A bustling economy, housing affordability and an extended period of good weather have contributed to solid home-buying activity throughout Kings County to kick off 2019.
Overall, Atlantic Canada is poised for strong housing market performance in 2019 as economic performance ramps up, unemployment rates decline, and first-time buyer incentives at both provincial and federal government levels take hold, according to the RE/MAX 2019 Atlantic Canada Housing Market Report. The report found strong momentum in the larger urban centres, as well as spillover into several smaller markets. Home sales are on par or up in just under half the markets surveyed (7/15), likely due to the current shortage of inventory, while housing values have climbed in almost three-quarters (11/15) of the Atlantic Canadian markets surveyed.
While sales have fallen short of first-quarter figures for 2018 (107 units versus 91 in 2019), fewer homes overall have been listed for sale in 2019. Average price year-to-date has climbed to $215,684, a double-digit increase over the $180,440 reported during the same period in 2018. The Kings County housing market is now operating at the top-end of balanced, with just 270 active listings, down 15 per cent from 2018 levels for the same period. Recent incentives introduced by the federal government may prompt even tighter market conditions in the remainder of the year. Designed to increase homeownership, changes to the existing First-time Home Buyers Plan and the CMHC plan to lower mortgage costs are expected to place further pressure on both supply and housing values. Affordability has been a major draw to the Valley, with demand for properties from Wolfville to Kentville steadily increasing over the past decade. First-time buyers are especially active, with most seeking homes priced between $150,000 and $180,000. The number of buyers moving to Berwick continues to climb as demand for starter homes increase. The advent of vineyards, award-winning wineries, and micro-breweries has had a positive impact on the area, increasing its overall appeal. There are now approximately 20 wineries operating in the region, creating job opportunities for local residents and attracting tourism. Economic expansion has followed in lock-step, with organic markets, cafes and fine restaurants popping up in smaller centres, creating a hip new vibe. Empty-nesters and retirees have also staked a claim in Kings County, with one in five residents over the age of 65 according to Statscan’s 2016 Census Profile. The continuous stream of retirees from Ontario and Western Canada who are selling their homes and moving to Nova Scotia remain a significant factor in the local market. Many are ‘snowbirds’ who enjoy all areas of the valley, including waterfront living on the Bay of Fundy or one of the area’s freshwater lakes during the late spring to early fall, and then head down south during the winter months. The top end of the market is moving along at a healthy pace as well, with sales over $350,000 slightly ahead of last year’s levels. Properties with acreage are especially coveted. Healthy local economic fundamentals are expected to underpin Kings County residential real estate market for the remainder of the year, with both unit sales and average price expected to climb.