Radio Series

Purchasing Property: A Long-Term Investment

This week on CIBL’s Les Oranges Pressées, we will shed light on a subject that has a lot of people talking: reselling condos for profit. Our discussion will be based on an article from La Presse titled One in Three Condos are Sold at a Loss. We will qualify certain remarks made in the article, including those based on statistics from the firm JLR.

Market Transitions
The real estate sector used to be idle, but has moved from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. Consequently, this growing buyer’s market has led to an abundance of condos in Montreal’s central neighborhoods.

Delays Between Purchasing and Reselling
Analyses from the firm JLR found that 33% of condos purchased in 2012–2013 and resold before December 31, 2015, was put up for sale for an equal or inferior price than originally listed. We must interpret these values on the level of the micro real estate market, that is to say, to take into consideration the costs associated to reselling. In reality, a two-year period between purchasing and reselling is too short to be able to get a return. Typically, a minimum period of five years is needed to generate a profit.

When it comes time to resell a property, owners must bear in mind all the associated costs, such as notary fees, welcome taxes, brokerage fees, and transfer taxes. Together, these costs represent an expense of nearly $20,000. Therefore, in order to resell a home without any loss just two years after its purchase, the market would have to increase at a rate of 3.5% per year, which represents a total augmentation of 7% over two years to make a $22,000 profit. In this case, the associated costs at the resale stage would be met and there would be no loss.

Think about property investments the same way you would think about adopting a pet: when you commit yourself to an animal, it’s for the long haul! It’s unrealistic to think that you can make money on a short-term basis by investing in real estate. Purchasing a home is not a magic formula that will automatically generate quick profits. For example, investing in duplexes and triplexes will only become profitable after twenty years or so, once all the debt is taken care of and a revenue is generated. In other words, buying a condo is never so clear-cut; it can take a lot of time and effort before your investment gets profitable.

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Property Renovations: What to Invest in Before Selling Your Home

This week on CIBL’s Les Oranges Pressées, our discussion will be based on an article from La Presse titled Renovating for Better Sales: Where to Invest, and What to Avoid. Using it as a guide, we will go over the most advantageous renovation projects for a home seller.

Home Expansions

Getting a return on an investment from a property expansion is not always guaranteed and can depend on many different factors. For example, the expansion of a home in the suburbs is not recommended because of neighborhood standards. If you start modifying your property, it will no longer correspond to the square footage of surrounding homes, and you’ll risk losing the capital gain on your investment. On the other hand, in some Montreal neighborhoods like Ahuntsic, the demand is quite high, so the money spent on expansion projects has a higher probability of being recovered.



Many believe that unfinished basements are a perfect opportunity for future owners to design a space to their liking. However, it is strongly advised to finish the space before the sale, since y­oung families purchasing their first homes rarely have the necessary funds for such renovations.



A house’s design and interior decoration are often the product of fashion trends. Updating out-of-fashion materials without spending excessive sums will play in the seller’s favor since these types of renovations guarantee a recovery of investments.


Swimming Pools and Landscaping

If you decide to launch yourself into the construction of an in-ground pool, keep in mind that you will never secure a total return on your investment. The cost of installing an in-ground pool is estimated at $50,000, while the return will only get you between $10,000 and $15,000. Although we can’t quantify the luxury and moments of happiness that come with owning an in-ground pool, be aware that future potential buyers will have their own expectations and notions of luxury!

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Expanding Your Property: At What Cost and Why?

This week on Les Oranges Pressées on CIBL, we’re talking about property expansions by way of additional floors or new basements. This kind of renovation is increasingly common, but it’s always best to get informed before taking on such a sizeable task.


Although the majority of neighborhoods in Montreal authorize expansions, certain districts regulate these types of renovations. For example, the Plateau Mont-Royal borough applies a tax equivalent to 10% of the land value. For a property of $150,000, that means a sum of $15,000 must be paid to the borough.


According to architect Yves Perrier, owners must plan $175 per square foot for the addition of a new floor. This value can vary depending on the type of work to be done, and may even increase up to $200 per square foot. Whether it’s adding a floor or a new basement, home expansions are always an expensive investment. That said, one positive aspect is that costs are returned without fail at the time of resale since new additions increase property values.

These new additions represent much more than a simple expansion—they are the perfect opportunity for architects to put their expertise to work, providing homeowners with a new and improved lifestyle. This massive investment is worthwhile not only in terms of profits but also because it creates a new living space for the current family and all future owners.

Home expansions often occur with the arrival of a new family member. However, real estate market prices can deter families from purchasing new and larger properties. A simple solution is to extend a floor or design a basement. The fact that many families have carried out such expansions, and haven’t moved since goes to show how advantageous these large investments can be!

Between adding a floor or digging a basement, there is no one expansion better than the other. It really all depends on personal needs. In both cases, the best advice is to keep a natural light in mind, that is to say, to take advantage of the construction work and open up the space to let in as much light as possible. Buyers are fond of this type of renovation, which will in turn balance out the costs of the work done!

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Investing in a Semi-Commercial Property: A Good or Bad Idea?

This week on Les Oranges Pressées on CIBL, we will be discussing investments in semi-commercial properties and whether they are worth the effort. Every real estate agent will tell you: there’s a big difference between buying a condo or duplex, and acquiring a property that is half commercial. Although Montreal has interesting commercial strips, it’s always a good idea to do some research before diving in.

Property Access

Becoming a commercial property owner is not as easy as owning a fully residential property. In the first case, you must dispose of funds equivalent to approximately 35% of the sale price of the property in question. Luckily the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)—whose mission is to assist Canadians seeking housing—can be of use to you if you decide to open your business at the ground level and live upstairs! In this case, the CMHC can provide you with insurance and fifteen down payments.

A Long-Term Investment

Leases for semi-commercial properties are of longer duration than residential buildings and are therefore excellent long-term investments. However, you must pay special attention to the quality of the commercial premises. In fact, some commercial strips found in Verdun, the Plateau Mont-Royal, or Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are characterized by neglected commercial buildings. Back in the day, shopkeepers did not necessarily live above their shops, which resulted in unkempt properties. But this trend has recently taken a turn, and shopkeepers are now increasingly living above their businesses.

Two Opportunities

When purchasing a semi-commercial property, two possibilities are available to you: you can either build your commerce on the ground floor and live above it, or you can live above and rent the commercial space to another business. In the second case, pay special attention to the price! Make sure to offer a reasonable rent to allow a business to settle in. Determine whether a shopkeeper would be compelled to move into your building. If this is not the case, the investment becomes much less interesting for you too! Also take into consideration the period between tenant occupancies, since a vacant space means additional fees and expenses for the property owner.

The acquisition of a semi-commercial property is a profitable and guaranteed investment if you plan to live there and establish a commercial business. Moreover, it protects you from rent increases! On the other hand, choosing to rent the space to another business can be tricky, since in this case, you will have to depend on finding tenants who will agree to your set prices.

In both cases, it’s important to conduct a market study to identify the trends of the commercial strip you will invest in. Bankers are a great resource on the subject, so feel free to consult with them when applying for your loan.

Do you have any real estate questions ?  Call or email us with your questions and we will make sure to answer all your questions.

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Real Estate Feature: Are Property Flips a Trend?

Retrouvez la chronique sur Soundcloud.comOn this week’s real estate feature on Les Oranges Pressées on CIBL, director of Via Capitale du Mont-Royal Nathalie Clément will be speaking to us about the recent wave of real estate flips in the United States and Canada. Our guest will also explain to us the difference between a prior notice and a home surrender.

For more information, read this article in La Presse:
Are Real Estate Flips Lucrative?

Read the transcript here:

Real Estate Feature: Are Property Flips a Trend?

Julien: It’s almost 8:08. We turn to Nathalie Clément, director of Via Capitale du Mont-Royal. Hello, Nathalie.

Nathalie: Hello.

Julien: Today you’ll be talking to us about property flips and flipping.

Nathalie: Yes. So these last two weeks I noticed an event on my Facebook feed called “Flipping Montreal.” The people behind the event have a television show in the United States, and they tour large American cities, or in this case Montreal, to explain how they do real estate flips. What is a flip? A flip constitutes of buying a property, renovating it, and then reselling it for profit within a year. That’s considered a flip. It’s a phenomenon that began in the United States and has been capturing many people’s imagination. There are plenty of television shows about it. We can start with my children who were watching the television show Méchant Changements… First it was changing up bedrooms, and then obviously it became flipping a house, and then that house, and all kinds of things of that nature.

Julien: For next to nothing. Not many resources.

Nathalie: Exactly. So you know it’s always going to be entertaining. There’s plenty of interest from people because it’s in our nature to be curious. Before and after photos of the houses— that catches our attention because it looks like an easy way to make money, but this is not the case. This is not the case, and I would like to set the context: why did this phenomenon start in the United States and why did it take on such magnitude? I’ll remind you that starting from 2007–2008–2009, there was the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States.

Julien: Yes.

Nathalie: Don’t forget that 6 million Americans lost their homes, which were then reclaimed by the banks. This is huge.

Julien: It’s almost equal to Quebec’s population.

Nathalie: Listen, this is incredible. I get shivers when I remember that. For me, this statistic is moving, important, and should not happen. In short, this gave way to a great deal of unoccupied homes which then became available for resell. Things settled down slowly and quietly, and then people who had renovation expertise started buying up properties. It was contractors—or people familiar with this type of work who had a workforce on hand—who renovated these properties and sold them for profit. And they followed all the television shows dealing with property flips and flipping. Even in Quebec, people speak of flips.

Julien: It really has become a very significant trend.

Nathalie: Yes, it’s a trend, except that the economic situation is not the same in Quebec. So, when I watch these shows…in the United States, there are clues, journalists, and people who follow these flips. There are statistics about them. For example, I recently came across an article titled

“What are the Ten Best American Cities to Make a Return on Your Investment Through a Real Estate Flip?” It requires factors such as a lower-than-average unemployment rate. It takes, for example, cities where there are students. A university with over 20,000 students for example—and I’m not talking about New York, Chicago, or any big city of that sort—but a city which is suited to large populations, where students work in the university, will land good jobs, and will buy properties. And then there’s the turnover rate…

Julien: A booming market.

Nathalie: Yes, a booming market. It also takes a certain foreclosure rate. Now this is not what we have in Quebec. There were articles that circulated last year about the rise of prior notices and repossessions. I just want to explain the difference between the two. To give an example, a prior notice occurs when you don’t pay your mortgage to the bank, and the bank notes a prior notice stating that if you are still in default after 60 days, they will own your house or go to the courts to force a sale under judiciary control. This is a prior notice. Otherwise, there is home surrender, which is when a bank takes back the property. Annually in Quebec, there are less than 9,000 prior notices, and at least 2,000 houses in surrender. There were articles going around lately that claimed a rise of prior notices and home surrenders in 2014. However, statistics are always compared to the previous year, and 2013 was an extremely low year. So do people think there are more prior notices and opportunities in Montreal’s market?

Julien: It can give that impression, but this is not entirely the case.

Nathalie: It might give this impression, but I don’t really think it will be the case. Besides, JLR Solutions publishes monthly statistics on the subject, and according to their January 2015 findings, there was a 17% decrease of prior notices. We’re actually moving more toward the opposite trend. Taking into consideration all the factors needed to carry out a flip, I’m not convinced that Montreal is a place where real estate flips will be carried out with such ease.

Julien: I think we need to step away from this formula, which, as you were saying, is often promoted through television, and falsely presents real estate flips as an equation concerned only with property costs. We invested $50,000–$60,000 dollars in renovations, and in the end, we resold the property for x amount. One and one make two; we made an incredible profit. It’s a lot more complicated than that.

Nathalie: It’s way more complicated than that, and it’s not really aimed at everyday people. You need a strong financial backing. You must be able to take on a home, which will be empty for months, while also obtaining a mortgage. Making payments, paying contractors, and also properly calculating the final sale price of the property. We know that Montreal is currently a buyers’ market, so we are not experiencing price increases. Extremely minimal increases, which means…

Julien: The margin is reduced.

Nathalie: The margin is reduced. So I tell people: be careful.

Julien: Be careful. Thank you for all the precautions that you carefully detailed for us this morning, Nathalie Clément, director of Via Capitale du Mont-Royal. Thank you for being with us.

Nathalie: It’s my pleasure.

Julien: See you soon.

Nathalie: Goodbye.

The Meaning of Real Estate Symbols and Traditions

This week on our Les Oranges Pressées radio show on CIBL, we are having fun travelling and discussing real estate traditions. One of the most known superstitions revolves around the idea that a broken mirror can bring about seven years of bad luck. Yet very few people know that the spell can be broken by burying the shattered mirror pieces under moonlight. Stories dealing with superstitions are abundant in the world of real estate, and each one has a specific meaning according to its country of origin.

Exterior Symbols

In Anglo-Saxon culture, a red door signifies that homeowners have successfully paid off their mortgage. While long ago in the United States, a red door was seen as a welcoming sign for travellers, indicating a secure location where globetrotters could rest in full tranquillity. In China, the colour red symbolizes good luck and is seen as an entry point where the chi—a fundamental concept which forms and animates life in the universe—can enter a home.

The lion statues spotted throughout Montreal and its greater area also have their traditional histories. In Vietnam, they protect and empower people. In China, they act as guardians, defending homes against accidents and theft. For Buddhists, lion statues are said to bring peace and prosperity, while in Italy, they symbolize power and prestige. In Quebec, homeowners traditionally place one or two lions in front of their house once their mortgage is paid off. Whether placed in front of a door or by a staircase, the lion remains true to itself as a symbol of honour, respect, and power, and can even be seen in popular buildings in Paris and New York.

Interior Symbols

In certain cultures, tripping while walking up a staircase is seen as a sign of good luck or a possible upcoming wedding. In contrast, stumbling while walking down the stairs or crossing paths with someone signifies bad luck. Apparently crossing your fingers is the only way to ward off this spell!

Even less known in popular culture are superstitions surrounding brooms! According to tradition, when moving into a home, one must always have a new broom and some bread on hand. When leaving an old property, it is also customary to burn all your old rags, to bring good luck to your new home. In England, placing a broom behind your front door will deter people with ill intentions from entering. In Sicily, placing a broom outdoors on the night of Saint Jean-Baptiste will bring about good luck and chase away evil spirits. At one time, people would even hang a broom in front of their main entrance to indicate the presence of a young girl to marry in the house. And finally, saving the best for last: in certain customs, placing a broom on the ground in front of your guests signifies that time has come for them to leave! Who would have thought that a broom could mean so many things?

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