Resicom – Holiday Investment – 04-21 – LB

Laurentians still a buyer’s market

Just an hour’s drive from Montreal, the Laurentians are among Canada’s hidden gems and are home to a growing real estate market. Attractive towns and villages nestle amid stunning mountain scenery, clear lakes and winding rivers, making this the perfect location for a second home or a holiday break when you feel the need to get away from it all. It is also possible to live in this unspoilt paradise all year round and to commute into the city for business.

Alpine feel

The Laurentians are sometimes referred to as Canada’s Alps, with the ski resort of Mont Tremblant one of the country’s most popular winter sports destinations. Off the beaten track, smaller resort villages boast independent designer clothes shops, excellent dining, and sightseeing opportunities.

High summer and the Christmas holidays are the busiest seasons, and almost everywhere can be accessed via Highway 15 or – for those who like to take the scenic route – the parallel Route 117.

Luxury properties

On the real estate front there are currently 243 luxury properties listed at over CAD$1m (£520,000), including 129 waterfront homes. The Laurentians are still a buyer’s market, however, with waterfront property available for as little as $450,000 (£235,000). Prices are steadily rising though and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada has 65 properties listed at more than $2m (£1.04m) and 32 at over $3m (£1.56m). The highest listed property is $14.5m (£7.56m), though the highest actual sale in 2014 was $3.45m (£1.8m).

Following the global economic crisis, prices dropped by up to 20%; although they have since rebounded, they are still approximately 10% below pre-2008 standards. ‘The activity is getting stronger but there is still a lot of inventory,’ said Melanie Clarke, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. ‘Buyers take their time when they are looking. They have a lot of choices, and the negotiation is usually in their favour.’

Lac Tremblant

The highest prices are to be found on the shores of Lac Tremblant, where prices have continued to rise sharply over the last 10-15 years. This luxury market does not seem to have been substantially affected by the global economic downturn, though condominium prices have dropped somewhat. Although mortgages of up to 75% are available, most luxury buyers pay cash for rustic-style lakeside properties. New construction is also seeing an increasing demand for more contemporary housing alongside these old world villas.

Overseas buyers

Since 2008 most properties purchased in the Laurentians have been second homes owned by native Canadians, mostly resident in Montreal. Interest from the UK and US is increasing, however, with France and Saudi Arabia coming up behind.

Although buying property is straightforward, non-residents must apply for Canadian residency if they intend to live there for more than half the year; they may also need special permission from the Quebec government to purchase farmland. A one-time land transfer tax is applicable on a three-tier scale: 0.5% on the first $50,000 (£26,000), 1% on the next $200,000 (£104,000) and 1.5% over $250,000 (£130,000). This is based on the purchase price or municipal assessment, whichever is higher.

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