Real estate sales are the hottest they have been in 50 years in the Town of Brome Lake. “Houses are selling within two days of listing when in the past, they would be on the market for six months or more,” said one local agent.

There are multiple offers on the same house, something seen in big cities, but never before in this area. One older house in West Brome sold in a couple of days, and the owner received more than the asking price.

This is propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many buyers want to leave Montreal and move to a community within easy driving distance — when they have to go to the city — and where there is high-speed internet. If you have to work from home, it might as well be here. In addition, people are restricted from going to many vacation spots. The US border remains closed. People who winter in Florida may not be able to go back, and some residents told us they are not going back to Florida next season, even if they are allowed to.

It is a phenomenon seen across the rich world. Rural properties outside Toronto, London and New York are seeing an increase in demand and prices. Not only are there more sales, but prices are also rising here, as shown by the amount of taxes the Town of Brome Lake is collecting. Here are the numbers from the town:

• 2019: 1st January to 31st July: 144 transactions for $747,939 in transfer tax (welcome tax).

• 2020: 1st January to 31st July: 190 transactions for $1,266,624 in transfer tax (welcome tax).

The increase in the amount of transfer tax, which is a percentage of the sale price, tells you prices are rising, something confirmed by several local real estate agents.

“2020 should be the best year (for real estate sales) in the history of Town of Brome Lake,” says Caroline Cusson, Director of Finances at the town. Last year the town collected $1.4 million in transfer taxes. It will almost certainly exceed that total when statistics are in for August. “So far, we are looking at a 32% increase in transactions and a 69% increase money-wise.”

One agent commented: “We’re pretty much sold out of condos, and occasional listings sell quickly. Same story for lakefront property, except for some quite expensive ones.”


Some comparative figures for 2019 & 2020

Source: Centris

In 2019, from March 15 to August 12, there were 58 sales of single family homes in Brome Lake.

The average price was $397,504 and the average number of days on the market was 261. In the same period in 2020, there were 83 sales with an average price of $671,156 and an average of 152 days on the market.

• In the price bracket 0 – $500,000 there were 44 sales in that period in 2019. In 2020 there were 40 sales. The average price went from $270,562 in 2019 to $296,122 in 2020 and the days on the market dropped from 204 to 168.

• From $500,000 to $1 million: 12 sales in 2019 and 28 sales in 2020. Average price rose from $683,792 to $715,927 in 2020, and days on the market dropped from 497 to 139.

• One million and up: 2 sales in 2019 and 14 sales in 2020. Average of two in 2019 was $1,472,500. Average price in 2020 of sales in the past 5 months in this price bracket is $1,653,143. Number of days on the market increased from 83 to 133. That could be because a number of the 2020 sales were of properties that had been on the market for a lengthy period of time.