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Real estate market on a high in Tantramar area

Wendy Olsen moved to Sackville last March with her husband Mike, opting to sell their small one-bedroom home in a busy metropolitan area in Brampton, Ont., and relocate to a more sizeable, 2,300-square foot house in the Maritimes.
Wendy Olsen moved to Sackville last March with her husband Mike, opting to sell their small one-bedroom home in a busy metropolitan area in Brampton, Ont., and relocate to a more sizeable, 2,300-square foot house in the Maritimes. - Contributed

Affordability, quality of life among top factors for new buyers

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It’s good news all around for those in the market to buy or sell a new home in the Tantramar region, as well as local realtors who are making those sales happen.

The real estate market has been soaring to new heights in the area over the past couple of years and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

“It’s very positive. It’s really in a good place,” says Jennifer Jones, a local realtor for Royal LePage Atlantic.

Jones says 2018 was a record year for sales, one of her busiest years yet, and 2019 is shaping up to be the same. She says she is already being run off her feet in January with showings.

“It’s very exciting,” says Jones, of the activity and buzz around the market in Sackville and surrounding area.

In particular, she notes the market is plentiful with out-of-town buyers coming from busier locales in Ontario, Quebec and Western Canada who are looking to settle in a more rural area.

 “It seems to be catching on that the Maritimes are affordable for young families who are looking for that quality of life.”

Whether it’s native Maritimers seeking a return to the area or newcomers looking to find a home in Atlantic Canada, or even those looking to purchase a summer home, the Tantramar region is attracting people of all ages – from young couples to families to retirees. Jones says many buyers are “seeing the bigger picture” and deciding to invest in Eastern Canada.

Wendy Olsen is one of those buyers. Olsen and her husband Mike moved to Sackville last March after opting to sell their small one-bedroom home in a busy metropolitan area in Brampton, Ont., and relocate to a more sizeable, 2,300-square foot house in the Maritimes,

“It’s so nice to have all this space,” says Olsen.

Olsen says it was a first-time visit to Nova Scotia with her sister in September 2017 that prompted the decision to move, noting it didn’t take her long upon her return to start looking for homes in Atlantic Canada.

“It was just so beautiful,” she says of the area.

Olsen said the prices of the homes were obviously a deciding factor as well, pointing out that it’s a lot easier to afford one in Sackville than in Brampton. And although she had to give up her job at a law firm in downtown Toronto, she now doesn’t have to worry about a busy commute and is able to work from home in Middle Sackville, working for an airline company.

“It’s a lot different here . . . but I love it,” she says.

Jamie Smith, a realtor with Re/MAX Sackville, says his sales also heated up in 2018 and is anticipating the coming year to be hectic as well.

“I’ve noticed a definite increase in the activity of the market in Sackville and surrounding areas,” says Smith.

He explains that while the market used to be dominated by people retiring to the area, or even those who were working jobs in the west and supporting families here, he has noticed a shift in the last two years. A large number of buyers are coming from Ontario and British Columbia and they’re younger, he says.

“We see a lot of people leaving larger cities for affordability and lifestyle, and Sackville seems to be a popular choice for young families,” says Smith.

James and Sarah-Lynn MacDonnell and their two children are one of many young families who made the decision to move to the Tantramar area from Ontario in 2018.
James and Sarah-Lynn MacDonnell and their two children are one of many young families who made the decision to move to the Tantramar area from Ontario in 2018.

He says the arts and culture of the area, the proximity to major centres like Moncton and Halifax, the natural beauty of the area and affordability are all drawing cards for the Tantramar region.

The number of sales has increased quite significantly in the area, with 126 homes sold in 2018 compared to 88 in 2014. In the town of Sackville alone, 97 single-family homes were sold last year, up from 65 just four years before.

Smith says the other good news is that homes are starting to sell closer to their listing prices, up 1.2 per cent from 2017 to 2018. In Sackville, the average home was priced at $172,492, compared to $154,889 the year before, with the list-price-to-sell price settling in at 94.6 per cent. For the Tantramar region, home prices were averaging at about $158,458 in 2018, compared to $139,645 in 2017, and were selling at their list price 94.3 per cent of the time.

Smith says one large deterring factor still remains in today’s real estate market, however, and that comes with rental properties.

“The tax rate for non-owner occupied properties is a large deterrent for a lot of the buyers looking to invest in rental properties or cottages in the area,” he says.

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