REAL ESTATE MARKETS – Halifax homes to stay stable

Average price expected to reach $313,300 this year: Royal LePage

THE CHRONICLE HERALD – January 14, 2016 Edition

The average price of a home in Halifax is expected to grow by a modest 2.5 per cent in 2016, Royal LePage says.

Overall, house prices are forecast to be $313,300 this year, according to an updated price survey and market outlook released Wednesday by the real estate brokerage. The average was $305,700 in 2015.

Ian Hamilton, a Realtor and owner of Royal LePage Anchor Realty in Halifax, said prices are expected to remain stable due to continuing oversupply. Some neighbourhoods where demand is lower could see prices decline in 2016, Hamilton said.

‟We are seeing an improvement,” he said in an interview. ‟There was more activity in December than expected. We’re pretty optimistic about 2016.” Hamilton said one sign the Halifax market will pick up slightly is a recent increase in the number of people moving home from Western Canada.

Another driver is continuing demand from international students who want to stay in Canada after they graduate and whose families also immigrate, he said.

The housing sector will also benefit as more military families are starting to relocate, he said.

‟It’s looking like the military is going to go back to posting with every two, three or four years now instead of seven. The past three or four years, it’s been a difficult market because there hadn’t been as many military moves.” Lingering economic uncertainty, coupled with a series of mortgage rule changes that affected first-time buyers, helped make Halifax a buyer’s market this past year.

Hamilton said sales volumes were stable in 2015, but homes took longer to sell.

During the fourth quarter, the average house price in Halifax rose 2.2 per cent over the previous year, Royal LePage reported. The overall price was $305,700.

Leading the way were condominium prices, which rose 4.8 per cent, to $300,200. An average two-storey house advanced 2.6 per cent, to $346,400.

Meanwhile, bungalow prices were almost unchanged from the previous year, at $236,500.

Hamilton said condos remain popular with retirees and downsizing baby boomers.

Younger buyers want two-storey homes in move-in condition, he said.

But there are indications that bungalows and townhouses could become more popular with older buyers and also first-time ones, Hamilton said.

‟It might balance out, because that’s what I’m seeing.”