Recently, I took a trip to Montreal. Sorry—Montréal. And, let me tell you: it was cold. I mean it. Very, very cold. The kind of cold that numbs any part of your body that is covered by just one relatively thick layer of fabric, rather than two to three relatively thick layers of fabric.
However: It was beautiful. The streets were tree-lined and well kept and there were small businesses that were a mix of historical and cutting-edge and the people walking the sidewalks were friendly, as a rule, and greeted everyone in French, as rule.
Then I turned onto a street called Waverly in the middle of Mile End, a Brooklyn-like neighborhood in as much as it draws a lot of young and creative people to its commercial and residential properties. But Waverly was particularly gorgeous: it was covered in fresh snow, lined with old handsome trees, its buildings were dignified and sturdy and had the unmistakable look of being, you know, very settled into themselves, while still giving off an air of being well-built, well-kept, and cared for. That particular day was also sunny, and wind-free. The birds chirped. It was a veritable winter paradise (minus my freezing toes).
The guide, who toured me and my friend through the neighborhood, said, “a decade ago, you could buy any one of these buildings for nothing—but now they’re going for at least $500,000 (Canadian) dollars,” which means that these homes are going for something in the sub-400K American dollar range.
Now, I know she said this to shock our real estate market senses, and illustrate how rapidly things had changed in that neighborhood over a relatively short period of time—as indeed they had. But what she had not accounted for properly was that I (and my friend) were visiting from Brooklyn. And that in my job, I read reports about how expensive it is for people who live in Brooklyn to buy homes in Brooklyn neighborhoods that are as desirable as Mile End, and on streets similar to Waverly. For that reason I was painfully aware that, compared to a parallel Brooklyn neighborhood—maybe Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, or Bushwick—these homes on Waverly Street were a full-on steal.
And indeed, yesterday, the latest report released by Ideal Properties Group for 4th Quarter home sales in North and Brownstone (AKA most expensive and most sought-after) Brooklyn illustrate how true that is. Average residential sales prices increased to $1,497,460—nearly $1.5 million. The findings, in the Brownstone Brooklyn and Beyond market report, released by Ideal, looked at neighborhoods such as Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Williamsburg, and more, and revealed an increase of 2.6 percent over the 4th quarter in 2015. The median sales price was $1.142 million.
Would you like those numbers broken down in a more depressing way? You got it. The average price per square foot was $1,077—a 7.2 percent increase compared to 2015. The median price per square foot was $1,096 (compared to $987 the year before), an 11 percent increase. Yes, for more than one thousand bucks, you can purchase one measly square foot of property in North and Brownstone Brooklyn.
According to Aleksandra Scepanovic, Managing Director of Ideal, “The average residential sales prices in Brownstone and North Brooklyn continue their upward momentum, and are approaching another milestone as they near the $1.5 million mark… As the real estate markets anticipate the change at the helm of the nation, we expect that in 2017, we will see increased interest, new development, and higher prices.”
Also in her statement were the words, “The new year will bring new opportunities for those looking to buy a new home in Brooklyn.”
True! Which of course means that the rest of us have “new opportunities” of our own. Like moving, perhaps, to Montreal. At these Brooklyn prices, you could by two entire homes on that gorgeous street in Mile End, AKA the North Brooklyn of Montreal. As a reminder, to do this, you can use this dating app which helps disgruntled Americans hook up with sympathetic Canadians so that they may marry them and make French speaking Canadian babies, and homesteads, if they wish it.
Just a thought. Because, of course, it’s equally if not more important to stay here and fight the good (political, if not real estate) fight. It’s just that you might want to save your money and do that from another American city. If, however, Montreal still happens to be your destination of choice, you can live almost as if you’re still living here, with very similar amenities, and social attractions, and infrastructure, only you’ll spend a lot less money to have all of it, and get to hear Justin Trudeau as your Prime Minister on public radio every morning. A little frost bite on your toes—and a lousy half mil—sounds like a small price to pay for all of that.