By Robert Frank
Strong demand for Laval homes pushed the total number of residential real estate sales up four percent in May, reversing a relentless two-year trend.
“This was the first increase in sales in Laval since July 2012,” Greater Montreal Real Estate Board vice-chair Diane Ménard said in a statement.
Ménard was referring to a steady decline in the total number of monthly sales, ever since the federal government tightened its rules for mortgage insurance in July 2012. The feds intervened to cool off a real estate market that had been buoyed by the lowest interest rates in history. The total number of sales here has dipped every month after Ottawa reduced the maximum amortization period for insured mortgages from 25 years to 30 years.
House prices have nonetheless remained frothy here. Despite problems at the political level, Laval’s has kept a tight rein on its civic administration. The city’s sound finances have given it a margin for manoeuvre that is the envy of other Quebec municipalities.
This has permitted Laval to freeze municipal tax rates, allow its seniors to ride free on public transit and invest in municipal infrastructure and services that make it a magnet for new residents.
Consequently, flight of overtaxed Montreal homeowners to Île Jésus continues to gather pace.
Montreal saw real estate sales plunge 12 percent in May, compared with sales during the same month last year, and prices there ebbed 0.6 percent.
In contrast, Laval residential real estate prices again led the Montreal region in May, up 1.3 percent from the year, with condo prices outpacing single-family homes.
If migration continues to drive the population upward unabated Laval could, during the next two decades, edge past Quebec City to become the province’s second-largest city.