SYDNEY, N.S. —
Wondering what a million dollars will get you in Atlantic Canada’s increasingly hot real estate market?
Some online research shows that those with the cash to splash on a new home have a plethora of choices in all four Atlantic provinces.
On Cape Breton Island, a region well-recognized for its reasonably-priced housing market, a mere $2,390,000 can get you an 11-bedroom, 11-bath, 5,800 square foot luxury home located on the world-famous Cabot Trail. Oh, it also offers breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sydney-based realtor Valerie Sampson said there are lots of people with deep pockets coming or at least considering a move to the island.
“There are lots of people coming from Ontario – people there are selling their homes for much more than they will pay for a comparable home in Cape Breton,” said Sampson, who operates RE/MAX Park Place Inc.
“They are selling and coming here where they can buy a waterfront home and still have money in the bank to enjoy their retirement in Cape Breton. The island has always been beautiful, so it is not that alone.
“I think the news hype that we live in a safe place and that we still have affordable housing is the biggest draw. The fact that there are few, if any COVID cases in Cape Breton, is attracting people.”
Current listings show six Cape Breton houses on the market with asking prices of more than $1 million. A dozen more are just under that mark.
Further evidence can be found in Inverness where several high-end housing developments around the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses quickly sold out after their initial listings.
Across Atlantic Canada
The most expensive single-family dwelling currently on the Prince Edward Island market is listed at $4,750,000. The five-bedroom, eight-bath, 12,997 sq.-ft. house overlooks the Mill River in the western part of the province and includes three kitchens, a wine cellar, a billiards room guest house, boathouse and an in-ground pool.
In New Brunswick, the historic Seabright estate in St. Andrew’s is the province’s highest-price listing at $3,295,000. Restored and enlarged in 2005, the 11,000 sq.-ft. stately edifice features 11 bedrooms, 10 baths, four staircases, an elevator, a great room and an observation tower.
Like the other top-of-the-list properties, it enjoys fabulous views of the water, in this case that being Passamaquoddy Bay.
It turns out that Newfoundland and Labrador’s real estate market goes far beyond the famous brightly-painted homes of St. John’s.
The priciest listing currently is an 11,044 sq.-ft. house overlooking the ocean just a short drive from the Newfoundland capital. The $2,995,000 home is located in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s on the north section of the Avalon Peninsula.
The four-bedroom, six-bath mansion comes with a great room featuring a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, a theatre, a master suite with fireplace, sauna and whirlpool, a wine cellar and a detached garage with a 1,205 sq.-ft. loft.
But, by the far the most expensively priced estate in Atlantic Canada is the aptly named Shangri-La Ranch estate on Roberts Island on the South Shore near Yarmouth, N.S. The $7.89 million price tag includes an 8,454 sq.-ft. house with six bedrooms, nine baths, water views on three sides, multiple decks, an indoor pool and expansive gardens that feature a labyrinth maze and fishponds.
It should also be noted that the annual property taxes for the exclusive estate are about $33,000 a year.
Since it is a given that the average east coast Canadian home buyer cannot afford a million-dollar home, the question arises as to who is in the market for a luxury estate.
According to Michael Poczynek, a Charlottetown-based realtor who specializes in high-end and waterfront properties, most people looking at luxury homes on the island are from Canada’s most populous region – southern Ontario.
“We have never really seen too many million-dollar-plus home sales in P.E.I – I don’t think there has been more than 20 in the history of real estate in this province and most of those would have been in the Charlottetown area,” acknowledged Poczynek, who is originally from Ontario.
“But now, we’re getting all the baby boomers from southern Ontario, who I would say make up about 98 per cent of that market, and from what I understand they had a couple of really bad (financial) quarters during which they saw their home values max out and so many are looking to sell.”
However, Poczynek said the P.E.I. housing market, in which the average home now goes for about $286,000, gets a bit thin at around the $500,000 mark.
“If we get a buyer spending more than that then they are like Bill Gates – we are generally not moving multi-million (dollar) homes,” he said, while acknowledging that east coast prices do represent quite a bargain to prospective home buyers from hot real estate markets.
“For example, I was looking at a 40-year-old, modest, three-bedroom bungalow in my hometown of Burlington and it was $1.2 million. How many first-time home buyers can afford that?”
Most expensive homes on the market in Atlantic Canada (by province)
Shangri-La Ranch, Roberts Island, Yarmouth Municipal District
Six bedrooms, nine baths, 8,454 sq.-ft., water views on three sides, multiple decks, indoor pool and expansive gardens featuring a labyrinth and fishponds.
Prince Edward Island
Mill River East Road, Prince County
Five bedrooms, eight baths, 12,997 sq.-ft., river views, three kitchens, wine cellar, billiards room, guest house, boathouse and in-ground pool.
Seabright, Brandy Cove Road, St. Andrews, Charlotte County
11 bedrooms, 10 baths, 11,000 sq.-ft., four staircases, elevator, great room, observation tower with views of Passamaquoddy Bay
Restored and enlarged in 2005
Newfoundland and Labrador
Tolt Road, Portugal Cove – St. Philip’s, Avalon Peninsula, four bedrooms, six baths, 11,044 sq.-ft., great room with floor to ceiling stone fireplace, theatre room, master suite with fireplace, whirlpool and sauna, games room, wine cellar and detached garage with 1,250 sq.-ft. loft.
While the luxury home market remains the domain of dreamers and the wealthy, those with their finger on the pulse of the overall real estate industry say the market is continuing to heat up.
Catherine Harvey, a veteran Cape Breton-based realtor and owner of Harvey Realty in Baddeck, said she has been pleasantly surprised by the upturn in Victoria County’s general real estate market.
“It seems that over the past few years Cape Breton is becoming discovered – the market has been really hot. We didn’t expect it but it’s happening and everybody seems to be talking about it,” she said.
“In the past year since COVID began, the market has been very strong and we are seeing interest from a lot of people in Ontario and other parts of Canada where they may or may not have had an affiliation with Cape Breton to begin with, where they have realized they can work remotely and where they are starting to realize that now is the time to move.”
For her part, realtor Valerie Sampson said she attributes the interest in Cape Breton to the growing recognition that the island offers two of the most basic human needs – safety and shelter.
“We all know Cape Breton is beautiful, it’s always been pretty but I think the news hype that we live in a safe place and that we still have affordable housing is the biggest draw.
“There is also the fact that there are few, if any, COVID cases in Cape Breton. So, overall, when people see that Cape Breton is safe and that (home buyers) can get a nice home at a reasonable price, this is where they are coming.”
Commercial Real Estate
Sampson also noted that she is seeing more and more off-island investors looking at Cape Breton as a place to invest their money. And she cites the current listing of a 36-unit apartment complex in Sydney as an example.
“I was totally blown away by the number of investors wanting to invest in Cape Breton,” she said, of the interest in the $2.7-million complex on Alexandra Street in Sydney
“I received 12 offers in the span of three days for that property and most were off-island investors looking at properties here in Cape Breton. I am seeing more and more of this.”
The latest figures show Sydney’s median house price to be about $150,000, much lower than the average Halifax house sale price of $450,000, and far below Vancouver ($1,262,000) and Toronto ($1,045,488).
Forest Gate buys Niagara Falls shopping centre | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange
Forest Gate Financial Corp. has acquired a Niagara Falls shopping centre as the newly formed investment firm begins building a portfolio and executing on its strategy to acquire a diverse range of properties.
The Mount Carmel Centre was purchased from a private investment group for $37 million. The 30-acre site at 3930 Montrose Rd. is occupied by a shopping centre with tenants that include Food Basics, The Sleep Factory, Tim Hortons, Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s, among several other retailers and food, beverage and service providers.
“We really believe in the Niagara Falls market and think this is an excellent opportunity for us,” Forest Gate chief executive officer and managing partner Dan Marinovic told RENX. “We like the site because it’s a very large property that we feel we can add value to.”
Forest Gate will manage the property, which is in close proximity to a residential neighbourhood and Mount Carmel Park. Niagara Falls has natural attractions, a strong tourism industry and a manufacturing base.
The city will benefit from improved GO Transit service, which Marinovic believes will make it an attractive location for people looking to work remotely while seeking a more affordable and relaxed lifestyle than can be found in larger markets.
Forest Gate seeks variety of asset classes
While there are no immediate plans for redevelopment, the Mount Carmel Centre site is large enough to accommodate future multifamily and mixed-use development.
Forest Gate is establishing a stand-alone purpose-built rental apartment vertical and Marinovic said it has close to 500 units under management or in its acquisition pipeline.
The company is looking to add at least 1,000 units annually over the next several years. It’s targeting value-add opportunities in Southern Ontario communities like Niagara Falls where there’s access to public transit and pleasant environments for living and working from home.
Forest Gate is also seeking income-producing industrial and retail properties, as well as development and redevelopment opportunities.
The Vaughan-headquartered boutique real estate private equity, private debt and advisory investment firm was launched in March by Marinovic and partner and chief financial officer Frank DelZotto to deliver premium risk-adjusted returns on its own and in partnerships with developers, builders, investors and capital providers.
Forest Gate can be nimble in making acquisitions and Marinovic is excited by the momentum the company has achieved in its first six months.
“We’re big believers in the Canadian real estate landscape, especially as things start to normalize and we get immigration back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Marinovic. “We’re looking at very significant growth over the next 12 months.”
The Forest Gate team
Marinovic was most recently chief development officer of Dream Unlimited, where his responsibilities covered finance, development, construction and operations. Before joining Dream in 2013 he was vice-president of finance for First Gulf, the commercial real estate arm of Great Gulf, for seven years.
DelZotto was previously a partner at BDO Canada LLP for 19 years.
Forest Gate just hired Justin Hawkins, formerly First Gulf’s senior manager of development and planning, as director of development. Hawkins worked for RioCan REIT, Dream and SmartCentres REIT before that.
Vaughan-based home-builder Treasure Hill Homes is a partner in Forest Gate. Forest Gate’s advisory board is comprised of Marinovic, DelZotto, Treasure Hill president Nicholas Fidei and Treasure Hill CFO Mark Caruso.
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Podcast: What triggered a record-breaking Ottawa real estate deal – Ottawa Business Journal
A record-setting residential real estate deal takes centre stage in the latest episode of Behind the Headlines.
To hear the full podcast with OBJ publisher Michael Curran and editor David Sali, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify.
MC: We know the business audience likes big numbers, and this is a big number: a quarter of a billion dollars. This is a three-building rental apartment complex in Westboro, and it sold for $267 million. We think it’s the largest residential real estate deal in Ottawa history. Dave, tell us about it.
DS: CBRE brokered this historic deal. It actually took three of their offices – Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal – working together to get this deal done. That’s how big it was. The buyer is Homestead Land Holdings out of Kingston. They already own a couple of dozen properties in Ottawa along with dozens more across the province. As Nico Zentil of CBRE’s Ottawa office told me, it is just very rare that you would see a property of this scale ever come on the market in Ottawa because we have a pretty tightly controlled market here. This is part of Homestead’s play to expand its footprint here – they also recently filed an application to build a 25-storey apartment tower with 235 units near Baseline and Greenbank. Clearly, they’re wanting to go big in what they think is going to be a big bounceback for the Ottawa rental market. Zentil said the properties were hotly pursued and got multiple bidders. That’s a testament to the strength of the Ottawa residential market right now.
As you know, last year wasn’t great for the rental market in Ottawa. With the pandemic, two big groups that are normally pretty steady, reliable renters – students and new immigrants – well, there weren’t many of those coming to the capital last year, so that caused a little bit of a dip in the rental market for sure. But the general consensus seems to be that things are ready to bounce back.
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