By Zoocasa on June 28, 2021 Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
As more people become untethered to their urban commutes and downtown offices, smaller cities like Halifax-Dartmouth have become an attractive option for home buyers looking for the city lifestyle with a much lower property price.
Avg price 2020
Value score (out of 5 stars)
Neighbourhood economics score (out of 5 stars)
Neighbourhood accessibility score (out of 5 stars)
% Households with Children
middle & upper sackville-lucasville
eastern shore-musquodoboit valley
hammonds plains-st. margarets
waverly-fall river-beaver bank
east dartmouth-the lakes
halifax north end
clayton park west
northwest arm-south end
The municipality of Halifax can be referred to as Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality or HRM, which consists of Dartmouth, Halifax, the former Halifax County and Bedford areas. Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia and at last count has a population of just under 418,000 residents. Halifax is a proudly multicultural city centre, boasting that “home to 55% of the people who immigrate to Atlantic Canada and 80% of those who immigrate to Nova Scotia.”
Halifax also has a vibrant tourism industry, with popular oceanfront and historic lighthouse trails. It is also robust with arts and music, as well as a robust academic scene: six of Nova Scotia’s 10 universities have situated their main campuses in Halifax.
Why we’re watching Halifax Regional Municipality
As more people become untethered to their urban commutes and downtown offices, smaller cities like Halifax-Dartmouth have become an attractive option for home buyers looking for the city lifestyle with a much lower property price. The Halifax region’s average home price, in 2020, was 35% lower than the national average—though for how much longer remains to be seen. The Canadian Real Estate Association’s interpretation of the increasing average price data suggests values are rising everywhere as home buyers seek larger ground-level properties across the country.
Pre-COVID real estate market
Buyers looking for a casual cosmopolitan lifestyle have been heading to Halifax shores for quite some time. The average price has increased by more than 24% in the past three years, with more than 13% growth seen in 2020 across all combined property types.
Halifax has a mixture of larger historic homes along the waterfront, and denser populated condo/apartment complexes to house its large student population. Competition has increased in the past few years, with bidding wars becoming more common in this in-demand area.
Impact of COVID-19
With the immediate and almost absolute shift to remote work for a large portion of the adult Canadian population in 2020, the Maritimes became a more popular option for buyers who had the flexibility to “work from anywhere.” Nova Scotia logged more than six months in 2020 without a single reported COVID-19 case, which also made this province an attractive destination for those trying to escape rising case counts.
According to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR), as the pandemic wore on in 2020, “single detached home sales in Halifax-Dartmouth numbered 1,326 units in the fourth quarter of 2020, a large increase of 37.1% compared to the same quarter in 2019. This was the highest level of sales for this quarter on record.”
With increased demand, homes in Halifax-Dartmouth spent less time on the market in the fourth quarter of 2020 than they had a year earlier. The median number of days on market for homes in Halifax-Dartmouth was 22 in the fourth quarter of 2020, down from 48 days in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The median sale price for single-detached homes in Halifax-Dartmouth rose 17.2% on a year-over-year basis to $375,000 in the fourth quarter of 2020. This was a new record for the median sale price of single-detached properties in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.
“As individuals and families continued to have the flexibility to move outside of the more expensive metropolitan areas, smaller but vibrant cities like Halifax become a viable and desirable alternative for those looking for an urban location with amenities but at a more reasonable price tag,” said Lauren Haw, CEO and Broker of Record at Zoocasa.
Halifax saw record increases in sales volume and average price in Q1 2021. As in many cities across the country, the new year brought a continued high demand from buyers and relatively lower inventory in the first quarter of the year. By the end of March 2021, the national average sale price had increased 31.6% year over year. In Halifax-Dartmouth, the median sale price for single detached homes posted a large increase of 40.3% on a year-over-year basis to reach $460,000 in the first quarter of 2021. This is a new record for the median sale price in this area. In addition, single-detached home sales in Halifax-Dartmouth numbered 1,116 units in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 27.3% compared to the same quarter in 2020. This set another new benchmark with the highest level of sales for this quarter on record.
The first quarter of 2021 ended with only 1.1 months worth of inventory available in the sought-after province—so we can expect to see Halifax prices continue to rise. In turn, this will continue to put more pressure on buyers, benefit sellers and be an increasing challenge to native Haligonians, who are now competing with the additional influx of newcomers to their province.
Bedford is a historic suburban community of Halifax that sits on the stunning Bedford Basin and offers scenic views of Halifax Harbour. Established in the mid-1700s, this friendly community has two bigger shopping malls, nature trails and historic parks, as well as a popular farmers’ market. Average home prices in Bedford have increased by more than 25% in the past year, and by more than 46% since 2017. Almost half of the households in Bedford have children, making it a great community to raise a family. It offers urban amenities within a short 20-kilometre commute to downtown Halifax and has the lowest crime rates in the HRM. Zoocasa’s Haw notes: “Buyers should consider the additional cost of a vehicle if they are looking to buy in Bedford, as accessibility and transportation scores are low. However, Bedford has a lot to offer young families.” Draws to this area include close-knit communities, good schools and local traditions like The Chickenburger drive-through restaurant, which has served residents since 1940. Expect to spend a bit more for this area, as average home prices in Bedford sat above the regional average at $558,502 in 2020, versus the entire Halifax Dartmouth region at $363,946.
The Preston-Lawrencetown-Chezzetcook area sits approximately 30 kilometres outside of Halifax’s downtown, which makes it a reasonable option to access the amenities and cultural sights in the province’s capital. This area is sparsely populated across wide lands and can offer space to those who seek it. Most notably, it has a variety of small and larger waterfront properties for sale. The beaches and ocean draw tourists and residents alike for the quiet recreational, surfing, fishing and outdoor activities. The average home price in this area has increased over 17% in the past year and almost 33% in the past three years. While this area may seem sleepy to some, it can offer a quaint and laid-back lifestyle for individuals and families looking to breathe and enjoy the fresh open air.
Timberlea is located on the suburban/rural fringe of the Halifax Regional Municipality, approximately 15 kilometres outside downtown Halifax. It is known for its beautiful lakes and outdoor trails. The Beechville Lakeville Timberlea (BLT) Rails to Trails Association has turned 13 kilometres of the old Halifax and Southwestern Railway bed from Beechville to Hubley into a hiking/cycling/ATV trail for all to enjoy. It’s also conveniently accessible by Highway 103 and en route from the interior of Nova Scotia to Peggy’s Cove, one of the most recognizable landmarks on the province’s shoreline. Average prices in this area have increased by more than 17% in the past year and almost 30% in the past three years. While this area is sparsely populated, it presents a good opportunity for individuals and families who want to live close to nature, have access to beautiful freshwater lakes and forests.