Welcome to Boom Town

Much has been said about languid markets in Toronto and Vancouver, however, Halifax is in the midst of a boom.

According to Clinton Wilkins of Centum Home Lenders Ltd. a major reason for that is the city’s affordable housing prices.

“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 migrations from other areas like Calgary and Toronto, and we’ve seen a good influx of new to Canada here on the East Coast.”

To say that housing prices in Halifax are favourable is an understatement.

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

That is a far cry Canada’s major metropolitan areas. While B-20 is intended to curtail rapid price growth in Toronto and Vancouver, it’s made owning a single-family detached home well-nigh impossible for many. Homebuyers in Canada’s largest city have instead flocked to the condo market.

“For Toronto, a lot of people were barely qualifying prior to the rule changes, so the rule changes aren’t having their intended impact. They were looking to slow the inflation of prices in Toronto and B.C., and unit transactions are way down in both markets. It will take a while for the prices to go down because it’s still an issue of supply and demand. There was way too much demand before and it artificially raised the price.”

It isn’t likely that prices will go down in either of Canada’s two major housing markets—at least not any time soon, and probably not without economic deceleration.

In Halifax, on the other hand, the average home stays on the market for 90 days, signifying a normal, healthy market. How long will that continue?

“I think the action will continue into this year and into 2019, for sure, pending other major changes,” said Wilkins. “If the Bank of Canada stays steady with the rate, that will help us. One issue in Halifax is we’re having a bit of a supply issue. For a long time, it was a buyer’s market and the shift is now to a seller’s market, and sellers haven’t caught up with the demand. There’s not enough supply.”

When Wilkins started in the industry 12 years ago, he recalls seeing a single crane in the sky. Today, he estimates there are about 20. The country’s major housing markets hog all the headlines, but if Halifax is any indication, expect to start seeing smaller, vibrant markets shine.

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