Are Montreal homebuyers wary of election uncertainty?

MONTREAL - Real estate circles are buzzing with speculation that a Parti Québécois victory would adversely affect Montreal property values, but experts point out there is no widespread evidence of sales dropping before the Sept. 4 election.

Although Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois hasn’t committed to a date for a referendum on sovereignty, some buyers and real estate experts fear a PQ victory would generate uncertainty, leading to weakening demand — especially by out-of-province investors — for Montreal properties.

Earlier this week, the PQ leader dismissed a media report about several buyers putting off their purchases of high-end homes until after the election as scare-mongering.

In fact, Actualité magazine reported that Marois and her husband, Claude Blanchet, are in the process of buying a new residence in Old Montreal, after selling their sprawling Île Bizard home last year. A Marois press aide refused to comment on any purchases of property by the couple.

The overriding fear is losing money on such a big investment.

Despite this perception by buyers, there is no conclusive data linking the presence of a PQ government since the last referendum and a drop in home prices. Figures from the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board since the 1990s show the median price of a single family home in Westmount — and the region — has generally appreciated regardless of which party was in power.

Prices did drop during the mid-1990s, during the time of a referendum on sovereignty. But economists note that it was also a time of recession compounded by government fiscal austerity measures.

Average sale prices also dropped during the mid-1990s in Toronto, figures show.

Yet some blame politics and high taxes, among other factors, for Montreal’s comparatively low real estate values, which continue to trail the national average. According to the latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average price of a Montreal home is $331,577, which lags behind the average price even in smaller markets like Edmonton and Ottawa.

Dominic St-Pierre, director of Royal LePage for the Quebec region, said he has heard anecdotes from brokers of certain high-end buyers — especially ones from outside the province — putting off sales. But such comments aren’t widespread and don’t appear to be affecting sales, he said.

“There are people who are bringing it up in high-end real estate, but we don’t think it’s broadly influencing the market,” St-Pierre said.

Most buyers and brokers, he said, make the distinction between the simple election of a PQ government and the holding of an actual referendum, which would probably have an impact on home prices.

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Marlene Ofter

Marlene Ofter

Certified Real Estate Broker
CENTURY 21 Max-Immo
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