Nova Scotia

New data shows number of N.S. homes passed on within families

For the first time, Statistics Canada believes it has a true picture of how many properties are changing hands in Nova Scotia, including how many properties are being passed on as a form of family wealth. 

Statistics Canada says information provides fuller picture of N.S. real estate market

A new home is displayed for sale in a new housing development in Ottawa in 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

For the first time, Statistics Canada believes it has a true picture of how many properties are changing hands in Nova Scotia, including how many properties are being passed on as a form of family wealth. 

The agency has never before been able to track properties that were passed between family members off the regular real estate market. 

It released that data for the first time this week for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and British Columbia. 

"Previously, observers and analysts only had the MLS [Multiple Listing Service] data, which is a segment of market sales," said Jean-Philippe Deschamps-Laporte, the chief of the Canadian housing statistics program at Statistics Canada.

"So whatever is happening through private sales, or other means such as Kijiji or different platforms, would have not been available in terms of information."

Numbers so far for 2018 only

The number-crunching has only been done for sales in 2018, but Statistics Canada plans to use the same methods to track the years since then. 

In 2018, roughly a third of property transactions in Nova Scotia happened off the regular market, and the majority of those were between related parties.

"It's actually a large portion of all transactions," Deschamps-Laporte said. He said the agency interprets that the bulk of the off-market transactions are inheritances or bequests. 

"The bulk of those were through related parties, meaning parents, grandparents, giving a property to relatives, for instance." 

Statistics Canada says a total of 25,390 residential properties in Nova Scotia changed hands in 2018. It says that represents about 5.7 per cent of all residential properties. 

Statistics Canada says it now has methods to find a more complete picture of the housing sales market in Nova Scotia. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Of the properties that changed hands, 18,015 were market sales and 7,375 were non-market sales (about 4.1 per cent and 1.7 per cent of all residential properties, respectively). 

There are other types of non-market transactions such as foreclosure sales and forfeitures, but Deschamps-Laporte said these made up a relatively small number of the non-market sales.

Deschamps-Laporte said it is important to understand the true number and nature of which properties are changing hands, such as how much vacant land exists for building, or how many row houses, condominiums or single-detached homes are being sold in each province. 

"People tend to buy a starter home and then hold it for a number of years, and then maybe move to pricier types of property, which means that there is specific types of properties that are more often on the market, because they contribute to this property ladder," he said. 

"So understanding these ratios allows us to draw a full picture of people use residential properties to sort of move up in terms of property type and property values." 

The agency also believes the information will be an important baseline in gauging the change in the province's estate market through 2020-2021.

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