The bungalow that disappears

The bungalow that disappears

Not only are 24% fewer bungalows being built than before, but the price of those on the market is skyrocketing to the point that some are predicting the end of suburbia as we know it.

“It’s the decline of single-family housing. Young people will probably no longer be able to access the family home, even in the suburbs,” said Paul Cardinal, director of the economic department of the Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec (APCHQ).

Paul Cardinal.  Director of the APCHQ

file photo

Paul Cardinal. Director of the APCHQ

“When we talk about the decline of single-family housing, it is in terms of new construction. We will build less and less,” he adds.

In April, the foundations of 719 individual houses were laid, it is a fall of 24% that was felt in September and that has lasted for eight months.

“However, for prices on the resale market, it will be the opposite. The growing shortage of single-family homes will continue to push prices up apace,” said APCHQ’s Paul Cardinal.

Listen to the economic chronicle of Michel Girard radio:

“All the big cities now want to curb single-family housing in favor of collective housing,” he observes.

For Charles Brant, director of the Market Analysis Service of the Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers of Quebec (APCIQ), the phenomenon has increased with the pandemic.

Overnight, Quebecers wanted a break and vendors who already had the upper hand found increasingly tempting offers on the table.

“There are many buyers for few sellers in this niche, especially in the suburbs,” analyzes Charles Brant.

“The price difference between a single-family home in Montreal and in the suburbs is narrowing. The price increases are phenomenal. In the North Shore, we saw an increase of 21% compared to last year, while in Montreal it was only 6%”, she illustrates.

Due to lack of land and restrictive zoning, entrepreneurs are forced to build residences in ever smaller spaces, observes Guillaume Labrie, president of Construction Labrie.

“When they can, they match up even in extremely small batches. Cities accept almost anything to have as many taxes as possible, ”she stresses.

“Sometimes we see houses that are built less than a meter apart. It doesn’t make sense,” she concludes.

In the first quarter of the year, the median price of a single-family home rose 22% to $415,444 in Quebec, according to APCIQ.

Listen to Patrick Déry’s interview with Paul Cardinal on QUB Radio:

Dany Fillion, 44, sold her single-family home in Saint-Basile-le-Grand after falling in love with another larger residence in the same city.

Photo Francis Halin

Dany Fillion, 44, sold her single-family home in Saint-Basile-le-Grand after falling in love with another larger residence in the same city.

A Saint-Basile-le-Grand resident who had just sold the home in which he raised his three children was willing to lower the asking price by $15,000 to give a young family a chance to buy it.

“It broke my heart to see pregnant women or young families, a little desperate because they would like to settle in the suburbs. We were ready to commit to the sale price,” says 44-year-old Dany Fillion.

“We paid him a little over $200,000. We just sold it for almost 600,000 dollars ten years later”, emphasizes the man, who comes out of the whirlwind of visits.

Two weeks ago, the patent analyst for the county of La Vallée-du-Richelieu sold his house to buy a more spacious one.

“Every year we renovate the house. We always had a renovation project”, explains the professional who has patiently built his heritage.

Plunged headfirst into the crazy real estate market, Dany Fillion says some agents she met along the way had questionable ethics.

“I tend to say that sometimes honesty is not a uniformly generalized value among agents,” he says.

Fortunately for him and his wife, it was ultimately a young couple with a child who bought their memorabilia-filled residence.

“We sell expensive, but we buy expensive. I would tell young buyers to look for something that may be less up-to-date and quietly update it,” explains Dany Fillion.

“The advantage with the younger generation is that there are a lot of YouTube videos. You can easily acquire a certain knowledge, which was not the case in the 1990s”, he concludes.

Fewer single-family homes built in most major Quebec cities

Quebec bungalows from the last century are razed in favor of multi-residential housing housing more families than ever before on these huge lots sold at exorbitant prices.

Bungalows like this one on Montreal's south shore are being demolished to make way for resorts.  They occupy much less space on the floor, which means that their construction densifies the sector.

Photo Francis Halin

Bungalows like this one on Montreal’s south shore are being demolished to make way for resorts. They occupy much less space on the floor, which means that their construction densifies the sector.

“That is the trend. We replaced the houses with 10,000 square feet of land to maximize them because the infrastructure is there and we are close to services,” explains David Brassard, president of the BBC Group, which is based in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, in Montérégie.

“It is in the common interest to densify these small urban centers and attract a larger clientele for local businesses,” he says.

A TrunkThe boss of the SME of about forty employees, whose turnover exceeds 20 million dollars, is categorical: there are fewer and fewer projects that sell the dream of the famous bungalow.

“Sometimes it’s more complex to build when it’s denser. The isolated single-family home was still the easiest to build, but we adapted to the demand”, continues the builder.

According to David Brassard, the agricultural dezoning in the Montreal metropolitan area and the imposed densification targets have an impact on the type of construction chosen, but there is a lot of resistance to change.

In recent months, the scarcity of land has caused prices to skyrocket. Residential areas have become denser with townhouses, townhouses, semi-detached houses and complexes instead of bungalows.

“Often there is a ‘not in my backyard’ phenomenon. Density, yes, but not with us”. We deal with that often,” said Mr. Brassard.

“It goes in the direction of sustainable development, although it is not always perceived as such,” he adds.

According to David Brassard, the so-called TOD areas, or real estate development around a public transport station, are highly valued, but often meet with opposition from citizens.

“Municipal councils are very cautious, very populist. They are very attentive to the dissatisfied citizen”, he maintains.

As a result, single-family neighborhoods are moving out of the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC) and eroding the once-rejected landscape.

Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Granby, Marieville… cities are developing at breakneck speed, driven by the arrival of telecommuters, who burst into these communities, often the furthest from large urban centers.

“It resurfaces in other places,” he concludes.

More than 634 new homes were built in smaller urban centers last month, up 8%, according to the Quebec Association of Construction and Housing Professionals.

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