The missing bungalow

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

“It’s the demise of the family home. Young people will likely no longer have access to the family home, even in the suburbs,” said Paul Cardinal, director of the economics division of the Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec (APCHQ).

Cardinal Paul.  Director of APCHQ

Archive photo

Cardinal Paul. Director of APCHQ

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

In April, foundations were laid for 719 individual homes, a 24% drop that was felt in September and lasted for eight months.

“However, prices in the resale market will be the opposite. The increasing shortage of single-family homes will continue to drive prices up at a good pace,” said APCHQ’s Paul Cardinal.

Listen to Michel Girard Radio’s economic chronicle:

“All big cities now want to put the brakes on single-family houses in favor of communal apartments,” he observes.

For Charles Brant, director of the market analysis service at the Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers of Quebec (APCIQ), the phenomenon has increased with the pandemic.

From one day to the next, Quebecers wanted some breathing room, and vendors who already had the big end of the line found themselves with increasingly enticing offers on the table.

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

“The price difference between a single-family house in Montreal and in the suburbs is getting smaller. The price increases are phenomenal. On the north coast, we saw a 21% increase year-over-year, while in Montreal it was only 6%,” he explains.

The lack of land and restrictive zoning are forcing contractors to build homes in ever smaller spaces, observes Guillaume Labrie, President of Construction Labrie.

“When they can, they mate even in extremely small plots. The cities accept almost everything in order to have as many taxes as possible,” he emphasizes.

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

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

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

Dany Fillion, 44, sold his family home in Saint-Basile-le-Grand after falling in love with another larger apartment in the same town.

Photo Francis Halin

Dany Fillion, 44, sold his family home in Saint-Basile-le-Grand after falling in love with another larger apartment in the same town.

A Saint-Basile-le-Grand resident who just sold the home where he raised his three children agreed to drop the sale price by $15,000 to give a young family a chance to buy it .

“It broke my heart to see pregnant ladies or young families who were a bit desperate because they wanted to settle in the suburbs. We were willing to compromise on the selling price,” says Dany Fillion, 44.

“We paid her a little over $200,000. Ten years later, we just sold it for almost $600,000,” stresses the man who breaks out of the whirlpool of visits.

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

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

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

“I’d rather say that sometimes honesty isn’t a universally accepted value among agents,” he says.

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

“We sell expensive, but we buy expensive. I would advise young buyers to find something that might be less contemporary and take it easy to refurbish it,” explains Dany Fillion.

“The advantage with the younger generation is that there are a lot of YouTube videos. It’s easy to acquire a certain level of know-how, which wasn’t the case in the 1990s,” he concludes.

Fewer single-family homes are being built in most of Quebec’s larger cities

Quebec bungalows from the last century are being demolished in favor of apartment buildings that house more families than before on these large lots being sold at exorbitant prices.

Bungalows like this one on Montreal's South Shore are being demolished to make way for plexes.  They take up much less floor space, which means their construction condenses the sector.

Photo Francis Halin

Bungalows like this one on Montreal’s South Shore are being demolished to make way for plexes. They take up much less floor space, which means their construction condenses the sector.

“That’s the trend. We’re replacing the houses with 10,000 sq ft of land to maximize it because the infrastructure is there and we’re close to services,” explains David Brassard, President of the BBC Group, which is headquartered in Mont-Saint-Hilaire in Montérégie .

“It’s in the common interest to densify these small urban centers and attract more customers to local businesses,” he says.

at protocolthe boss of the SME with around forty employees and a turnover of over 20 million dollars, is categorical: There are fewer and fewer projects that sell the dream of the famous bungalow.

“It’s sometimes more complex to build when it’s denser. The detached single-family house was the easiest to build, but we are adapting to demand,” the contractor continues.

According to David Brassard, greater Montreal agricultural dezoning and imposed densification targets are having an impact on the design choices, but there is much resistance to change.

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

“There’s often the ‘not in my backyard’ phenomenon. Dense yes, but not with us”. We face that a lot,” said Mr. Brassard.

“It’s moving towards sustainable development, even if it’s not always perceived that way,” he adds.

According to David Brassard, so-called TOD areas, or real estate developments surrounding a public transit station, are highly valued but often meet resistance from citizens.

“Local councils are very reserved, very populist. They care a lot about the dissatisfied citizen,” he emphasizes.

As a result, single-family neighborhoods are pulling out of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal (CMM), eroding the once-shunned landscape.

Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Granby, Marieville… Cities are developing at breakneck speed, fueled by the arrival of telecommuters who have stormed into these communities, often located furthest from major urban centers.

“He shows up somewhere else,” he concludes.

According to the Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec, more than 634 new homes were built in smaller urban centers last month, an 8% increase.

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