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).
Canadian home prices on fire and policymakers using ‘squirt gun’
By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) -Buyers are turning up the heat on Canada‘s searing hot housing market, their frenzy leading to record sales, prices and starts, but in a budget unveiled on Monday the federal government did little to tamp down the fire.
The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed home price gains accelerated 1.5% in March from February, data released on Tuesday showed.
The index was up 10.8% on the year, with a record 81% of the broader 32 markets surveyed posting annual gains above 10%. That far exceeds the last peak in 2017.
On Monday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, presenting Canada‘s first budget in over two years, fleshed out a previously announced tax on foreigners parking money in Canadian homes, along with limited investments in affordable housing.
“The idea here is that homes are for Canadians to live in. They are not assets for parking offshore money,” Freeland told reporters.
For those watching, it was nowhere near enough.
“It’s like a squirt gun next to a towering inferno,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.
“We need to break the psychology that real estate is this can’t lose investment that only goes up,” he added. “Before this turns into a full-on bubble.”
March was a record month for new housing starts and home resale prices surged 31.6% year-over-year.
New Zealand, facing a similarly red hot market, introduced a raft of cooling measures including new taxes on investors and stricter lending rules.
And most measures that would cool the frenzy are up to the provinces and federal government who remain cautious as a third wave of COVID-19 rages.
Real estate agents say more listing are now coming to market, but they still see a massive long-term shortage. They expected more than the 35,000 units pledged in the budget.
“It’s not going to do much to intervene in the activity level we’re seeing now across the country,” said Christopher Alexander of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in OttawaEditing by David Gregorio and Alistair Bell)
Canada housing starts up 21.6% in March to new record – CMHC
By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian housing starts rose 21.6% in March compared with the previous month, easily beating expectations and hitting a new record, data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation showed on Monday.
The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts rose to 335,200 units in March, well ahead of analyst expectations for 250,000 units, and a new high for all months on record.
Much of the gain was on multiple urban starts, which jumped 33.8% to 222,358 units. Single-detached urban starts rose 3.6% to 78,615 units.
“The big acceleration came as weather was unseasonably warm in many parts of the country,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Economics, said in a note.
Mendes added that new home construction will likely be a major contributor to overall GDP growth again in 2021, even as building activity cools off from the “torrid pace” of recent months.
Canada‘s average home selling price soared an eye-watering 31.6% year-over-year in March, hitting a new high as sales also climbed to a new all-time record, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said earlier this month.
A supply imbalance has been blamed for skyrocketing home prices through the pandemic, though new listings surged in March, which, coupled with strong starts, suggests a more balanced market could be coming.
“Red-hot demand for real estate propelled a record month for housing starts in March. While the market will need a long stretch of supply growth to have a meaningful effect on prices, the March numbers are a solid start,” said Shelly Kaushik, an economist with BMO Capital Markets in a note.
Canada‘s ruling Liberals are set to unveil their first full budget in two years on Monday, with billions in pandemic supports as COVID-19 infections skyrocket, a national daycare plan and new taxes on luxury goods.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Toby Chopra and Jonathan Oatis)
Canadian home sales, prices surge to new record in March
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian home sales rose 5.2% in March from February, setting a new all-time record amid strong demand in markets across the country, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Thursday.
The industry group said actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, rose 76.2% from a year earlier, while the group’s Home Price Index was up 20.1% from last March and up 3.1% from February.
The actual national average selling price hit a new record at C$716,828 ($572,821) in March, up 31.6% from a year earlier and rising 5.7% from February.
($1 = 1.2514 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa)
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