Nova Scotia

Housing wealth in Nova Scotia concentrated at the top, Statistics Canada finds

New data from Statistics Canada shows how a significant amount of Nova Scotia's housing value is distributed among the province's wealthiest people, and that one in five homeowners have more than one property.

Findings show wealthiest 10 per cent of homeowners have more than the bottom 50 per cent

New numbers released from Statistics Canada examine housing inequalities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

New data from Statistics Canada shows how a significant amount of Nova Scotia's housing value is distributed among the province's wealthiest people, and that one in five homeowners have more than one property.

"You can see quite a concentration in Nova Scotia at the top end of the distribution of people's wealth, when measuring the value of their home," said Jean-Philippe Deschamps-Laporte, the head of the Canadian Housing Statistics Program. 

The analysis, which was released this week and examined 2019 and 2020 data from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia, found what Deschamps-Laporte called a "stunning" result which the agency has never before broken down. 

The bottom 50 per cent of homeowners by income in Nova Scotia own just 21 per cent of the housing wealth in the province, when that wealth is measured by assessed value. At the same time, the top 10 per cent of homeowners own 25 per cent of the province's housing wealth.

He noted that renters have a much lower median income than homeowners. In Halifax, the median income for renters is $25,000 per year, but $60,000 for homeowners. 

"This is the sort of relationship that suggests that there is indeed a concentration at the top," Deschamps-Laporte said. 

Many N.S. owners have more than one property

Deschamps-Laporte said the agency has been working to help answer some urgent questions about Canada's housing market, including the role played by multiple property owners. 

Roughly 22 per cent of owners in Nova Scotia have more than one property. Collectively, they own 40 per cent of the housing stock.

That 40 per cent is a higher share than New Brunswick, Ontario or British Columbia, but Deschamps-Laporte said there are some differences between the provinces.

In Ontario and B.C., many multi-property owners' second property is in the same municipality. 

"It can be attributed, most probably, to investors and rental properties: that sort of dynamic where people would decide to own a second property not too far from their principal residence so they could tend to it," Deschamps-Laporte said. 

But the analysis found that in Nova Scotia, many multi-property owners' second property was somewhere else in the province. 

"In the case of Nova Scotia we don't find this relationship, which suggests that it's another type of arrangement, most probably along the lines of recreational property," he said. "So despite the numbers being higher than elsewhere, it may mean something different."

Non-residents

Deschamps-Laporte said it's not yet possible to be sure who is using a second property for investment and who is using it for recreation, but the agency is working on this and hopes to release more information later this year. 

Nova Scotia's provincial government has put forward several new policies related to housing affordability in recent days, including a new deed transfer and property tax for people who live outside Nova Scotia but own a property in the province. 

Deschamps-Laporte said non-resident owners were not studied in the analysis. The numbers only include people who both reside in Nova Scotia and own a second property there.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaina Luck

Reporter

Shaina Luck is an investigative reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has worked with local and network programs including The National and The Fifth Estate. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca

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