Condo listings surge in signal of downtown Toronto weakness
It’s not just Toronto. Montreal is seeing a flurry of condos being put up for sale, suggesting the city’s housing boom may be fading as the effects of the pandemic start to bite.
New condo listings on the island of Montreal were up 72 per cent in the third quarter, the biggest annual increase in 17 years, according to data from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers. The greater Montreal area recorded a 61 per cent jump.
A vibrant economy, steady flows of immigrants and affordable home prices compared with Toronto turned Quebec’s biggest city in a hot market in recent years. Now both cities are suffering from side effects of the COVID-19 crisis: Immigration has slowed, depressing the rental market in city centers, while some people who are doing their jobs from home are seeking more space in the suburbs.
The increase in condo listings in Montreal started a few months ago downtown -- traditionally a magnet for foreign buyers and students -- and extended more recently to areas such as Plateau Mont Royal, one of the most sought-after neighborhoods for European immigrants, according to Charles Brant, the association’s director of market analysis.
“We can see the wind turning in those markets,” Brant said. “But we’re still in sectors that are favorable to sellers. There’s no catastrophe.”
Condo prices on Montreal island are so far holding up, climbing 10 per cent year-over-year in September after an 11 per cent jump in August and 14 per cent in July. But it’s taking longer to deplete inventory. And developers of new condos are handing more of those listings to brokers, in contrast with the past three years, when developers mostly handled the sales themselves, Brant said.
“It means the market is more difficult,” he said.
Tellingly, new listings in the southwest part of the city are up 171 per cent. That area includes Griffintown, a neighborhood of young professionals that’s home to many new condo towers.