Two thousand and eighteen has been a big year for real estate in the greater Brome Lake area.

After a long period of stagnation, local agents are buoyed by sales in both the residential and commercial markets. Lois Hardacker and Jessica Brown are representative of the success achieved by our entire real estate corps.

“It really started in the fall of 2017,” said the veteran Hardacker, with Royal Lepage. “It’s a function of an improving Quebec economy. When the market heats up, it affects other people’s enthusiasm. And when interest rates rise, it encourages buyers to act now, before they rise any higher.” Brown, a relatively recent player in the local market with Coldbrook realtors, agrees the turnaround began last year, but says 2018 “has been really, really busy. It’s amazing for Knowlton, with ripples as far away as Sutton.”

Though she has had a hand in 39 sales for 2018, and 12 in the last two months alone, Brown will only say she is “cautiously optimistic” about the immediate future. “Properties in the higher end have been moving, but the lower end is not selling. I really wonder what the average person can afford to buy.”

Hardacker credits part of the uptick to the oft-maligned baby boomer generation. “A lot of people left Quebec in the 1970s in search of jobs and political stability. They are thinking of returning now, love Brome Lake and the fact that it’s a bilingual community.”

With her own sale of two lakefront properties at $7.4 million, and $2.375 million, Hardacker should expect no lumps of coal in her Christmas stocking this season.

What’s encouraging about the market, she feels, is its versatility. Properties that had For Sale signs starting to rust have sold. Empty commercial buildings like Quais de l’Estrie on Route 243 in Foster have changed hands, in this case to Tara Moar and Matthew Greer, who will be installing their Virgin Hill Coffee Roasters onsite.

The former Bishop’s University satellite campus has sold, and been ingeniously transformed into a private home and gallery.

Even the ghostly Chinese restaurant on Knowlton Rd. at Victoria, thought beyond the sales pale, has found a buyer. Glass artist Annie Schank will set up a working studio and possible retail space in the long-shuttered eyesore.

The B&B beside Lakeview House has sold, and will remain a B&B. So has the historic red brick home across the road, beside what was Barnes Home Hardware, before it moved to the heart of town.

England Hill, the landmark old general store on Lakeside, has been reincarnated as a mixed-used building with flats and a pop-up art gallery. And the compound anchored by the long-gone LL Brome and now home to offices has also sold. Its future is to be determined.

What hasn’t sold, and this runs contrary to trends and village rumour, is the Auberge Knowlton. But interest in the venerable town centre establishment is believed to be keen.
Jack Walker, owner of England Hill, thinks he has a simple explanation for the current boom in Knowlton and beyond. “It’s just a great place to live.”