While Toronto and Vancouver are typically seen as the darlings of the Canadian real-estate scene, the past six months have shown a cooling in these oversaturate markets. Meanwhile, on Canada’s sleepy east coast, home sales are seeing an uptick despite a mild downturn in the national average. One of the reasons that this is happening is that mortgage rates will be going up towards the end of 2017; thus, young families are looking to lock in the current, lower mortgage rate. If people were hesitant to buy, the looming new rate is definitely providing a motivation to adopt a buyer’s mentality.
Condos that have been developed along the Halifax peninsula are especially attractive to buyers, as they are reasonably priced, environmentally friendly and located near the small city’s downtown core. There is also a dearth of older properties on the peninsula that may need renovations, but a young ambitious couple could certainly make a beautiful home out of some of these properties if they brought a fierce, DIY attitude to the project.
According to one east coast realtor, sales are up 5-6 percent in 2017 and homes are staying on the market for a period that is 10% short than it was in 2016. This boon may cool off a bit once the new mortgage rate kicks in, but in the meantime things are great for Halifax realtors; compared with the cooling markets in major Canadian cities, Halifax property prices are still on the rise.
This may be due to the fact that compared to Toronto, the urban expansion has been slightly slower on the East coast, where areas like the North End and the nearby city of Dartmouth across the Halifax Harbour have only been invaded by young middle-class families in the past few years. These communities represent viable options for young families with a bit of money who need access to downtown for work. It may still be a few years before these areas hit the kind of saturation that is being experienced in larger cities (the population of Halifax is still less than half a million).
Unlike some other real estate bubbles, the east coast brokerage scene is a bit more laid back and inviting (like the overall mood of the province), making real estate a less intimidating field to work in. Landing that first sale can often lead to many more opportunities if realtors engage with the community, since word of mouth and trust are highly valued amongst Haligonians. Obtaining a commission advance before the money changes hands is a viable way to stay afloat between sales, which can be helpful for young realtors. Even if you’re on a winning streak, if you work in real estate, it’s worth knowing how commission advances work in case you need to make use of them someday.
Another interesting corner of the market is downtown offices, which have an extremely high vacancy rate (14.2%). This rate is, however, down from 14.8 % last year, and current trends seem to suggest that these vacant offices will start getting snapped up as more and more young, middle-class families show an interesting in living and working in Halifax.