International buyers flock to East Coast city

by Neil Sharma17 Jan 2019

Secluded in the continent’s northeast along the Atlantic Ocean, it’s sometimes easy to overlook Halifax, but that’s changing because the city’s real estate market is showing signs of buoyancy not seen in most of Canada last year.

Through November, the Halifax-Dartmouth region had 5,927 residential sales, which may seem paltry on the surface but in fact represents a 6.1% increase over the previous year.

According to Donna Harding, a licensed partner of Engel & Völkers Halifax, the region’s sales boost is being driven by retirees and international buyers, which is perhaps unsurprising given Nova Scotia’s position on North America’s perimeter.

“We’re getting a lot of retirees from Canada en route to the East Coast, wanting to retire in a quieter area but with up-to-date culture and good restaurants,” she said. “The other big thing we’re seeing is international growth; buyers from Asia, Britain and even Algeria. We’re getting a lot of people coming from India too The province is finally becoming what I would call an ideal place for the international buyer who’s looking for either a cottage or a place to migrate. All of these things accumulating together have finally put Halifax on the map.”

A lot of smaller markets throughout Canada struggled under the weight of the B-20 mortgage rules implemented 12 months ago, but Harding says Halifax isn’t among them because housing is still affordable for the majority of its residents.

Clinton Wilkins, a mortgage broker with Centum Home Lenders Ltd. in Halifax, echoes Harding’s assessment of the city.

“Halifax is boom town,” he said. “Homeownership is obtainable and realistic here. On an average household income, you can buy a single-family detached home. There’s a lot of opportunity in Halifax, as well, because there’s a lot of positive migration from other areas like Calgary and Toronto, and we’ve seen a good influx of new to Canada here on the East Coast.”

Consider that through November 2018, the average price of a residential property in Halifax-Dartmouth was $302,228, a 1.9% over 2017, and that in Toronto the average price of a home was $788,345.

“You can buy a nice single-family home in Halifax for the same price as a bachelor condo in Toronto,” said Wilkins. “I would even venture to say that you can buy a new construction single-family home for that price.”

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