New Brunswick

Province still a bargain for homebuyers as sales climb, CREA says

Buying a house in New Brunswick is a lot more affordable compared with the rest of Canada, according to real estate groups.

House sales in New Brunswick are expected to remain 'historically strong'

As of last week, 7,826 residential units were sold across New Brunswick this year. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Buying a house in New Brunswick is a lot more affordable compared with the rest of Canada, according to real estate groups. 

As of last week, 7,826 residential units have been sold this year — up two per cent from 2017 and just one per cent below the province's record year in 2007.

"Those are pretty incredible amounts of activity," said Sheila Henry, president of the New Brunswick Real Estate Association, which represents close to 900 Realtors in New Brunswick.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, or CREA, sales in New Brunswick are expected to remain "historically strong" in 2019, while national home sales are projected to fall to a near decade low in 2019, as rising interest rates and strict mortgage stress-test rules dampen homebuyer sentiment.

The national average home price this year was $488,600, down 4.2 per cent from 2017, when the average price was $502,684.

Housing prices in New Brunswick

Meanwhile, the average price of a New Brunswick home was $175,976, up 11.4 per cent from last year but the lowest in the country. The next lowest average price in Canada was $225,655 in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

"Average sale prices are going up and forecasted to continually rise as they have been," Henry said of the New Brunswick outlook.

Fredericton went against the trend this year, with an average house price of $164,692, down 3.9 per cent from November 2017.

But in the greater Moncton area, the average price was $182,300, up 4.2 per cent.

We're trying to put ourselves more on the map and say 'Look, Eastern Canada has lots to offer. You don't have to pay a million dollars for a 600-square-foot condo.-Sheila Henry, the New Brunswick Real Estate Association

And in Saint John, the average house  price was $197,463, up 21.9 per cent from November 2017.

Sherry Sheldrick, president of the Saint John Real Estate Board, which  represents 230 Realtors, said there's been a greater increase in the average sale price of homes in and around the Saint John area, which drives up the overall sale price across the province.

"Our city has done a fabulous job in the last year or two to really promote our city," Sheldrick said. "We are one of the most affordable housing markets within Canada."

She said movement in the Saint John area includes people in the area planning to move into bigger houses come spring and fall, as well as new purchasers from outside the province.

"[People are] coming from some of the strong markets such as Ontario and out west and the pricing of properties there and relocating back here," she said. 

Henry said other factors also play into rising house sales across New Brunswick, including low supply and increased demand.

"Over the past three years, our supply has trended down steadily, so that right now we've got a much better balance in the marketplace," she said.

For instance, New Brunswick's active listings last year were 16.6 per cent higher than they were this year for November, she said.

Looking ahead for 2019

With a new government in place, Henry said she's hoping for the removal of a "double property tax" on secondary properties, something the New Brunswick Real Estate Association has been lobbying to have removed for more than a decade.

"If that can get removed we're going to see far more sales activity in the real estate market in both multi-units and residential and cottage type properties," she said.

"That, too, will help to drive prices and also to drive sale amounts for New Brunswick, which is very encouraging."

Henry said she also expects more people will be buying houses, particularly in the northern part of the province, where the average price for a home in November was $123,000 and a lot of land is available.

She said investors from the U.S. are also buying homes in New Brunswick.

"There's a buzz in real estate," she said. "We're trying to put ourselves more on the map and say 'Look, Eastern Canada has lots to offer. You don't have to pay a million dollars for a 600-square-foot condo.'"

With files from The Canadian Press

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