An influx of much-needed inventory is expected to return Saint John’s housing market to more balanced conditions in the coming months. Home sales in the first quarter of 2019, rising in lockstep with average prices. Low housing inventory has prompted urgency among homebuyers, with sellers reaping the rewards.

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.

Housing Activity in Saint John

Home sales in the first quarter of 2019 jumped 12 per cent to 354 units, up from 318 during the same period one year earlier. The average price of a home in the city rose in tandem, climbing one per cent to $179, 947, up from $177,622 in Q1 2018. Supply levels have been low throughout much of the first quarter, with new listings down around 28 per cent. The shortage has created some urgency in the market, with buyers feeling more pressure than in the past to put pen to paper. Existing homeowners are benefitting, with properties selling close to ask price. The market is tightest in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range — traditional move-up territory. Buyers looking to trade-up are having difficulties finding properties, especially in Milledgeville , Rothesay, and Quispamsis. Young families who want to be near schools are particularly impacted by limited inventory. Demand has also been climbing for properties in the historic Uptown Core. The area has undergone significant revitalization in recent years, offering up hip new shops, trendy restaurants with exposed brick and beams, and multi-unit housing developments. Investors, young professionals, and empty-nester represent the lion’s share of buyers in the area. Uptown Core is also home to Irving’s new headquarters, with many of the company’s 1,000 employees fuelling demand for housing product in the immediate vicinity. Uptown condominiums have attracted both young and old, with many seeking a more urban lifestyle.

Condominiums overall are a growing segment of the market and represent a first-step to homeownership. Condominium units in Saint John start at $100,000, compared to $150,000 to $200,000 for a single-detached home. Sales of high-end properties have also been robust during the first-quarter of the year, with 21 homes selling over the $400,000 price point, compared to 14 during the same period in 2018. The advent of the traditional spring market should bring more listings on-stream and hold price appreciation to about two per cent in 2019. Home sales in Saint John should hover at 1,950 units by year-end, on par with healthy levels reported in 2018.


Atlantic Canada Housing Market Highlights

  • First-time buyers were a driving force in almost 70 per cent of markets surveyed. (10/15)
  • Low inventory levels were reported in 80 per cent of markets. (12/15)
  • Home sales were strongest at starter price points ranging from $100,000 to $300,000.
  • Buyers from other parts of the country were active in 60 per cent of Atlantic Canada housing markets. (9/15)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick are seeing an influx of people returning home after working in Alberta’s oil sector.
  • Luxury sales were up in Halifax-Dartmouth, Saint John and Kings County.