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Real estate boom on Eastern Shore – Guysborough Journal



EASTERN SHORE – “I never would have thought real estate would be booming during a pandemic, but I believe what is driving the market in this area is the fact people can work from home. They want to be out of the city – they want personal space – to grow a garden and want a slower pace of life in a rural setting,” explains Deanna Parks, Century 21 Realtor, about the increase in houses sold along the Shore in the past several months.

The boom is happening all over the province and most of the country, Parks says, “…because interest rates are low and the home inventory was low over the spring – with many qualified buyers out there looking – we have a surplus of buyers. Since prices are being driven up in the urban areas, buyers are now looking out past the city in more rural communities with lower ‘affordable’ price points and they are looking for that ‘small town’ feel with most amenities nearby.”

“Typically, in the last two years the average time on market for homes to sell in the real estate region known as Halifax Country East was 145 days. This year that has reduced to 93 days on market. I have seen many homes sit for up to two years before selling and that could suggest the price was too high initially for what potential buyers were looking for,” says Parks.

“I took a look at the data for home sales in the area of Halifax County East, which covers East Ship Harbour to Ecum Secum Bridge and the communities within those boundaries from June 1 to September 1 in 2019 and there were 10 home sales and for 2020 there have been 21 sales between the same time period. Of course, there are many more pending sales but not yet sold,” Parks says.

Recently, Parks has had properties receive offers just days after being on the market – and some with multiple offers which, she says, “is unheard of for the area.” Parks says buyers are looking for space and privacy, a garage and if possible, a view of the water – or even better – waterfront. “Larger homes take more time to sell as most people purchasing are looking to retire and downsize. Waterfront properties sell fairly quickly and vacant land tends to sit longer as buyers can purchase an existing home at such a great price – but no matter the type of property – with patience and competitive pricing – a property will sell.”

Unreliable Internet connectivity and intermittent cell service can be a challenge in selling a home but Parks now has new expectations with the recent Develop Nova Scotia announcement for fibre optic Internet on the Eastern Shore by 2022. “Hopefully this will change now that most of the communities in the Sheet Harbour area will have fibre op internet service.

“Spring and fall are the best times to list a home but there are always buyers out there, so never worry about the best time to list,” Parks advises. “It is a seller’s market right now. Prices have slightly increased and sellers are getting close to asking price for their homes because there are multiple buyers competing for homes.”

Currently, Parks says, the buyers are 50 per cent local and 50 per cent from away. “We have a lot purchasing within Nova Scotia right now but still have a big market of buyers coming from Ontario. Of course, because of COVID-19 and the 14 days quarantine it can be challenging for our friends in Ontario to purchase and many are purchasing sight unseen. To do this, their agent will do virtual tours of the property using Facetime, Zoom or other conference calling platforms and send videos of the home.”

For people considering entering the market, Parks offers simple advice. She suggests that sellers refrain from major renovations as you may not see a return on your investment. “Declutter your home and make spaces as bright as possible. Any major repairs should be done before selling such as roof shingles and leaking windows or have the price reduced and issues disclosed to allow for a buyer to do the repairs themselves. Test your water if you have not done so for a few years; unknown issues can arise and a water system may be needed. Buyers looking to mortgage a home need potable water so major health concerns such as bacteria, arsenic or high manganese must be corrected,” Parks said.

Parks tells buyers to get pre-approved for financing before looking at a home. If you are a first-time home buyer, you should have your own agent. The listing agent is working for the seller as the seller pays the commission. “Also,” she includes, “we will discuss what is involved with purchasing and costs associated with buying such as inspections and other details.”

The Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission and Nova Scotia Association of Realtors laid out guidelines from directives given by the Nova Scotia Government and Public Health on how to safely show homes and interact with clients during COVID-19. At the height of the pandemic Parks was showing homes and meeting with clients. Procedures that agents were following included screening sellers and buyers for COVID-19 symptoms.

“We were practicing social distancing when showing homes, disinfecting high touch surfaces and using hand sanitizer before and after meeting clients.” Parks continues, “Buyers and sellers were signing a COVID-19 declaration and if social distancing was not possible, they were wearing masks. Now with the easing of restrictions, many of these procedures have relaxed as well.”

As far as her own career in real estate goes, Parks says it’s proving to be an exciting time.

“I have been flat out busy! In this industry you are pretty much available 24/7 and this summer in particular I have been non-stop working on listing and viewing appointments and of course paperwork – so much paperwork! This is a new experience for me. Business has always been steady but this is the extreme and quite exciting.”

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Saint John tenants nervous about Historica real estate deal –



A major real estate transaction in uptown Saint John has many tenants concerned.

Hazen Property Investments has sold 20 of its buildings to Historica Developments.

They include the McArthur on Germain Street and another 12-unit building on the west side to name just a couple.

“My gut feeling was anxiety — stress,” said Jeff Arbeau, who has been renting from Hazen for years.

Hazen is known for good-quality units at reasonable prices.  

Historica is known for fixing up older buildings and turning them into luxury units.

We kind of realize there’s probably too many high-end expensive units that most people, we understand, can’t afford.– Keitch Brideau, Historica

Their prices “far exceed” Arbeau’s price range.

Historica rents typically range from $1,200 to $2,000 a month, while Hazen’s are $400 to $700.

“It would have a massive impact ability on my ability to live,” said Arbeau.

Many of his neighbours are also worried.

The information package they received from the new owner asked for debit pre-authorizations for rent payments and promised continued “exceptional” service but didn’t make any assurances about future rental fees. 

Keith Brideau is reassuring Hazen tenants their rents will not be going up. (CBC)

“They don’t have to worry about it,” said Keith Brideau, president and founder of Historica.

Brideau said his company is not planning to increase rents for any current tenants or to change fees for parking, heat or lights.

That’s because he won’t have to recoup investments for any major upgrades.

“They’ve done an excellent job of taking care of their properties,” said Brideau. “Some of them are real gems.”

As tenants move out, he said, units will get things like fresh paint, refinished floors, and new countertops. 

Future tenants, might be charged $50 to $150 a month more than the current rates.

“We definitely aren’t going to be pricing people out of the market,” said Brideau.

Brideau partnered with investors Dr. David Elias and Alex Elias to purchase the Saint John City Hall tower in 2018. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Historica is looking to expand into the “middle market,” he said, where rents range from $500 to $1,000 a month.

“We kind of realize there’s probably too many high-end expensive units that most people, we understand, can’t afford.”

Arbeau said another concern of his is about losing the “mom and pop” service he had from Hazen.

“You can contact them with a need, and they’ll get to you right away,” he said. “They know your name. They help you any way they can.”

Brideau said his company is aiming to match or improve the level of service.

Coun. Donna Reardon says she’s been hearing from concerned tenants for the past two months, since Historica began inspecting Hazen properties. (CBC)

“I’ve spent many a Christmas Day in a furnace room trying to get a furnace going with my dad,” said John Hazen, general manager of Hazen Property Investments.

Hazen’s grandfather bought the company’s first building 100 years ago.

Hazen said he had a heavy heart about the sale, but it was a good business opportunity and the right choice for his family.

Hazen had 13 employees. That’s being reduced to about seven.

Historica’s Park Place redevelopment on Canterbury Street. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Some of the people losing their jobs were close to retirement, he said, and all are receiving severance packages based on their years of service.

Hazen still has 270 units, including Regency Towers on the east side, some on Coldbrook Crescent, and one on the west side.

Municipal leaders have been inundated with messages about the Hazen sell-off.

Their buildings are “little micro-communities,” said Coun. Donna Reardon, who represents Ward 3, which includes the uptown and central peninsula.

“Those neighbours will look after each other,” Reardon said. “People who are in them are there for a long time. … If you’re there seven or eight years, you’re one of the newbies in a lot of Hazen’s buildings.

“So, that is upsetting to think that your neighbours may have to move, or you may have to move out.”

Everyone’s “major concern,” she said, “is that rent will go up extraordinarily.”

There aren’t any rent control mechanisms available to the city, but Reardon said she expects the market will control itself to some degree.

“He can skyrocket the rents, I suppose,” said Reardon, “but what will the market bear in Saint John?”

Reardon said she’d be interested in exploring best practices across the country on rent controls, but she is reluctant to do anything that would stifle development and growth.

Information Morning – Saint John22:06Historica developer pledges no rent hikes

Hazen Apartments was in the rental business in Saint John for 100 years. This week they sold all 20 of their buildings to Historica Developments. We hear from a former Hazen tenant, developer Keith Brideau, who bought the properties and an expert on affordable housing. 22:06

Some are worried that Historica may own too big a share of the local housing market and that this will give it monopoly-like power over prices and availability of apartments.

Historica now owns nearly 40 buildings containing a total of about 400 units.

Brideau estimated that represents five per cent or less of the rental market.

Julia Woodhall Melnik’s big concern is potential gentrification — the displacement of people who live uptown because it’s affordable.

“Where are they displaced into?” asked the assistant professor and director of the laboratory for housing and mental health at UNB Saint John.

The north end is one possibility, said Woodhall Melnik, but deficiencies in the public transit system would make it difficult for vulnerable populations to get to uptown services.

Saint John promotes itself as having relatively low housing prices when it comes to buying, she noted, but limited rental stock means rents are less affordable.

Woodhall-Melnik is hoping developers and landlords will take advantage of government funding available for rent subsidies and affordable housing developments.

Information Morning – Saint John15:33We continue the conversation on affordable housing

We continue our discussion of affordable housing in Saint John. Hazen Property Investments talks about the decision to sell 20 of their buildings. And Ward 3 city councillor Donna Reardon tell us what her constituents are saying and what the city can and can’t do to keep rents reasonable for people. 15:33

Brideau agreed affordable housing is a big issue and said he “would like to be part of that solution.”

He said Historica might announce something on that front within the next year.

Brideau said more construction is happening now in Saint John than he’s seen in the last 20 years. He noted one non-profit building is going up now on Wellington Row.

Reardon said affordable housing is “on everybody’s radar.”

She noted there are still many vacant lots in peninsula neighbourhoods.

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Toronto's hot real estate market may cool down in coming months – Toronto Sun



Article content

A new survey shows the aggregate price of a home in the GTA increased by 11% year-over-year to $922,421 in the third quarter of 2020.

This Royal LePage House Price Survey says the median price of an average two-story home increased 12.2% year-over-year to $1,082,502 in the third quarter of this year.

The price of a bungalow jumped 10.6% year-over-year to $887,156.

During the same period, condominiums in the GTA  saw prices rise 6.8% year-over-year to $599,826.

Strong home price gains were seen in Toronto where the price of a home rose 11.1% year-over-year to $975,980.

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The median price of a standard two-story home rose 15.5% year-over-year to $1,483,510. And the price of a bungalow increased 11.3% year-over-year to $974,295.

The average price of a condominium increased 4.9% year-over-year to $644,903 during the same time frame.

“Demand from the delayed spring market has continued through the third quarter,” said Debra Harris, vice president for Royal LePage Real Estate Services Limited. “The seasonal slowdown is expected in the coming months, but given the recent strength of September, we will likely see a more brisk fourth-quarter market than the previous year.”

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Cape Breton University to honour physician and real estate tycoon –




An oncologist and a real estate mogul will be this year’s recipients of honourary degrees from Cape Breton University.

Dr. Ronald MacCormick, oncologist, and Louis J. Maroun, real estate, will be presented with their honourary degrees during the university’s fall convocation set for Nov. 7.

“Both Dr. MacCormick and Louis J. Maroun have represented our island in their respective careers and they have impacted thousands of Cape Bretoners; one in life-saving cancer care and one in international business and philanthropy,” said David Dingwall, university president and vice-chancellor.

MacCormick is the chief medical oncologist at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.

Dr. Ronald MacCormick, oncologist. CONTRIBUTED
Dr. Ronald MacCormick, oncologist. CONTRIBUTED


He completed his medical training at Dalhousie University and his specialty training at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. His highly-reputable medical practice and his role in developing the state-of-the-art regional cancer center has impacted patients from across Cape Breton Island and parts of mainland Nova Scotia. 

“Although I was not born in Cape Breton, both my parents are from here and I have spent the vast majority of my career here and raised a family here. My connections to Cape Breton Island and the people I care for are deep and I am a proud promoter of Cape Breton,” said MacCormick.

Maroun was born and raised in Sydney and holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of New Brunswick and is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Considered one of the most prolific executives in national and international real estate transactions, Maroun first began his career in real estate in 1982 after seven years with the Nova Scotia provincial government.

He has built a highly-notable career and has been dedicated to his philanthropic work with such charitable organizations as the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, the Canadian MS Society, Casting for Recovery Canada and Cape Breton University’s Shannon School of Business. 

“I credit my Cape Breton roots with giving me the drive, ingenuity and determination to succeed in my business career. It also taught me the value of caring for each other during adverse times, which led to my desire to give back to my community,” said Maroun.

Cape Breton University has been awarding honorary degrees since 1989.

The fall convocation will be celebrated through a virtual platform and to view the ceremony, visit


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