House Hunting in … Nova Scotia

House Hunting in … Nova Scotia

A laundry room and four bedrooms are on the second floor, including the master suite, which has an en-suite bath, a walk-in closet and access to a patio.

On the third floor is a guest suite, with four more bedrooms, a galley kitchen and a living room. Another bedroom, small kitchen, recreation room and office are in the basement.

This house is about a mile from downtown Halifax, as well as Dalhousie University and St. Mary’s University, two of several colleges in the area. Halifax Stanfield International Airport is about a half-hour drive.

Halifax, with a population of around 426,000, is the capital of the coastal province of Nova Scotia and home to financial institutions and one of Canada’s largest military bases.


Halifax’s housing market has remained fairly stable over the last few years, reflecting a steady local economy.

“We don’t see huge fluctuations in our marketplace here,” said Sandy K. Rutledge, a founder of Domus Realty in Halifax, noting that even after the 2008 global financial crisis, “we hung in here longer than most” in the country.

He and other agents said that their sales were moderately higher from a year ago. (A November report from the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors said that sales volume in the Halifax region rose 6 percent year to date, while prices were up 1.7 percent.)

Right now, Mr. Rutledge said, “We’re busy. The market has been strong, though we’re moving into our winter slowdown.”

The market is also experiencing somewhat of a construction boom, agents said, with many new rental units going up around the downtown periphery.

“Halifax has seen growth in commercial and residential,” Mr. Michaels said, noting, too, the new Halifax Convention Center, which opened in December. “And the population is growing. A lot of people who came to the area to attend the universities returned as professionals.”

Home prices in the city range from around 150,000 Canadian dollars, or about $120,000 for a small one-bedroom apartment in an older building downtown to nearly 5 million Canadian dollars, or $4 million, for a large home at the south end of the Halifax peninsula. Homes in the South End district typically start at around 650,000 Canadian, or around $510,000.


The market has seen a number of Canadian buyers from higher-priced areas in western Canada and Toronto lately.

“They’re cashing in and selling homes there for considerably more money and looking for a smaller city and quieter lifestyle,” Mr. Rutledge said.

Halifax also has plenty of foreign buyers, many of whom are seeking vacation or retirement homes, as well as places for their children to live while attending college. Buyers from Asia, the United States and Europe, particularly Britain and Germany, have been active in the market, according to agents.


There are no restrictions on real estate purchases by foreigners in Nova Scotia. Financing is also available, though usually at less favorable terms than for Canadian residents.

The process, however, is the same for all buyers, and generally straightforward, according to Moneesha Sinha, a real estate lawyer in Halifax. “We can turn it around fairly quickly,” she said, “sometimes in just a few days.”

Buyers will need to hire a qualified real estate lawyer for transactions, which are done in Canadian dollars.


Nova Scotia official tourism site:

Nova Scotia Association of Realtors:

Halifax tourism:

Government of Canada:


English, French; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar = $0.79)


Sellers typically are responsible for the sales commission, usually 4 or 5 percent of the purchase price.

Buyers pay a deed transfer tax of 1.5 percent of the purchase price, along with other closing costs like registration fees, title insurance and home inspection. Legal fees typically run around 600 to 1,500 Canadian, or about $500 to $1,200.

The annual taxes on this house are 19,118 Canadian dollars, or around $15,000.


Ethan Michaels, Bryant Realty Atlantic, 902-423-2769;

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