Contrary to the conventional wisdom that real estate is about location, location, location, first-time home buyers in the Halifax Regional Municipality are focused on price, price, price.
Sandy Hines of Royal LePage has been a realtor in the region since 1982. He says when young couples or singles come to him looking to enter the market, they start with a dollar figure.
“That usually determines what area they’re in,” he says.
“If you’re just starting out, it’s very hard to get on the peninsula of Halifax. Even Clayton Park is very expensive.”
As most first-home buyers don’t have kids and don’t intend to stay more than five years, day cares and schools aren’t usually a factor, but the work commute and bus access enter into consideration.
Caldwell Banker realtor Brenda Stampeen says the hottest price point is semi-detached homes for $180,000 to $225,000 in Sackville and Dartmouth.
“It’s a huge market right now. They’re coming with big deposits, they’re coming well informed,” she says. “Efficiency is huge — they’re looking at what it costs to run the place.”
Both realtors mentioned several hot-spot areas to buy homes in HRM. They include Royal Hemlocks, Hammonds Plains, Lake Echo, Forrest Hills, Cole Harbour, Portland Estates, Colby Village, Lower Sackville, outskirts of Dartmouth, Waverly and Montebello.
Areas to look at
• Colby Village has a range of houses, from those built in the 1970s to brand-new homes. It’s near schools, shops and green areas, making it one of Dartmouth’s most popular neighbourhoods. Bungalows are available from $170,000 and detached homes around $212,000.
• Montebello is a sought-after area of Dartmouth. Located just off the Waverly Road and near Mic Mac Mall, semi-detached homes can be found for about $189,000 and four-bedroom houses for $239,000.
• Lake Echo: Located 30 minutes from Downtown Dartmouth, this rural community has “mini homes” starting at $64,000 and three-bedroom family homes for $219,000.
• Hammonds Plains: Located 25 minutes west of downtown Halifax, Hammonds Plains offers mini homes for $109,000, bungalows for $280,000 and two-storey homes for $270,000.
• Forest Hills: Located a 15-minute drive from Dartmouth, this community just beyond the urban sprawl has starter homes from $182,000. Near CFB Shearwater, it’s popular with military personnel.