Housing supply and demand issues continue to be a problem in Nova Scotia, including the Highlands region.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing stock has become a popular commodity, with homes selling well above their asking price and properties being bought out quickly.
“Over the past year, we’ve certainly seen a wave of activity, absolutely. It’s nothing like our counterparts in town, but it’s been a very busy one, ”says Giselle Sceles, of Sceles Realty Limited, which covers the Antigonish, Guysborough and Strait areas.
According to statistics from the Nova Scotia Real Estate Association, the Highlands region has seen both an increase in the number of residential properties sold over the past year as well as an increase in the average price.
As of November 2021, 533 properties had been sold, a year-over-year percentage change of 46%, while the average price is $ 230,848, a year-over-year percentage change of 30.7%.
“We never really had the inventory corresponding to the number of buyers floating around, so it was always a sellers market,” Scele explains. “(There were) a lot of situations of competing offerings and sometimes these exceeded the list price and sometimes they significantly exceeded the list price.”
In Guysborough, this demand turned out to be a problem.
“We have about 25 or 30 new houses built in a year, traditionally… the older housing stock has been bought, so now there is not much to buy,” says Barry Carroll, administrative director of the municipality. of the district of Guysborough.
Those looking to buy land and build their own or buy a manufactured home are also having trouble, Carroll says. There has been a slow comeback due to the demand for manufactured homes, as well as an increase in the cost of building materials.
However, there are benefits to buying inventory – it means more people are coming to the area.
There is certainly an increase in the price of housing here, so much so that it is difficult for a new family to come and buy something.
– Laurie Boucher
“It’s something a bit unique; to see the demand in all parts of this province, so we’re pretty happy, ”Carroll says. “We love new residents because it brings life to the community, so it’s good when you can have it in rural areas. “
Laurie Boucher, Mayor of the Town of Antigonish, observed a similar trend. She says she’s happy more families are moving to Antigonish, but there must be places people can live.
“We’ve definitely seen a rise in prices, but we haven’t had a lot of resale either,” says Boucher. “But there is definitely an increase in the price of housing here, so much so that it is difficult for a new family to come and buy something.”
Boucher and Carroll say the housing market isn’t just about those looking to buy; this also has an impact on rentals.
“I think it’s because this market has been pushed from the top to the bottom of the sales side, affecting the rental side,” Carroll explains, adding that now is a good time to sell, residents could sell their properties. secondary instead of renting them. In other cases, with more and more people looking for accommodation, the accommodation was rented out more quickly.
Boucher says Antigonish has taken housing initiatives in recent years. Among these is a revised town planning strategy and land use planning bylaw that allows for the construction of additional units, such as an attached or detached master suite or a basement apartment.
“We thought it was pretty gradual in the sense that often house or rental prices are determined by availability, so we wanted to increase the housing stock,” she says. “It’s one way we thought we could do it. Now I have to admit that there weren’t many people who took advantage of it, but I hope we will see it later. “
As for the continuation of the trend, Scele says she can’t make a forecast just yet because the winter months tend to be a bit slower.
“I don’t think the number of buyers has necessarily decreased. I still have a long list of buyers looking… but it’s definitely slowed down and inventory is almost non-existent right now, so I have no idea what’s going to happen, ”she says.