Today we’re buzzing with two sales and marketing whizzes from Montreal, Patrice Groleau and Debby Doktorczyk of McGill Immoblier.
The real estate agency specializes in sales and project marketing and work with some of the hottest developers building in Montreal today including St-Dominique in the Plateau, M9 in Old Montreal and District Griffin in Griffintown.
Debby and Patrice say there is a condo boom happening in Montreal right now but there are a few notable differences between their market and markets in Toronto and Vancouver. Find out what makes Montreal so unique below.
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you get into the real estate industry?
Debby Doktorczyk: I have a background in interior design. We started as very small scale developers — buying properties like duplexes and transforming them and putting them back on the market. The more we did that, the more interested we got in the business of real estate. One thing led to another and we started selling projects. We found we were very good at it. At one point we had to go on vacation, so we hired someone to work while we were away and then one person became two and so on. One project became two projects, then three and four simultaneously. We grew very fast.
BBH: How many projects are you working on right now?
Patrice Groleau: Around 20 at the moment. We typically average 20 at the same time.
BBH: What kinds of services to you provide for developers?
DD: You can pick and choose what you need, but we basically do marketing for our clients. We help them build their unit mix and create the price list. We meet with the architects to make sure the plans are the most efficient
possible. We have a sales team and are very selective in our hiring, which is one of our main strengths. We deal with developers on a daily basis and are hired by developers. We sell the quality of our team to developers.
Montreal is very competitive. It’s not a market where you open the doors and have investors rushing in. So we have to try for every sale we’re making. The broker you have really makes a difference.
BBH: What attracted you to real estate as a career?
DD: The career chose us. It was a passion from day one and it’s still a passion. We could not be working the hours we’re working if it weren’t.
BBH: What are some notable differences between the Montreal real estate market as it was in 2010 and the market as it is now, going into 2013?
DD: The condo market is very new. It’s only really existed for 12 or 15 years now. When we first started in the business 10 years ago, condo purchasers were very specific. It was the young professionals who wanted to live downtown. It was very limited. Now everybody is buying condos — empty nesters, parents for their children who are going to university, investors. The market has evolved considerably over the last 10 years. Three or four years ago, the market was okay. It was strong but there was not much competition. But then the idea came out that condos were here and they’re here to stay.
PG: The market has never been as strong as it has been today, but we also have more projects than ever. There are a lot of people in Montreal who are getting into the condo business. They see there’s money to be made, but they’re surprised at how difficult the development business is.
The banks are really strict about financing. There is no way to go around them and they’re analyzing every sale. So Montreal is slowly but surely rising, but we’re going to end up better for it.
BBH: So you don’t see a Toronto-style condo boom happening in Montreal?
PG: Yes, there is a condo boom but not at the same scale and it’s not a boom driven by speculation. The financial structure of the projects and the sales structure is safer in Montreal I think. We do not see real estate developers build at their own expense before selling very safe and high percentages or many condos sacrifice with major discounts just to reach their sales percentage to get the construction financing from the bank.
The market is really competitive in Montreal. But a developer who partner with McGill real estate is in a better position to turn his project into success. Unfortunately for some we are selective, we can not accept all the projects proposal that we receive.
BBH: What are some Montreal projects that you’re really excited about?
PG: We have a lot of projects in the new District Griffin. For developers, it’s dream land beside the water and close to downtown and the universities. We’re selling more than 50 per cent of this area and it’s really booming. It’s the trendiest area in Montreal right now.
Until the 1980s you weren’t allowed to build residential developments in the area because it was all industrial. Now we’re planning a complete new district space. It’s going to be perfect.
BBH: With so much happening in Montreal real estate right now, are there any concerns of the city’s historic architecture and atmosphere being endangered by development?
DD: We’re not worried about it all. The city is very difficult *laughs*. If you build in Old Montreal, you have to use old stones and designs to ensure that it looks like the building next door even though it’s a new development. There are some newer areas where it’s less difficult, but everything that’s more or less historic or on a well known street, developers are required to keep the spirit of the area.
BBH: When do you expect to see prices in Montreal rise significantly? Could there be a spike?
PG: We don’t expect a spike.
DD: It will be gradual, as it has been. They will continue rising, slowly but surely.
Thanks for buzzing with us Patrice and Debby!