PQ threat chills property values
Sep 1, 2012 / 12:00 pm
Some observers of the Montreal real estate market say potential home buyers are holding off until they know who wins the Sept. 4 provincial election.
The market traditionally slows in summer and new regulations concerning mortgages have been imposed but some brokers say buyers are also taking a wait-and-see attitude to protect their investment or maybe get a better price after Sept. 4.
It's the type of news that would rankle the Parti Quebecois, which has had warnings of a flight of economic capital and an exodus of anglophones used against it since the 1970s.
Monique Assouline, a real-estate broker who works in Montreal's west end, says she's had both anglophone and francophone clients tell her they're not buying anything until after the election is decided.
"Their main fear is that the PQ government will win and that the separation issue will come back up and that the prices are going to fall down," she said.
Assouline said buyers fear property values will plummet amid an exodus of residents from the mainly English-speaking areas such as after the 1976 election, the first time the PQ took power.
"They're afraid to buy in this area right now."
Her listings range from $200,000 condos to $600,000 houses and Assouline said while she has shown a lot of properties, the offers are being made on real estate in other parts of Montreal.
PQ Leader Pauline Marois has brushed off suggestions of a sovereignty-induced market slowdown as a throwback to the early days of the PQ, when the threat of a flight of capital rose like a wrathful spectre to thwart the party.
In what's known in Quebec as "le coup de la Brinks," which translates as "the Brinks coup," media were alerted in April 1970 to a convoy of nine Brinks armoured trucks rushing billions in Royal Trust securities from Montreal to Ontario.
The move came amid growing support for the sovereigntist PQ and is considered one of the reasons Rene Levesque lost so badly to Robert Bourassa in an election called days after photos of the trucks on the highway were published.
So what do the numbers actually say about housing values?
History does record an exodus of corporate head offices and anglophones after the 1976 election of the first Parti Quebecois government, which was accompanied by fevered speculation of how far the new government would go.
A famous editorial cartoon in the Montreal Gazette after the election showed Rene Levesque advising people to take a Valium tranquilizer.
There are limits, however, to the influence of referendum fears.
The value of Quebec homes slid back to 71 per cent of the national average last year, following an era of skyrocketing prices characterized by an oil boom on the Prairies and a real-estate crunch in Vancouver.
Paul Cardinal, the manager of market analysis at the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, said he has not heard any anecdotal evidence of any hesitation in the current market.
The board, which releases monthly statistics on the state of the market, did not have preliminary figures for August but Cardinal said the trend for sales had been strong since the start of the year.
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