A Primer on Montreal Real Estate Speak

Real Estate Sales Representative with Immeubles Deakin Realty

If you’re from out of town, you may need a primer on “Montreal Real Estate Speak.”  Ask any Canadian – we do things a bit differently here in Montreal.  French has infiltrated English, and English has infiltrated French, and most of us love it.


Here are a few common expressions and translations to help you along the way:


1. “There’s a dep right around the corner.”


Wasn’t that a brand of hair gel back in the 80s? We’re not referring to hair here: dep = dépanneur = convenience store


2. “You can walk to the metro.”


Good for commuters: metro = subway system. But it’s also the name of a grocery store, so better check whether you’re going to be commuting or cooking.


3. “Is there a saq nearby?”


Sack of what?  Actually, someone may be thirsty: SAQ = Société d’alcool du Québec = liquor store. By the way, you can also get wine and beer at the dep :)


4. “I already have an agent.”


That’s just not possible. As of May 2010, real estate agents are called brokers, and those formerly called brokers are now agencies.  I believe we’re the only jurisdiction in North America that felt the need to confuse everybody in this way.


5. “The lights should all be open for you. Please close them when you’re done.”


No, we’re not messing around with the wiring here. We’ve adopted the literal translations for turning the lights on and off: ouvrir and fermer = open and close = turn on and turn off.


6. “The terrain is beautiful.”


They don’t mean it’s rugged or mountainous or with lovely valleys, even if it is: terrain = land or lot.


7. “The salon is nice and big.”


No, you cannot get your hair done here: salon = living room.


8. “Tabernac.”


Sh*t!  Somebody’s not happy.  Maybe you should find the nearest SAQ!


For more of this fun, check out The Gazette’s series on Frenglish


This article was originally published at www.readysetsold.ca

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Professional home staging and professional photography: two critical factors to making sure your home looks its best, both in person and on the Internet, and neither of them cost you a penny when you list with me.


Put your best house forward. TM

Tanya Nouwens

Tanya Nouwens Inc., Montreal Real Estate Broker and Canadian Staging Professional (TM)  www.readysetsold.ca 

RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC., www.remax-quebec.om

C. 514-919-8468    tanya@readysetsold.ca

This blog is written with my opinions. My opinions are presented with accuracy but not guarantees. Copyright Tanya Nouwens - 2015. If you want to reprint parts of this, just email me for my permission at tanya@readysetsold.ca.


Comments (23)

Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

You'll need my post or me, Larry :)

Lori, after your years in West Africa, you must sometimes find yourself using a French expression and not being able to find an equivalent English expression.  For me, it's C'est pas evident.  Literally, it would mean "It's not evident" but it means so much more than that: It's not easy, It's not clear, It's not obvious. I find I use it a lot when speaking about parenting teenagers :)

Thanks, John!

Nov 25, 2012 11:27 PM
Mary Elizabeth Allen
Lake Monticello, VA

Hahaha the "tabernac" almost made me spit out my water! I've discovered that many families also adopt this method of melding language if they have immigrants in their background. My mother's family spoke a delightful version of Germlish that still comes out in my everyday life. My fiance is still learning it all!

Nov 26, 2012 12:16 AM
Dave Sullivan
Real Estate One - Birmingham, MI
Michigan Realtor with an investor viewpoint

Excellent information I will forward it if that is ok? thank you!!!

Nov 26, 2012 12:43 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

This was entertaining. Just perfect coming right after the last call I had to make which wasn't as fun.

Nov 26, 2012 01:52 AM
David Cooke
DLC Jencor Mortgages - Calgary, AB
your Calgary mortgage broker


   You got most of the localisms. When my parents sold their home in the West Island a lot of people did not know what a vestibule was. They were very common in 1960's homes. Realtors had to explain that to potential buyers.

Nov 26, 2012 02:53 AM
Jon Karlen
Finish Line Realty - Louisville Ky Real Estate - Metropolitan Service Area - Louisville, KY
Louisville Kentucky real estate - Metro Area

Great and funny list. :)  Really odd about the agents being called brokers, and brokers being called agencies.

Nov 26, 2012 04:08 AM
Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

Mary Elizabeth, glad to have made you laugh. Germlish - love it, sounds like a casserole of some kind :)

Dave, not sure who you would forward it to or why - wait a minute, are you trying to fool me by posting one of those generic comments? I shall not be fooled, mister :)

Jill, glad to help out. I had one of those today too but it was via text. Hang in there.

David, we still use that term.

Jon, we like to mix things up here. Part of our "je ne sais quoi."

Nov 26, 2012 04:17 AM
Jennifer Spanbauer Brodoway
Lethbridge Real Estate.com - Lethbridge, AB
just call jen

This makes me miss Montreal.  I was there and in Quebec city while a university student, and my french is a little rusty.  I was recently browsing the Quebec City MLS in order to brush up on my French for Real Estate, because I had some French speaking clients come to town.  But I think I like your lesson better.

Nov 26, 2012 07:13 AM
Bernice Dubon
RE/MAX First 403-607-9117 - Calgary, AB
Calgary Alberta Realtor

Ha ha!  Love the translations.  I've always wanted to go to Montreal, now I'll know what to ask for when we're looking for a bottle of vino ;)

Nov 26, 2012 07:22 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Tanya- I've been around real estate, and I still have to admit to being thoroughly confused. LOL

Nov 26, 2012 02:24 PM
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Zut alors, what the heck is a tabernac?? A church? A tobacco shop? A sled for riding on the snow? Inquiring, non parlais vous Francais-ing minds want to know! Wait, let me Google it....


OMG!!! OK, never mind...  ;-D

Nov 26, 2012 11:01 PM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team
Thanks Tanya that was an entertaining and informative post. And we thought French was difficult!
Nov 27, 2012 12:29 AM
Shanna Hall
Real Estate Solutions - Kirkwood, MO
I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311

Thanks for the education lesson- very funny ;)  I hope to see more of the "new" lingo!

Nov 27, 2012 12:54 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks, this was fun. But I think you aren't alone in the "confuse the consumer" thing. My daughter in law is a sales person in Washington state and recently turned into a broker without doing broker training. Now sales people are brokers and the person we used to know as the broker is called something else - maybe "Designated Broker." (I'm not sure about that one.)

Nov 27, 2012 03:52 AM
Nan Jester
Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL - Jacksonville Beach, FL
Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery

This is really cute. I would have probably wound up in a real mess without your translations.

Nov 27, 2012 06:50 AM
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

How come there was no mention of a took party.  I got mine from a consulate worker and still wear it when it snows!

Nov 27, 2012 10:47 AM
Rob Renk
Center Street Lending - McKinney, TX
AE | Fast Fix/Flip Loans for Residential Investors

Interesting stuff.  Thanks for sharing.

Nov 27, 2012 11:32 PM
Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

Jennifer, though we complain about the politics here all the time, I know there's no place like Montreal.

Bernice, and you can even find one at the local convenience store.

Christine, that's just the way we like it!

Pat and Wayne, your comment takes the cake! LMAO

Bob, it most certainly is.

Shanna, you can find it here - worth the visit, I assure you.

Marte, glad to hear we aren't the only ones.

Nan, I aim to help.

Rafi, a tuque party!  Now that's funny. And yes, they do come in handy around here.

Rob, you're welcome.

Nov 28, 2012 04:52 AM
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

I love it, Tanya.  It's a whole new language we have to learn if we come up there to practice real estate.

Dec 03, 2012 04:49 AM
Lisa Friedman
Great American Dream Realty - Essex, VT
35 Years of Real Estate Experience!

Tanya, very cute and good to know. Thanks for the chuckle.

Sep 22, 2013 02:32 PM