgary.

Prices were down 0.8 percent in Hamilton, 0.6 percent in Victoria, 0.5 percent in Ottawa, 0.4 percent in Quebec City, 0.3 percent in Edmonton, 0.2 percent in Toronto and 0.1 percent in Montreal and Winnipeg.

Year-on-year prices dropped in two cities – Victoria, where they were down 0.5 percent from October 2012, and Halifax, where they fell 0.7 percent.

Compared with October 2012, prices were 6.7 percent higher in Calgary, 4.6 percent higher in Hamilton, 4.1 percent higher in Toronto, 3.8 percent higher in Quebec City, 2.7 percent higher in Vancouver, 2.2 percent higher in Edmonton, 2.0 percent higher in Winnipeg, and 0.9 percent higher in Montreal and Ottawa.

Source: Andrea Hopkins, Reuters

Where is the world’s most popular luxury property destination?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The world’s most sought-after luxury property destination is Côte d’Azur, France, according to a new report.

Prime property in Costa Smeralda, Italy, and St Barts, in the Caribbean, are the next exclusive property hotspots for ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), says the Candy GPS report.

“For summer sun, the Côte d’Azur is the world’s most expensive, and desirable, luxury leisure enclave. Easily accessible from Nice and Monaco, its exclusivity, as well as the warm climate, ensures that it remains a firm favourite with UHNWIs.

“Properties here are very carefully designed to maximise privacy and sometimes have a private beach. This is increasingly sought after as parts of the wider area become increasingly commercialised and urbanised,” says report author, Yolande Barnes, Director of Savills World Research.

The newly-published report focuses on the global luxury leisure market also lists more “local” leisure enclaves that are driven by domestic wealth and looks at the potential complexities of buying abroad in terms of cultural differences, legal and tax systems and financing.

A typical five-bed home in Côte d’Azur, France, costs around US$28.5million. Costa Smeralda property fetches around US$11.5million on average and St Barts homes are U$14million, the Prime Home Index states.

The Global Prime Sector’s top residential enclaves are ranked by global reach, real estate values, exclusivity and luxury tourism measured by the highest price for a luxury hotel suite.

The top 10 then features Aspen USA (US$13million), Monaco, (US$24million), Barbados (US$23million), St Moritz, Switzerland, (US$8.5million), Seychelles (US$8million) and Maldives (US$6million).

Much of the wealth is driven by Russian wealth, the report states. “The participation of this nationality in additional home buying is an extension of their “dacha” culture back home.

“Rich Muscovites have, over the centuries, owned both a city home and a country house, or dacha. This has been easily translated into the ownership of other status-enhancing properties across the globe.

“Modern Russian wealth flows primarily into the Mediterranean, the South of France, Italy and, increasingly, to emerging destinations in the Eastern Med such as Montenegro. Russian buyers are also particularly active in the United States and Caribbean.” says Yolande Barnes.

Middle Eastern buyers are also prominent group among prime home purchasers in leading leisure destinations. “Not surprisingly, they are already the dominant buyer group in Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s leisure developments, but they are also to be found in the key luxury Mediterranean resorts, and have been high profile investors in Marbella and the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, of Sardinia.”

Asia buyers play less of a key role. “Asia, in spite of having an UHNWI population of 43,000 individuals, does not have a culture where additional home ownership in leisure destinations is usual.

“The majority of homebuying activity in the Asia-Pacific enclaves such as Phuket and Bali, for example, has been by expats. Sun, sea and sand, for example, are less highly valued and real estate purchases are singularly concentrated in urban centres, rather than the countryside or seaside.

“Many of the newly wealthy in China view the countryside as inferior to urban environments. Some Chinese buyers have discovered the joy of vineyard ownership or skiing, but these remain in a minority compared to those preferring to buy into infrastructure projects, agricultural land or income-producing real estate investments in more rural areas.”

The Candy GPS Report is produced in partnership with Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management and with exclusive research from Savills.

Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management adds, “Buying a second home can be a mix of heart and head, prompted by a few fantastic weeks spent immersed in local wine, food, and culture. But alongside the romance there is an often complex reality: cultural nuances, tax systems, due diligence, and financing.”

It points out that investors from the East and the West often have different attitudes about overseas property investment.

“The Côte d’Azur and Alps have been playgrounds of the wealthy for over a century; however, many of the emerging wealthy in Asia and the Middle East have entirely different approaches to leisure time.

“Wealthy individuals in China have often built up their wealth, run operational businesses, and take very few holidays; when they do travel for pleasure their preference is often to explore cultural centres like London or Paris. Sun holidays are often an alien concept to people living in hot climates.

“These cultural differences don’t only impact leisure preferences. There is also a correlation between culture and investment return expectations. Clients buying in traditional holiday destinations are often less concerned with the liquidity of the market and costs associated with ownership.”

Source: OPP News

Metro Vancouver home sales up but prices are slightly down

Monday, November 11th, 2013

The big rebound in Lower Mainland real estate sales appears to be over, leaving markets floating along with little movement on prices, according to the latest reports from the region’s real estate boards.

In areas covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, realtors recorded 2,661 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in October, up 38 per cent from the same month a year ago. However, the benchmark price – the average for typical homes sold across the region – settled at $600,700, a half per cent dip from October 2012.

While sales showed a considerable gain from October 2012, the rebound was not quite as strong as in recent months. September, for example, saw home sales bounce 64 per cent higher than the corresponding month in 2012. In August, sales were 53 per cent above the lacklustre month of August 2012.

“Today’s activity is helping to keep us in balanced market territory,” said board president Sandra Wyant, “which means that prices tend to experience minimal fluctuation.”

The board covers Vancouver and most Metro Vancouver areas west of Surrey and Mission.

Sales for October were 2.8 per cent above the 10-year average for October, while new listings – at 4,322 – were two per cent below the 10-year average for the month.

In the Fraser Valley, which includes Surrey, realtors recorded 1,249 sales in October, an increase of 19 per cent from the same month a year ago. The benchmark price across all properties was $482,951, up 2.3 per cent from October of 2012.

“We’ve had a great summer and good early fall, but it’s important to remind everyone of the context,” said Ron Todson, Fraser Valley Board president. “The last four months of 2012 were amongst the slowest for our real estate market in the last 15 years.”

In the Fraser Valley, the rebound has not been as strong. September sales there were 32 per cent higher than September 2012, while August sales were 17 per cent above the year-earlier period. “What we’re witnessing is a return to a balanced residential market indicated by prices remaining unchanged or down slightly compared to a year ago, stable inventory levels and the average length of time to sell a home is about two months,” Todson said.

By category, detached-home sales in the REBGV were up 35 per cent from October a year ago, with the benchmark price of a typical house sold hitting $922,600, down a half per cent from October 2012.

October condo sales in the REBGV rose about 37 per cent from the same month a year ago. The benchmark average price of $365,000 was 0.9 per cent lower than in October 2012.

Townhouse sales in the REBGV rose 47 per cent from the same month a year ago and the benchmark price was $458,000, little changed from October 2012.

In the Fraser Valley, October detached home sales were up about 10 per cent over the same month a year ago, while the benchmark price was $551,400, up marginally from October 2012.

Fraser Valley condo sales were 38 per cent higher than the previous October and the October benchmark condo price was $199,500, down 2.2 per cent.

Fraser Valley townhome sales were up 33 per cent from the previous October. The benchmark townhouse price hit $295,500, down 0.5 per cent.

Source: Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun

Why doesn’t Canada keep data on foreign property ownership?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Why does Canada not keep public data on investment ownership in real estate, whether by foreigners or homegrown residents? Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun wrote this interesting article in today’s paper:

The question is starting to gain more attention than when some of us in B.C. raised it earlier this year.

With Canadian cities, especially Metro Vancouver, becoming infamous for their unaffordability in regards to real estate, another voice has been added to those urging the federal Conservative government to at least collect data on the influence of investors — foreign and otherwise — on the country’s housing market.

The latest call for property ownership transparency comes on top of recent media reports in Canada that the real estate market of London, England, has become badly distorted by ultra-wealthy foreign owners, referred to as “non-domiciled residents.” The influence of such buyers, including many Russian tycoons, is said to be causing London’s housing prices to “lose touch with reality.”

If that’s what the British media are saying about London, what would they say about Vancouver, which Demographia judges the second most unaffordable city in the world, after Hong Kong.

Here is an excerpt from a new column on the need to collect foreign ownership data, by Toronto business writer David Parkinson. It’s headlined: “Canada’s housing numbers don’t measure up”:

“….a bigger concern are the numbers on investment activity in the housing market, particularly among foreigners. They don’t exist. Last week, some of the country’s top economists raised this issue with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who has acknowledged that he has no hard data on how much of Canada’s housing boom has been fuelled by investors who are looking to make money as property owners rather than acquire personal residences.

The distinction matters a great deal. A substantial downturn in the housing market – say, one triggered by government policy – would trigger a much bigger exodus of investors than permanent residents, and so the risks to the Canadian economy rise with the proportion of investor money pumping up the market. And yet Mr. Flaherty has been crafting policy aimed at cooling the market without that information. The Office of the Superindentent of Financial Institutions has been talking since mid-2011 about uncovering the amount of foreign investment in Canada’s real estate market – and yet we still have no visibility.

Cleaning up this muddle of inadequate housing data must be made top priority for Canada’s financial and statistical institutions. We can’t keep flying blind.”

Which are the best neighbourhoods for buying a home in Canada?

Friday, November 1st, 2013

I came across this interesting article on MoneySense who performed an analysis of Canada’s real estate market to find out which neighbourhoods are set to soar in value in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal. Here is an edited version, but for the full-length article, please see

On one side, there are international economists — and their much publicized reports — declaring the market to be overvalued and due for a sudden, corrective crash. Then there are the local analysts who oscillate between doom-and-gloom predictions and the potential for a soft landing. Caught in the middle are prospective homeowners and real estate investors who are just trying to negotiate a good deal.

The first thing we looked for was value. Armed with detailed data from local real estate boards, we identified neighbourhoods where home prices are cheap when compared with adjacent areas and the city as a whole. Next we looked for momentum. By drilling down into one-year and three-year price appreciation statistics for various neighbourhoods, we were able to identify which areas of the city had the fastest rising home prices.

Our realtor panel, consisting of more than 35 experts helped us factor in the countless intangible factors that will impact these neighbourhoods over the next three years.


We all know how expensive real estate is in Greater Vancouver. But does it mean buying a home there is a bad investment? Not necessarily. At present, Vancouver’s unemployment, at 4.5%, is significantly better than the national average of 7%. While prices in the city have dipped, there are still neighbourhoods that are headed up.

Communities in New Westminster, Burnaby and Coquitlam all showed excellent long-term value, but the five neighbourhoods we feel will gain the most in the next few years are all inside the City of Vancouver. Best bets are Mount Pleasant (West and East), Fairview, Main and Fraser.

While the average price point for West Mount Pleasant (the area west of Ontario Street) was over $1.3 million, our realtors felt there was room for further increases. The west side of Mount Pleasant borders on Cambie Village and the SkyTrain’s Canada Line. It also has easy access to downtown, by transit, car or bike.

East Mount Pleasant, our number five neighbourhood, is also worth exploring. Houses just east of Ontario Street are typically 20% to 30% cheaper, with the average sale price in 2013 just over $800,000.

Those wanting to move closer to the beaches—but not pay Kitsilano or Point Grey prices—should check out Fairview. Located between Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant, Fairview’s average home price is 36% less than comparable homes directly to the west. This potential value and its proximity to downtown has meant an almost 6% appreciation in the last year alone.

Finally, consider Main — a residential area located a few blocks east and west of the popular Main Street strip. Like Mount Pleasant, homes on the east side sell for $300,000 to $400,000 less than their west-side counterparts, but both areas have great access to good schools, tons of independent shops and restaurants and Queen Elizabeth Park.


The first on our list in Calgary is the Southwest (SW) community of Lakeview. Numerous biking and hiking trails are scattered throughout the 2.3 square kilometres of mostly single-family, detached homes. Despite everything this area has to offer, housing prices are 4% lower than the average home in the Southwest quadrant of the city, lending value to an already established neighbourhood.

The next neighbourhood on our list is Spruce Cliff. Established in 1950, Spruce Cliff is also located in the SW quadrant of Calgary. Unlike Lakeview, almost half of the dwellings in Spruce Cliff are condos or townhomes — testament to the amount of development and growth this area has experienced in the last decade.

Next on our list is Varsity Village — voted the best community to live in by local media in recent years. Located in the Northwest quadrant of the city, this pedestrian-friendly development was built 50 years ago. Varsity Village is close to the University of Calgary and Foothills Hospital, as well as the new Alberta Children’s Hospital.


While Edmonton is not exactly a flashy city, it’s enjoyed unprecedented growth in the past decade thanks to the resource industry and infrastructure projects, such as the building of a new ring road. According to our analysis, the best neighbourhoods to watch fall within the North Central and Northwest regions just outside the city’s downtown core. Topping the list is an area known as Zone 7, which includes the communities of Inglewood, Kensington, Westmount and North Glenora. On average, homes in these neighbourhoods were priced almost 8% cheaper than the rest of the city and in the last three years have appreciated by almost 13%.

Immediately to the east and closer to the downtown core is Zone 8. Known as Central Edmonton, the neighbourhoods with the most appeal include Prince Rupert and Queen Mary Park. The neighbourhoods are close to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, meaning many homes rent out basement apartments to students. It’s also close to the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Kingsway Mall, the second largest mall in Edmonton.

On paper the zone’s real estate prices dropped over the last three years, but this was due largely to a large number of newly built condos hitting the market and lowering average prices. While this may skew the numbers a bit, it’s also a great sign that the area is growing in popularity and value.


Despite endless chatter about an overheated market, Toronto housing prices have continued to climb, with some homes attracting multiple bids and selling for $100,000 or more over list price.

While our top two Toronto neighbourhoods—Wychwood and the Junction Area—are no strangers to bidding wars, we still feel these areas offer great opportunities for near-future appreciation. Why? Despite Wychwood homes selling for almost 63% more than the average-priced Toronto home, these properties are still 19% cheaper than homes in neighbouring areas. That’s because Wychwood is nestled next to two of Toronto’s more expensive urban communities, Casa Loma and the Annex. Close proximity to wealthy neighbourhoods, access to transit and the downtown core, excellent green space, and a newly built community space (known as Wychwood Barns) all make this an under-appreciated area.

The Yonge-St. Clair neighbourhood is also seeing price momentum because of its proximity to wealthier neighbourhoods. Despite its steeper price tag—average homes cost just over $1.1 million — the area has realized a 30% price appreciation in the last year.

Two other neighbourhoods to consider are Englemount-Lawrence in the northwest, near the Allen expressway, and Moss Park, an area going through massive gentrification. Englemount-Lawrence is right beside the popular, and very expensive, Forest Hill neighbourhood. That means residents here can purchase a good-sized bungalow, on a fairly big lot, for as little as $600,000, as opposed to a Forest Hill semi for around $950,000. Based on our statistics, homes in the Englemount-Lawrence area were priced 40% lower than Forest Hill, on average, but with similar access to schools, shopping and transit.

For near-future appreciation Moss Park is the neighbourhood to buy. Every realtor we spoke to considered it an excellent area to invest, mainly because there’s been so much development, with more being planned. In the last year alone property values have appreciated by almost 12.5%, while the average price for homes in this area is still 27% less than the average-priced home in the City of Toronto.


Montreal offers something for everyone—as long as you can find a job. While the national unemployment rate hovers at around 7%, Montreal’s unemployment rate sits at 8.2%. Still, the city saw a 4% rise in its population from 2011 to 2012 and announcements of inner-city rejuvenation — including the new McGill University Health Centre — are helping bolster property prices. Real estate is still cheap compared with other major Canadian cities—the average price of a home on Montreal Island is $481,386, and if you broaden the boundaries and look at the Greater Montreal Area, including the North and South Shores, the average home price is $324,595.

The best real estate opportunities right now are on the island itself. First on our list is the Rosemont/La Petite Patrie area, known locally as Little Italy. In the last three years, as the neighbourhood has become popular with buyers, prices have zoomed up 23%.

If the average property price of $468,000 is a bit daunting, consider our next top neighbourhood of Villeray/Saint Michel/Parc-Extension. The main draw is the neighbourhood’s affordability. Average property prices are more than $100,000 cheaper than neighbouring communities and the area is experiencing dramatic growth.

The third neighbourhood in our Montreal ranking was South-West (also known as Sud-Ouest). Homes in this area are 11% cheaper than the average Montreal Island home, but area prices have appreciated 40% in the last three years.

Two other neighbourhoods to consider are Verdun and LaSalle—both on the southern tip of the island. While Verdun is an older neighbourhood (originally settled by the Irish) it’s got a lot of potential. Despite a three-year appreciation of 22%, families may be leery of the area, given its high crime rate. Still, with its close proximity to the canal, downtown, the Métro (Montreal’s subway system) and Concordia University, it’s only a matter of time before the area experiences true gentrification.

Source: Romana King, MoneySense

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