Nova Scotia

Booming Halifax housing market shows no signs of slowing down

Halifax's housing market is booming in the fall of 2020 with little indication that things will slow down this winter. Some houses are selling at $100,000 more than the asking price.

9 properties in N.S. sold for $100K more than asking price since June

This house on Connolly Street in Halifax was listed for four days at $649,000. After 12 offers, it sold for $128,000 more than the listed price. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Halifax's housing market is booming this fall with little indication that things will slow down this winter.

Realtor Jules Chamberlain put a house on the market in the city's west end earlier this month. Located on the corner of Connolly and Cork streets, the house — listed at $649,000 — sold for $128,000 over the asking price after just four days on the market.

Chamberlain said spring is usually the busiest time of year and the market was jumping by June. "And we haven't stopped since," he said.

According to data from the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, there were 5,530 properties sold between June 1 and Sept. 30 in the province, not including new constructions. 

Of those, 960 sold for $10,000 or more over asking price, with roughly 92 per cent of those higher sales in Halifax, Bedford and Dartmouth.

There were nine properties in Nova Scotia that went for $100,000 or more over the asking price, seven in the urban core. The highest difference of those in the province, located in Northport, sold for $185,100 over the listed price.

"I've been in the business since 2004 and I've never really seen anything quite to this degree," said Matt Honsberger, president of Royal LePage Atlantic and past president of the Nova Scotia Realtors Association.

"In our office alone, we've participated in a couple of different scenarios where 35-plus offers were received on the property. In both of those cases, we saw the property go for $100,000 [above] asking."

Houses in Halifax's west end, like this one pictured on MacDonald Street, are selling quickly and often for above the asking price. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Honsberger said it comes down to supply and demand. There aren't enough houses to satisfy all of the buyers interested in Halifax right now.

"If you asked me to find you a home three years ago, I would have been able to show you 2,800 different homes and today I can show you about 850," he said.

The Royal LePage House Price Survey for October says the aggregate price of a home in Halifax went up 11.3 per cent year over year in the third quarter. That's expected to keep rising up to 12 per cent in the final part of 2020.

Doug Hubley, realtor with ViewPoint Realty in Halifax, said he's found that "a lot of good properties are going at tens of thousands of dollars more than asking price."

He believes that's a good thing.

"Halifax is still a very affordable market if you compare it with the rest of Canada. So I think it's a good driver of the economy," he said.

"The last two years there's been no recession in the demand in the winter, so it's 12 months a year. And I think we're actually at the beginning of our housing boom. I think we're in for a good five or 10 years of this."

Across the country, the average Canadian house price has continued to soar over the last year. In Nova Scotia, it is up 21.5 per cent since September 2019.

Honsberger said the market isn't just hot in Halifax. He said it is strong across the province.

Both Honsberger and Chamberlain said the market really began picking up again in 2018 and the pandemic has only fuelled the demand.

"It was as if the world had suddenly realized that Halifax was a fantastic destination, which it is," Chamberlain said.

While some of the 2020 buyers are locals looking for more space, there's also been an uptick in people moving from Ontario and Alberta, Honsberger said, and being able to work remotely is a big driver.

'Balancing' but no downturn

But he also said for those looking to buy, things can be frustrating and there's a "real strategy" to the market at the moment.

"In a hot market, in a seller's market, it doesn't mean that you can just take any product and put the price wherever you want and it's just going to get competing offers. It doesn't work that way," Chamberlain said.

In the case of Connolly Street, Chamberlain said the goal was to price the house competitively.

"If you hit the bull's eye, you're going to start a fire and create a sense of urgency," he said.

"But by pricing it at $649,000, more people came to look at it and more people came in the competition. We received 12 offers, either seven or eight of those were over 700,000."

Honsberger said while people can expect "a bit of balancing" over the next year, he doesn't anticipate a significant drop anytime soon.

"I think there's too much momentum with what's happening in Canada right now to see a significant downturn," he said.

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