A $568,000 condo deemed affordable by the Plante administration

A $568,000 condo deemed affordable by the Plante administration

UPDATE DAY

The Plante administration considers it “affordable” an 875 sq.ft condo in the Griffintown neighborhood sold for $568,896 our Bureau of Investigation discovered. 000 social and affordable housing that Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante boasts of having built since she came to power in 2017. 

The Charlotte project, in Griffintown.

The accommodation, located in the Charlotte project in Griffintown, is on this list because the family who bought it in 2021 obtained a $15,000 grant from the City of Montreal. 

A $568,000 condo deemed affordable by the Plante administration

Screenshot TVA Nouvelles Véronique Laflamme
FRAPRU

“This is yet another outrageous example of supposedly affordable housing that is not affordable for the average Montreal household, let alone renter households with an average income of less than $40,000,” plague Véronique Laflamme, spokesperson for the Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU), an organization that defends the right to housing.  

According to calculations by mortgage broker Ratehub, a household who would like to afford this property today must earn at least $112,020 per year. In 2021, you needed an income of $98,330.

Ontario Homeowners

“The [subsidy] program helps Montreal tenants access homeownership, encourages young families to stay in Montreal […] and supports families wishing to settle downtown,” defends the City spokesperson, Guillaume Rivest.

But in this case, the owners are an Ontarian couple who own two other condos in downtown Montreal and two single-family homes in Val-Morin , in the Laurentians. Their buildings have a combined value of nearly $2M. 

The mother of the family, reached by telephone, admits that her $568,000 condo is not within everyone's reach.

“It's not at all affordable. We put all our savings to buy it. It is an effort [to pay]. If we had known the mortgage rates were going to go up, we wouldn't have considered buying it,” she says.

Luxury property

Until Thursday, the condo was even posted for rent for the sum of $2,650 per month ($2,900 with parking). A practice prohibited by the City (see other text).

It is the real estate agency Engel & Völkers, specializing in “luxury” properties and “prestige” who provided the rental. 

Broker Melanie Ouaknine was very surprised to learn that the City considered this apartment to be “affordable”.  

< p>“Really?” she dropped, surprised.

A swimming pool on the roof is accessible to the owners.

The building in which the accommodation is located includes a rooftop swimming pool, an exercise room and an interior courtyard with mini-golf. 

For the subsidy, the City does not does not take into account the cost of indoor parking. She therefore considers that the dwelling was purchased at $517,157. 

But it could also have cost up to $610,000 and still be considered “affordable”. (see below).

– With Philippe Langlois

►According to data provided by the Association professionnelle des courtiers immobiliers du Québec, the median price of a new two-bedroom condo was $466,778 in 2021. 

UP TO $610,000 

The City grants grants of $5,000 to $15,000 for the purchase of new housing under certain prices*. 

  • 15 $000 for a family buying for less than $610,000 downtown 
  • $10,000 for a family buying for less than $540,000 
  • $5,000 for a couple buying for less than $380,000 
  • $5,000 for a single person buying less than $305,000 
  • Single people and couples must be first time owners. Families may have previously owned if they have a child 13 years old or younger.

*Price without parking

The 875 square foot unit has two bedrooms and an open area.

How much does such a home cost? 

  • Mortgage: $2619/month*
  • Municipal taxes: $460/month
    ($5,518 in 2023) 
  • School taxes: $63.75 /month
    ($765  in 2023) 
  • Fees of co-ownership: approximately $350/ month

Total: $3492.75/month

  • Transfer duties (welcome tax): $5838 payable upon purchase

*Calculated at a rate of 4.89% with a down payment of 20% 

More and more expensive

The Plante administration has twice raised the maximum prices of properties considered “affordable” since 2018 and eligible for a grant.

For the highest grant of the Residential Acquisition Assistance Program (PAAR), the maximum amount increased from $360,000 to $450,000 in 2018 , then to $610,000 in February 2022.

“Given the rise in the real estate market, it was becoming more and more difficult for many families to qualify for the program,” Valérie Plante justified at the time, in front of an audience of real estate developers. 

In December, our Office of Investigation revealed that of the 13,000 social and affordable housing units in the mayor's report, only 4,237 new housing units had been built.  

A $568,000 condo deemed affordable by the Plante administration

Photo archives, Pierre-Paul Poulin Valérie Plante
Mayor of Montreal

Following our report, Valérie Plante denied counting grants PAAR as well as the creation of affordable housing.

“When we know that there are [thousands of] families who have been able to count on direct subsidies to stay in Montreal, for us, it matters,” she said.

Few checks

Although AIP beneficiaries agree to occupy their home as their principal residence for three years, some do not stay there. 

< p>The City has already asked 32 households to repay their subsidy, although it has checked only a few files. 

Only 265 have been audited out of nearly 1,000 requests for grants approved since 2018. 

No file from 2021 or 2022 has yet been audited, but the City ensures that it is doing a “rigorous” follow-up.

“The City has five years to audit files,” explains spokesperson Guillaume Rivest.

Renting prohibited

Following questions from our Investigation Office on the condo at $568,000, the City will launch “as soon as possible” checks to see if homeowners are still eligible for a grant.

According to the criteria of the program, landlords are not allowed to rent. They could, however, do so if they buy another home in Montreal and move there. 

“We will contact the beneficiaries of this file in order to do the appropriate follow-up. If they no longer respect their commitment, particularly with regard to occupancy, we will proceed with the partial or complete claim for the subsidy, said Mr Rivest. 

The owner told us on Thursday that she no longer wanted to rent. 

” This is our main residence “, she insisted. p>The day after our interview, the rental advertisement was withdrawn.  

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