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Mortgage 101 – The Halifax Real Estate Landscape | October 23rd

Clinton Wilkins and Todd Veinotte chat with realtor James Dwyer about the real estate market trends in Halifax, increased competition amongst buyers, the state of entry level homes, popular buying locations and areas that are slept on. Plus, what should you look for when choosing a realtor?

Todd Veinotte 00:04
Mortgage 101 your guide to homeownership. Hopefully, everybody’s enjoying the show. We got lots more to talk about. And we’re going to be talking to James Dwyer as well, a local realtor, correct?

Clinton Wilkins 00:14
Yes, we are. I think James, we have James on the line. James. Hello.

Todd Veinotte 00:19
Hey, James how excited were you when we gave you a call when we told you that we wanted to have you on the show? I mean, if you were already about a 5 or a 7 out of 10, did it take you to an 11 out of 10?

James Dwyer 00:31
I don’t know if you can get to 11. But definitely a solid 10 out of no doubt.

Todd Veinotte 00:35
Alright good stuff, good stuff.

The fall real estate market in Halifax

Clinton Wilkins 00:36
And it’s fall into homeownership right now. Fall is a great time to talk real estate. And we really are waiting to hear your, you know, advice on what’s going on here in the market. This fall season. You know, fall is a very interesting time, I think. And, you know, we just want to get some of your insights.

James Dwyer 00:54
Yeah. So, you know, I think take taking this back with a little bit of a step here that, you know, since, you know, we had the big jump in in last year, you know, prices have remained relatively steady throughout, throughout the entire year here, and volume has definitely picked up I think a big part of the environment situation right now is that a lot of people have started to kind of adjust to the environment, that that shock and awe effect is kind of worn off now. And you know, we’re starting to see a big push back in from first time homebuyers coming back into the marketplace. We’re starting to see a little bit of more of the, you know, upgrading to the, you know, to the bigger family home, you know, the long term purchase. And, yeah, it’s it’s definitely, definitely good to see the activity kind of returning right now.

Todd Veinotte 01:43
Yeah okay so the market itself, is it somewhat unpredictable? Or is it at this point in your career can you kind of predict it? Or never is it always kind of, cause you never know whats gonna happen.

Changing buyer strategies and increased competition

James Dwyer 01:53
You know, I mean, the last couple years have been very unpredictable, for sure. But, you know, the fundamentals of how the ebb and flow of our market works hasn’t really changed. So, you know, you get that strong spring, that strong fall market, you know, that, it’s definitely a galvanizing factor in the market. Things like, you know, interest rate changes, and all those, you know, those are temporary, but you know, the overall kind of, you know, movement in the market in the spring and fall, and like I said, now that, you know, things have kind of settled down quite a bit, we’re starting to see a big return on on the buying side.

Clinton Wilkins 02:27
Now, we’re seeing more people getting accepted offers now, and I think some of these people that we had pre-approved over the last two and three years, there was some fatigue from first time homebuyers, because you know, they were coming into these situations where there was just so many multiple offers. Give us a little insight on what’s going on, you know, with the properties that are listed. Are we seeing multiple offers, like, where is that competition? Like, what is it looking like right now?

James Dwyer 02:53
Overall, in the marketplace, we are still seeing a little bit of competition, primarily, in the kind of entry level. Obviously, it being the biggest portion of the buying pool. And again, it’s one of our, you know, weaker areas for inventory, we still see the competition here. But you know, the good news on that is, you know, buyers have become much more savvy and a lot more conscious of pricing, we’re starting to see a lot more kind of a studying of the market, setting up the prices, you know, understanding what it takes now, and, you know, we’re not seeing any more of these outrageously over asking prices. Very much more reserved, and conservative. And, you know, I think that’s, I think that’s a win for everybody.

Entry level home prices in Nova Scotia

Todd Veinotte 03:36
What would you consider an entry level home are now realistically, for price and talking?

James Dwyer 03:42
Yeah, for price, I would say you’re probably in that, you know, around 400, you know, pre pandemic, it was around two and a quarter or so. So the way I kind of look at it now with the, you know, the floor pricing has kind of forever changed. But when you kind of get into the higher end stuff, we’re starting to see a little bit of a lag in the marketplace, certainly not nearly as much activity as there once was.

Todd Veinotte 04:04
Define higher end. What are you talking? 750?

James Dwyer 04:08
Kind of in that 1 million plus range, or 750 plus kind of range. The buying pool, obviously has always been a smaller buying pool. And I think interest rates may have had, just made that buying go a little bit more smaller.

Clinton Wilkins 04:21
Yeah, I would definitely agree with that James. It seems like and I think you can speak to the medium mark, but I think the medium price is somewhere in the five, five and a quarter or 540, 550. And, you know, those seem to be you know, that’s hot. I think, at the kind of entry level, there’s not as many actually happening. And I think the ones that do happen, either the property needs a lot of work or it’s going into a more rural type of setting. And it seems these 5 and 600,000. Like that’s where the most activity I’ll say 4 to 600,000 seems to be kind of the most.

James Dwyer 04:52
Yep. Seems to be the best spot right now.

Clinton Wilkins 04:53
The ones that are buying 600,000 to a million. These people are still getting a mortgage. Right. And I think with getting a mortgage and where the rates are, these are often people not buying their first home. Usually they’re selling another home, and they’re buying this new property. And I think some of these buyers are just like, you know want, we have a low rate or we have a decent amount of, you know, mortgage owing on our existing, we’re gonna stay the course right now in our existing home versus buying up. Are you seeing that? Like are you seeing that first time homebuyers buying, but the people that are buying up, maybe slowing? Is that kind of what you’re saying?

James Dwyer 05:27
Yeah, definitely. I mean, when you look at that kind of scenario, we definitely see where, you know, a homeowner may be, you know, say they purchase house last couple of years, you know, they’re still kind of on the tail end of their pre existing term. And you know, the math, so if that making sense to want to make the upgrade, then more money, and then then changing interest rates. And so that can be a little bit more difficult pill to swallow. So we are starting to see a little bit of a pause there say, hey, you know what, I’ll wait a year, I’ll wait six months or whatever that term of that mortgage is, and reevaluate the market, reevaluate my house.

Hot buying areas and hidden gem locations in Halifax

Todd Veinotte 05:59
James, when you talk about residences, areas that are really, really kind of hot, but in that affordable range, is it, often in places like where I live Springfield I think perhaps that might be one of those neighbourhoods, but certainly not the only one. Timberlea might come to mind. What are some areas where you’re seeing kind of that 4 to $600,000 density going on?

James Dwyer 06:26
Definitely you got two of the key pieces there. Also throwing in Cole Harbour is a really good, attractive area for that price point. When we get into I want to say the kind of older section of Bedford like in behind Bedford up in kind of like Hammonds Plains into the Bedford area there starting to see a little bit of, I think Hatchet Lake is another really great area, Herring Cove, Sambro. And then even, I still think, to this day, the Musquodoboit Harbour area is probably one of the more undervalued areas in entire city. And I think there’s a good buys in that area a little bit more of a drive.

Clinton Wilkins 07:08
Yeah I guess it just depends on how rural you want to be. Because, you know, we’re seeing you know, first time homebuyers willing to go to Windsor or Truro. And I have I have

James Dwyer 07:20
Do you know how many people that work in Burnside that live in Truro?

Balancing location and quality of life

Clinton Wilkins 07:23
Seriously. I think there’s a balance between going further and further out of town and your transportation costs. Because obviously, as we know, if you’re gonna live that far out, it’s gonna cost you a few bucks to do the commute. But maybe the cost of real estate is, you know, offsetting that higher transportation cost maybe. And another, I call this may be a little bit strange and it’s something that I’ve not experienced in 17 years of being a mortgage broker. But I’m seeing first time homebuyers moving to areas like New Glasgow. Because there’s still a lot of services. It’s kind of hip, but the prices are just low. And now I know, James, you don’t work necessarily in that area, you’re primarily like Halifax and surrounding areas. But are you talking to customers that, you know, really have a much wider kind of net in terms of geographic location?

James Dwyer 08:13
Yeah, definitely so I mean, you know, and again, it comes down to that, you know, that flooring of pricing. You know, the big thing that I do see here in Nova Scotia, is that when it comes to a first time buyer, I mean, sure, you know, in most cases, they can afford to live in the city, but, you know, they also want, you know, certain luxuries of life, you know, and things to be able to do that require money. So, you know, they there is, say, Hey, I’ve got to keep her house, I got to commute longer. But you know what, I can do the vacations, I can do the holidays, I can do other things, right? So it’s all about that quality of life.

Clinton Wilkins 08:46
And I think maybe some people are still working at home. You know, I go to the office every day, but not everybody is and I that’s one thing I kind of, you know, forget about is the way people work today is different than the way people worked three years ago. Like that’s just reality, and the customers that you’re dealing with every day, do see more people that are still working at home? Because obviously you you’re with a lot more than I’m with people, I’m with people a couple hours, right? You’re with some people like 40 hours, so you really get to know them right. I mean, tell me what the situation is.

James Dwyer 09:21
I’ve had clients coming in, came over BC work from home, you know, so so they, you know, they took advantage of you know, some of the more cheaper ocean properties here. You know, I would say to you, about two thirds of my buyer side, you know, at least one of the two partners are still are working from home.

Clinton Wilkins 09:38

Todd Veinotte 09:39
What about the North in Halifax James?

James Dwyer 09:42
You know, I’ll be honest with you, you know, it’s always been a strong market in there.

Clinton Wilkins 09:48
Are there any listings in the north end? Because the listings are few and far between on the peninsula I think.

James Dwyer 09:54
Yeah, they there and as far as the North end goes, I mean, I think once we kind of get this whole Cogswell Exchange, all that kind of stuff kind of sorted out I think you’re gonna see almost another bump into values more then as it’s welcomed back into the downtown core. I think that’s what’s gonna flourish from whether it’s businesses or homes and that sort of stuff.

Clinton Wilkins 10:12
Well I think the North End is pretty much downtown now. You know, you used to always say like North Street, North was North End but like all of that is so urban.

Clinton Wilkins 10:23
Yeah, that’s right. Argyle and all that’s all close by there right?

Clinton Wilkins 10:25

Todd Veinotte 10:26
Agricola, sorry.

Clinton Wilkins 10:27
It’s all like so you know, high on demand. Yeah, I see maybe like West End being more like outside the core, but I think like South End, downtown, north end is really all still really in the core of the city.

James Dwyer 10:40
It is 100%.

Clinton Wilkins 10:41
And you know what, we see buyers that, I know there’s still not a lot of listings, but I know you said Musquodoboit was like the maybe the most undervalued, but I think even close to Halifax, Armidale is like a little best kept secret.

Todd Veinotte 10:53
What about Clayton Park, you don’t hear much about that.

Clinton Wilkins 10:56
Kinda like the old Clayton Park?

Todd Veinotte 10:57
Yeah, old Clayton Park

James Dwyer 10:58
Old Clayton park all the way. Yeah, I mean, you’ve got that 50s 60s architecture all throughout that area.

James Dwyer 11:02
Yeah that’s totally cool. Those subdivisions are nice.

Clinton Wilkins 11:03
I’ve seen some really good models in Clayton Park, and they look really, really good. Again. So close to the peninsula. And you know if you can deal with that, maybe that slight commute or that Bedford Highway?

Todd Veinotte 11:04
Or you could go up Dunbrack. If you wanted to do Dunbrack for the commute. And then down the Bayer’s Road.

How to pick a realtor

Clinton Wilkins 11:22
Yeah, totally. So I think like these, there’s some certain pockets of the city that sometimes people do not think about. And that’s why it’s so important, I think, to work with a realtor that you trust. So James, we’re gonna give you the last word. Like, tell me about how you pick a realtor.

Todd Veinotte 11:37
Real quick.

James Dwyer 11:38
Real quick. I’m picking a realtor, I think the fundamental thing you have to do is sit down with at least three real estate agents, you know, have a lengthy discussion, you know, find out what services are being provided. And more importantly, make sure that somebody that you can mesh with somebody that you know, that you know, you can entrust your purchase to be handled in such a way that your best interests are represented.

Todd Veinotte 11:59
Okay, James Dwyer great stuff. Thanks so much, my friend.

James Dwyer 12:02
Alright take care, guys.

Clinton Wilkins 12:03
Thanks, James.

Todd Veinotte 12:04
Okay, talk soon. Mortgage 101 continues, we’ll be back.

Clinton Wilkins 12:16
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