Generally, when I look at real estate stats, I use data based on 12 months of activity - where each point measures 12 months of data.  The more data we use, the better we understand trends.  However, things are changing rapidly in Halifax and the only way to properly demonstrate that is by using monthly sales data.

In the first quarter of 2020, the average sale price of a single family home in the Halifax Regional Municipality was $344,644.  In 2021 at time of writing, that number has skyrocketed to more than $475,000.  This represents a 39.5% increase.  The most significant jump occurred from December  to January  where the average monthly sale price increased from $426,705 to $468,548.  Low inventory is not a new problem.  It was a challenge in March 2020 but since then, the number of homes for sale has fallen by a further 72.8%.  Meanwhile, sales have increased by 18.1% year to date.  

Buyer desperation

With numbers this bleak, you find a real estate market characterized by bidding wars, bully offers and an overall feeling of buyer desperation.  Sellers hold the cards and are delaying when they review offers, often several days after the initial list date.  The goal is to get as many buyers through the door as possible to create the maximum amount of interest.  At which point, sellers often review ten or more offers and select the one with the best terms and highest price.  This is happening all across Canada, not just in HRM. 

Low Interest Rates and Low Vacancy

A recent Reuters article commented on Canada’s red hot housing market becoming a bonfire.  A call by some to implement cooling measures fell on deaf ears. Policymakers feel that due to COVID-19, the economy is too fragile to increase interest rates   As the cost to borrow remains low, so do vacancy rates in the rental sector.  The result is an increasing cost to rent which in turn, pushes more people towards homeownership. 

Bully Offers

A bully offer is perhaps a buyer’s best tactic to obtaining a home in the current market.  By waiting until the offer date selected by the seller, a buyer opens themselves to tremendous competition.  The purpose of a bully offer is to give the seller an offer so compelling that they must think long and hard about it.  A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.  Offering something to the seller with minimal conditions and substantial financial clout gives you the best opportunity to get selected. 

Tactics for those looking to upsize

For those who already own a home, this market is not as daunting.  We recently had a client who sold their two bedroom condo and obtained $45,000 more than they were expecting.  They had a lot more equity than they imagined and used a portion of it to pay off some short-term debt like a line of credit or a car loan.  This meant they were then able to get approved for a higher mortgage than they thought possible.  Their mortgage payment is now higher, but their overall monthly debt payments have decreased.  You will have to find another home, but if you negotiate a longer close on your sale and restructure some of your short-term debt, it will give you the best opportunity to upgrade.

What’s next?

More than 9,000 people moved to Nova Scotia in 2020.  Unless we see a huge influx of inventory, we do not see the market changing anytime soon. New construction is not occurring anywhere near fast enough to satisfy demand.  We have clients who bid on a new build two weeks ago and their close date is November.  That is pretty much as quick as you’ll see at the moment.  A home being built today won’t be ready until late in 2021 if not early 2022.  So those looking for accommodation in the meantime are going to have to do so in the resale market, where there’s not much choice either.  After vaccinations roll out and Nova Scotia eventually opens its borders, the big question is – Will people leave or will we see an even greater number flock to our fantastic little province?  We’re certainly not going anywhere.

 Questions about how to navigate this real estate market?  Contact us via the form below and we'll help you make the most of your next move. 

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Posted by Chris Perkins on
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Great read - solid insights !

Posted by Matt Shallo on Sunday, March 14th, 2021 at 12:51pm

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