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A Jewel within the Woods of Quebec for $1.6 Million: House Hunting in Canada


Set on 106 wooded acres in Val-des-Lacs, a village within the Laurentians mountain range of southern Quebec, Canada, this five-bedroom, three-bathroom home enjoys panoramic views of the mountains, the adjoining Archambault River and the property’s abundant maple trees.

The house, inbuilt 2004, “offers a landscape you wouldn’t get anywhere else in Quebec,” said Félix Giguère, partner and broker at Barnes International Realty Quebec in Montreal, and the listing agent. The estate also includes a large artificial pond with a diving dock. “With the pond on one side and the river on the opposite, you see water from every room of the home.”

The vendor, a Montreal-based constructing contractor, wanted the home “to reflect the immensity of the property,” Mr. Giguère said. Materials including cast-iron, cherry wood and stone were used “to capture the texture of the Laurentians.”

A rustic road results in the house’s wrought-iron gates, which open to an unpaved road resulting in a wood bridge and a big garage structure.

Farther up the drive, the house’s front door opens to a terrific room whose ceilings soar as high as 20 feet. Long, symmetrical windows are “the foremost element of the home,” Mr. Giguère said. “Every room receives light all day long.”

The sculpted image of a pine tree embellishes a tall stone fireplace, and a door near the fireside opens to the first bedroom suite. A steel walkway floats overhead, stretching from the highest of a staircase to a windowed seating area.

Solid-iron hardware complements gleaming cherry cabinets within the kitchen, where the sellers also commissioned local artisans to construct an antique-style gas stove “in the tactic they used to construct old Canadian ovens,” Mr. Giguère said. A four-season sunroom off the kitchen includes a peaked ceiling.

Two more bedrooms and a toilet are on the upper floor. The lower level has a family room, guest bedroom, office, laundry room and access to an attached one-car garage.

The estate’s acreage includes landscaped trails for climbing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, Mr. Giguère said. To tap their maple trees, the owners also built a “sugar shack” where they bottled their very own maple syrup.

The tiny village of Val-des Lacs sits 18 miles northeast of the favored Mont Tremblant resort, with its shopping, services and small airport. Montreal is 75 miles southeast, and the Champlain, N.Y., border crossing into america is one other 40 miles from there.

The Laurentians region of Quebec (referred to as Laurentides to French speakers) is home to the Laurentian mountain range and is popular with second-home buyers. Like other such areas all over the world, it has been “on fire” because the onset of the pandemic, said Steven Lafave, managing director of Engel & Völkers Tremblant in Mont Tremblant.

Currently, nonetheless, rising rates of interest and other market-cooling measures have tamed activity “back to something more normal,” he said. Still, “the blurring of primary and secondary homes continues to fuel demand.” Single-family homes in desirable areas “near lakes and resorts” start around $1 million, he said, “but in case you distance yourself a bit, you get twice the house for half the value.”

The local housing market is “disjointed,” said Liza Kaufman, founding father of The Kaufman Group/Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec in Montreal, who focuses on luxury homes. “We’re seeing a big slowdown on the lower end, but there are quite a bit more buyers with quite a bit additional cash within the upper echelons. They should not affected by rates of interest.” Ms. Kaufman said luxury homes within the Laurentians can sell from $2.5 million “to almost $40 million for an estate.”

Properties are also “staying in the marketplace longer,” said Christina Miller, founding father of Christina Miller Real Estate Group in Montreal. “It’s still a good marketplace for sellers, but without the bidding wars and multiple offers we saw through the pandemic.” With continuing demand for short-term accommodations, “investors are continually calling about properties up north,” she said.

Based on data on the Laurentians region from the Quebec Skilled Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB), the median sale price for a single-family home in August 2022 was $320,647 (440,000 Canadian dollars), an 11 percent increase from August 2021, and 20 percent below the median price for all of Quebec.

The median condominium price of $249,075 (342,500 Canadian dollars) in the course of the same period represented a 12 percent year-over-year jump — though it was a slower pace of growth than in the course of the previous 12 months, when some Laurentians towns logged median price increases of as much as 32 percent as pandemic moves fueled the market.

“The market is holding up quite well, despite the fact that sales are declining from last 12 months,” said Charles Brant, director of market evaluation for QPAREB. “And the slowdown is more moderate than other regions,” especially Montreal, where an October QPAREB report cited a “sharp decline in sales” and easing of costs.

The Laurentians still offers relative value when put next with second-home markets in other provinces. In Muskoka, the favored “cottage country” town northeast of Toronto, benchmark home prices reached $566,422 (725,400 Canadian dollars) in August, in accordance with the Canadian Real Estate Association. In Banff, the upscale resort area northwest of Calgary, the median home price was $662,183 (912,475 Canadian dollars), in accordance with data site Zolo.

Local buyers proceed to propel the market within the Laurentians, which stays “the number-one destination for upscale, wealthy Montrealers with secondary residences,” Mr. Giguère said.

Montrealers even have been primary investors in Airbnbs, profiting from a torrid short-term-rental market, Ms. Miller said, noting that some buyers have cashed out of Montreal’s overheated market to take a position in country properties.

Buyers from Ontario, which abuts Quebec to the west and south, have also powered the market. “Prices in Ontario are much higher, and Quebec’s not that far-off,” said Mr. Brant of QPAREB. For the primary time on record, more Ontarians moved to Quebec than the reverse in 2022, in accordance with Statistics Canada, with lower housing costs cited as a primary driver.

Americans from the northeast and Florida predominate amongst non-Canadian buyers, who make up “15 to 25 percent of our sales within the Laurentians,” Mr. Lafave said. “They’re profiting from a robust U.S. dollar, they usually love the joie de vivre of Quebec culture.”

Mr. Giguère said that French, British, Chinese, and Middle Eastern buyers have also bought within the region.

Most international buyers prefer condominiums around Mont Tremblant, Ms. Kaufman said, especially because the 2017 purchase of the Mont-Tremblant resort by the parent company of Aspen’s Snowmass property. “They try Tremblant because they know Aspen,” she said.

In the meanwhile, the one restriction on foreign buyers in Quebec involves properties zoned for agriculture, in accordance with Richard Burgos, a partner on the Lavery law firm in Montreal.

Starting in 2023, nonetheless, the door will slam shut on most foreign buyers across Canada, the results of a wide-ranging federal budget package, passed in June, that may prohibit noncitizens from purchasing “houses, condos, townhouses and duplexes,” said Julie Côté, senior manager of the true estate taxation practice for nonresidents on the accounting firm FL Fuller Landau, in Montreal.

The 2-year ban is meant to chill markets amid a persistent housing shortage. Foreigners “might be allowed to purchase some multiunit properties, and possibly vacation properties situated outside urban areas, but that’s not official yet,” Ms. Côté said.

A latest anti-flipping tax will even take effect in January, intended “to forestall people from using the housing market as an investment scheme,” Ms. Côté said. Reasonably than a 50 percent tax on capital gains from a sale, she said, any buyer who sells inside 12 months of shopping for will face taxes on 100% of net profits.

This 12 months, the federal government also instituted a 1 percent so-called “underused tax” on foreigners whose residential property in Canada isn’t occupied or rented for no less than six months out of the 12 months.

Notaries handle closings in Quebec after agents for each parties finalize an accepted offer. Expanded Quebec language laws enacted in September require transfer documents and mortgage deeds to be in French, Mr. Burgos said. Documents related to offers are still available in English.

French, English; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar = $0.73)

Buyers in Quebec pay a progressive land transfer tax between 0.5 and a pair of percent of the acquisition price, Ms. Côté said, adding that notary fees generally range from $880 to $1,100 (1,200 to 1,500 Canadian dollars).

Broker commissions in Quebec range from 4 to five percent, Mr. Giguère said. Annual property taxes on this home total about $4,800 (6,528 Canadian dollars).

Félix Giguère, Barnes International Realty Quebec, 514-294-1141, barnes-quebec.com/en/

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