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Condos are Luring the Ultra-Rich to Downtown Montreal

Cranes and orange cones dominate downtown Montreal. The city is in the midst of remaking itself — tearing up pothole-filled roads and replacing crumbling concrete overpasses, adding segments to the REM lines that will snake through the suburbs, building bridges and adding to the growing forest of condo towers.

Condos used to be considered a runner-up option for buyers who couldn’t afford a house, but times have changed. A new breed of buildings is luring ultra-wealthy buyers to trade in their multimillion-dollar mansions for a new kind of lifestyle — which, in some cases, costs even more than owning a comparable detached home.

According to Don Kottick, CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, luxury condos are growing in appeal for many buyers shopping for top-tier real estate.

“Montreal is very vibrant. A couple of years ago, condos weren’t that attractive, and now they’ve become a critical piece of the buying equation,” Kottick said. “There’s been a lot of learning that has happened. The whole lifestyle of a condo has changed.”

Pretty much every condo megaproject now boasts one or more roomy penthouses with a swanky rooftop patio and the option for a private pool. Yet when it comes to true luxury, realtor Liza Kaufman said, many of the most discerning buyers prefer smaller, more exclusive projects.

Unlike most condo towers, which are topped by one or more spacious penthouses but have smaller, less expensive units stacked on the bottom, ultra-luxe condos like those found in the Four Seasons, the Ritz and other tony buildings have no entry-level option. That’s a major part of the appeal, Kaufman said.

“People like exclusivity and they don’t want too much action and activity. They want peace and quiet where they live,” she said. “The carrying cost for properties like that are much higher, but these are people who can afford it. If you can afford it, you want to buy it. You want something rare and exclusive.”

The new breed of luxury condos offers a sleek, clutter-free look that Kaufman said appeals to many sellers ready to downsize from their more traditional wood-and-stone mansions.

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