Nova Scotia Real Estate Report for April

april market report
market stats for Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Real Estate Market: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

The Nova Scotia real estate market has been experiencing a slowdown this first quarter of 2024. Primarily driven by buyer sentiment and being influenced by job insecurity, higher costs of living, and health concerns,. However, there are positive signs and opportunities for improvement on the horizon.

Permit Processing and Construction Activity

However, there is a need for further reductions in permit fees to pass on savings to homebuyers, according to Duncan Williams, CEO of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia. “Higher interest rates, labour shortages, and supply chain issues are some of the biggest challenges holding the industry back, but those are easing.”  [2].  Some levels of government, such as the Halifax Regional Municipality, are offering fee waivers [1] for non-profit institutions and incentives for building secondary or backyard suites.  [3]

Housing Supply and Density

Local municipalities are witnessing a surge in applications for rezoning and higher-density developments, signaling a push for increased housing supply.  [4] If these applications go through without pushback during the public consultation stage, then this is a positive change in overcoming long-standing challenges such as “not in my backyard” (NIMBYism) syndrome. Housing starts setting records and is up in the first quarter for Nova Scotia [3]. [5]

Economic Factors and Recommendations

The Bank of Canada released their productivity report in March, which emphasized the need to encourage private enterprise, reduce red tape, match skills to jobs (especially for new Canadians), and provide tools for workforce productivity. [6] This approach aims to address the “in case of emergency, break the glass” situation that Canada currently faces.

To boost productivity and economic growth, increasing business investment, competitive wages, and funding for in-demand jobs like tech and trades, while trimming government waste, would be beneficial. [6] Collaboration, less gatekeeping,  between different government departments and levels is crucial to aligning policies on immigration, housing, healthcare, and infrastructure.

Real Estate Market Across Canada

Fixed rates have gone up about 30 basis points over the past few months due to the strong Treasury market in the US. [7]  Lack of inventory is still having a major impact on sales as sellers are holding tight to their current mortgage interest rates.  The weekly number of mortgage applications has been up and down throughout April in the US as buyers are getting desensitized to the current rates. [8]

Major cities across the country are seeing sales and inventory drop year over year, but home prices are increasing. Many realtors are saying that it would be busier if there was more inventory. Places like Ottawa, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Halifax are still in a sellers market with less than 4 months worth of inventory.

The exception to this is Vancouver, where there is actually a healthy amount of inventory enough to put them in a balanced buyer’s market, but the price point is well beyond the average buyer’s pocketbook. 

Calgary, Edmonton, and Regina are the hottest markets where prices are up, but sales are also up year over year. Even above a multi year average, which takes into account the COVID price peak. [9]

 

Positive Signs and Outlook

Despite the challenges, the numbers look positive. Housing starts are up, and inflation is on a slow decline. The numbers show job wage growth, especially in the health and education sectors. [10]. Even the Nova Scotia real estate market numbers are strong, with prices still on the rise year over year and month over month. 

The number of home sales is nowhere near where it was during the height of the pandemic, as home buyer sentiment is still erring on the hesitant side. Factors beyond just mortgage rates play a role in their hesitancy. Word on the street is about job insecurity, costs of living, and folks taking on part-time jobs to supplement their income.

Addressing inefficiencies in government systems, fostering collaboration between sectors, and focusing on productivity rather than popularity could pave the way for a more robust and affordable housing market in the province.

 

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