In the last few weeks the Halifax real estate market has really began to pick up. Whether you're buying a single family home or condo, buyers are competing among one another for listings that have been on the market for only a few days. So while this is great news for sellers (it's been a buyers market for years), some buyers are missing out on their dream homes. However, given the right approach and using a few simple techniques, buyers can put themselves out in-front of the competition.
Have Your Financial Pre-Approval Done Ahead of Time
Understanding your purchasing power before you begin looking at homes and condos can save you a considerable amount of time. First of all, you'll only be looking at listings that fall within your budget. Secondly, you will feel confident and ready to write an offer on your dream home knowing your bank or lender has already pre-approved you for that price point. Having your "ducks lined up" will put you at a competitive advantage over other buyers in a hot market.
Hire a Real Estate Agent
A good real estate agent will understand exactly what you're looking for and will continually keep an eye on the market for you every single day. Being notified as soon as a hot listing comes on the market is the best way to ensure you're one of the first to view the home and if necessary, the first to submit an offer. Waiting even a day or two allows for other buyers to come along and submit offers of their own. Once you get into competing offers you risk having to pay more money and even worse, lose out altogether. Be early and get ahead of the competition.
Know Exactly What You're Looking For
Write a list of the five must-have items you want in your new home / condo purchase. How many bedrooms are you looking for? Does it have to have an ensuite or a walk-in closet? What about underground parking or an attached garage? Or is exterior parking fine? Do you like new, turnkey construction or does something that's a bit dated where you can put sweat equity in work for you? These are all important questions to ask yourself ahead of time. This way, when you walk into a home, if checks all of your boxes you can feel comfortable writing an offer.
Understand the Market
Start looking now. Even if you're one, three, six, twelve months away from purchasing it's a good practice to get out and view a couple of homes today. It's never a waste of your or your real estate agents time. This will help you better understand different neighbourhoods, price points and most importantly, what you do and do not want in a home purchase. This way, when your dream home pops up, you will feel comfortable and confident in submitting a quick offer.
Last Resort; Get Creative
While we haven't personally encountered it in the Halifax market just yet, people are now submitting Love Letters (that's not a typo) along with their offers. While they've been around for a while, they're getting a lot more popular, being used by buyers as a last-ditch effort to win via the seller's emotional attachment to the home. Most letters talk about favorite design choices the seller incorporated, plans to raise the family and proclamations that the home is "the one" after a long and tough home search.
Or, you can do what this gentlemen did and create a music video. Because of this video his family won the bid on their dream home by making a music video to "Our House," which just so happened to be the song the sellers sang to each other when they first lit the fireplace in their home. The connection instantly won the sellers over, beating out another offer that was $20,000 over the buyers' submission.
For more information on how to stay on top of a hot Spring market, feel free to contact us at any point-in-time.
As the number of Nova Scotians moving into condominiums continues to climb, so to have the number of pets. Developers have realized this trend and are now offering everything from in-house pet stations with showers to outdoor pet parks. Still, if you're a pet owner contemplating moving into a condo building, there are a few of things to consider.
1. Can your pet handle small area living? First, the most important factor to consider is whether your pet is suited for that type of living environment. Is your pet/dog small or large, loud or quiet, high energy? Different breeds are better suited for small living areas and don’t require as much space or exercise as other breeds. Also, some animals have separation anxiety and can be quite loud when their owners are away. A yappy dog is sure to cause issues with neighbours. So ask yourself, will your pet be happy living in a condo?
2. Condo Pet Rules: Inform yourself about the condo building’s rules regarding pets in the building. Some forbid pets of any kind while others allow cats but not dogs. Also, some buildings restrict the size of dogs allowed. However, most condo buildings in Nova Scotia are completely open to the concept of pet ownership, as long as you and your pet adhere to building rules (where they can use the washroom) and anti-nuisance rules.
3. Condo Location: It’s important for pet owners to consider the location of the condominium; a dog living in a condo is going to need to stretch its legs. Is the condominium you’re considering close to areas where you can walk your dog? In Halifax, there are many fantastic off-leash parks and as long as you live close to one them, you should be able to conveniently exercise your pet. Here are a few of the best dog parks around Halifax:
Point Pleasant Park, Hemlock Ravine Park, Dartmouth Commons, Frog Pond Trail, Shubie Park
Long Lake Provincial Park, Fort Needham Memorial Park, Africville Park, Halifax Commons
Gorsebrook Park, Belchers Marsh Park
4. What happens if there is an issue involving my pet? The proper place to go first is the condo board, which can apply a number of remedies ranging from mediation and resolving the dispute, or requiring modifications to the pet owner’s behaviour to forcing the removal of the pet. This might sound extreme, but keep in mind if your neighbours are unhappy with your pet, they can make your life unhappy as well.
Overall, the majority of condominiums in Nova Scotia are pet friendly as long as the pet is well behaved and owners respect the building rules and policies you should have no problem. If you own a pet and are contemplating moving into a condo, consider all aspects when choosing your building.
Downsizing leads to freedom and financial flexibility. Whether you're a baby boomer or simply looking for a lifestyle change, it might be time to move on from the chores and upkeep of that large suburban home and spend more time and money doing the things you enjoy without the hassle. But downsizing isn’t always easy and can take a lot of work. Here are a few steps and tips to help you along the way.
1. Assess your Actual Needs: Is a large home still necessary and does it cater to your lifestyle? Perhaps your children have purchased their own homes and they can begin to host Christmas and big family get-togethers. Or perhaps you'll be spending a few months down South and you no longer want to worry about your pipes freezing and whose going to look after your house while you’re away. If you find that you’re no longer enthusiastic to look after your home, it’s likely time to consider downsizing.
2. Plan It: You may not be ready to downsize right away, and that’s okay. Often times, the process can take up to 2-3 years. Your family home likely holds a lot of fond memories and it may take you a few months to come to grips with downsizing. Also, getting your home ready to sell takes time and effort.
3. Go Through Your Home: It takes a lot of work, time and patience to downsize. While some people can downsize quite quickly, most cannot. You have to go through the shed, garage, crawl space, attic and even more tedious cabinets, shelves and closets. The more you go through and organize now the better off you will be later in the process.
4. Give to Charity, Family or Sell It: Plan a big garage sale for the Spring or Summer, donate your clothes, jackets, shoes to charities and that old comic collection from your teenage years, perhaps it’s time to pass it onto a niece, nephew or grandchild. For diplomas and professional awards, scan it, digitize it and give away the frames.
5. Organize New Space As You Unpack: In many cases, your new condo or dwelling will be approximately 40-50% of the size of your old home. Each person will prioritize their new space differently but as long as you unpack and organize as you move in, you'll be fine. Automating also helps, downsizing is not just about getting rid of items, but also cutting costs. An automation system for your lighting and heating can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over time.
6. Relax & Enjoy: Remember this is meant to be a positive experience. Downsizing is not about letting go and forgetting. Rather, it’s a new chapter or lifestyle where you can use the addition of time and money to pursue the activities in life that make you and your family happy. You've earned it.
Relocation Blog Series #1: Understanding Halifax Neighbourhoods
It can be quite difficult purchasing a new home or condo in a city you haven’t spent much time in. Most often, distinguishing one neighbourhood from another is the hardest part in choosing where to live when relocating to Halifax. So, here we did our best to break it down for you.
Peninsula of Halifax
The Halifax Peninsula can be broken into three sub areas; South End, West End and North End Halifax. And of course, there are unique neighbourhoods within each of these as well.
South End Halifax
Depending on who you ask, South End Halifax begins “somewhere” around the Halifax Commons and carries through to Point Pleasant Park. It encompasses Downtown, The Halifax Waterfront, the Hospitals and both Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s universities. One could easily argue that South End Halifax is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Atlantic Canada and the prices of homes and condos reflect that. If you’re the type of person who wants to be in the heart of the city, this is the place for you.
North End Halifax
“Up-and-coming” and “Hipster” are two terms that are often used to describe the various neighbourhoods in North End Halifax. From the southern end of Gottingen Street through Agricola Street and into The Hydrostone, North End Halifax offers trendy restaurants, coffee shops, distillery’s, condos and so much more. Prices of homes and condos in North End Halifax are typically less than the South End but of course, there are some very nice, high-end homes here as well. If working downtown Halifax with a short commute is your thing, North End Halifax might just be for you.
West End Halifax
From Quinpool Road down through Armdale Rotary and over to Dutch Village Road, West End Halifax is mostly made up of single family homes and residential neighbourhoods. Outside of the Halifax Shopping Centre, West End Halifax isn’t known for its shops and restaurants. Still, if you want to be on the peninsula and close to downtown, there are many excellent options for single family homes.
Just off the peninsula, Mainland Halifax includes Fairview, Clayton Park and Bayers Lake. Here is where you really start to see the value when purchasing a home or condo. Prices in these neighbourhoods are typically 20-50% less than those in the South End of Halifax. While getting on and off the peninsula during rush hour can be a little bit of a hastle, Mainland Halifax is perfect for investors, young families and first time home buyers.
Bedford is arguably the fastest growing suburb of Halifax and it's easy to see why. Hammonds Plains, Larry Uteck and all of West Bedford continue to see many new home, apartment and condo buildings going up every year. With relatively quick access to the peninsula, Dartmouth, Bayers Lake, Halifax International Airport and highways leading to Truro, South Shore and the Annapolis Valley, to many, Bedford is the central point to HRM.
Purcell’s Cove & St. Margaret’s Bay
Purcell's Cove and St. Margaret's Bay are located along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia. If you're seeking that true, Nova Scotian feel, want to be close to the ocean, hiking trails and don't mind a moderate commute (15 - 30 minutes) then these communities might be perfect for you. There are a lot of older homes however new construction continues to spring up in multiple areas. There is some tremendous value in these communities while there are also some very expensive, gorgeous waterfront homes as well.
To many, South End Dartmouth (downtown) has a very similar feel to North End Halifax. With a lot of trendy restaurants and pubs popping up every other day (see The Canteen, Battery Park, etc.) Dartmouth is beginning to attract a lot of young families, investors and first time home buyers. But Dartmouth has something for all demographics. Multiple community colleges, hospitals, schools, parks, in addition to Dartmouth Crossing and Burnside Industrial Park (nearly 2,000 businesses employing 30,000 people) the city is growing and has something to offer everyone. One of the biggest complaints is the commute to Halifax, however for most parts of Dartmouth it is not bad as many believe. Home and condo prices offer great value and there are many fantastic neighbourhoods to choose from including, but not limited to: Montebello, Portland Estates and Woodlawn.
Home of Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon. What more do you need to know? 😉
In all seriousness, Cole Harbour has a lot to offer it’s residents. There are some excellent neighbourhoods and many schools to choose from in addition to grocery stores, restaurants and Cole Harbour Place. Home prices are very affordable and with it’s proximity to Dartmouth and Halifax it’s become a very attractive city for families. Not to mention, many of the cast members from Trailer Park Boys are also from here.
Fall River & Waverley
Fall River and Waverley are highly sought-after suburban communities on the outskirts of Halifax. With so many lakes within and surrounding both communities, kayaking, canoeing and cycling are popular activities among the residents. Waverley doesn’t have much for amenities however because of it’s proximity to Dartmouth it doesn’t need any. Meanwhile, Fall River has a grocery store, Tim Horton’s, pharmacy, gas stations and much more while it’s also very close to Sackville and Bedford. Last, both communities are close to highways and the Halifax Stanfield Airport making this an excellent area for outdoor enthusiasts and established families.
Lawrencetown & Porters Lake
Approximately 15 minutes to Dartmouth and 25-40 minutes to downtown Halifax, If you enjoy being outside the city close to beaches, hiking trails and places to surf - Lawrencetown, Lake Echo, Mineville and Porters Lake all have some great neighbourhoods to choose from. Outside of Porters Lake, you won't find much for amenities however that isn't slowing home sales. Like the other outlying suburb communities, home buyers can find both value in older homes and land while expensive, modern waterfront properties are available as well.
The Condo Market in Halifax was relatively strong in 2017 with 543 total sales. The total number of sales were up 8% over 2016 however the average sale price was flat at $256,066. Currently there are 297 condos on the market in all of Halifax and the average days on market is 101. It is currently a Buyers Market.
Active Listings: 297
2017 Avg. Sale Price: $256,066
2016 vs. 2017 Avg. Sale Price: +.1%
2017 Total # of Sales: 543
2016 vs. 2017 Total # of Sales: +8%
2017 Avg. Days on Market: 101
Type of Market: Buyers
The peninsula of Halifax currently has 91 active condo listings. The total number of sales are up 2.9% over 2016 and the average sale price is up 4.13%.
In 2017, the average sale price was $316,390 and it is currently a Buyers Market.
There are currently 94 active condo listings in Dartmouth. The total number of sales are down 19% and the average sale price is down just slightly at .34% over 2016.
In 2017, the average sale price was $231,627 and it is currently a Buyers Market.
Bedford currently has 59 active condo listings. In 2017, the total number of sales were up 27% however the average sale price was down 3.3% over 2016.
In 2017, the average sale was $240,914 and it is currently a Buyers Market.
There are currently 69 active condo listings in Clayton Park. In 2017, the total number of sales increased 32% however the average sale price dropped 5.1% over 2016.
In 2017, the average sale price was $208,766 and it is currently a Balanced Market.