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Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 4:35 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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For better or worse, urbanization is arriving in pockets of Halifax

This article in the Chronicle Herald reads a little like a real estate ad, but I think it sums up what I've been noticing as the general trend in Halifax:

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/bu...alifax-245988/

Quote:
For better or worse, urbanization is arriving in pockets of Halifax
Karalee Clerk
Published: Oct 02 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated: Oct 02 at 12:05 a.m.

Tanya Colbo is a familiar face to North End residents. There’s hardly a shop that doesn’t have a stack of her real estate cards at the cash or doesn’t see her in person at some point during the week. A resident in the area for a decade, she’s verging on being ubiquitous to the North End. Not only does she live there, she’s been helping to buy and sell North End homes for three years. We caught up with Tanya to get the skinny on the area and what’s going on with the market, right now.
The way it was…

When I started my career in 2015, the housing market wasn’t so great. I’d been paying attention since the 2012 announcement of the shipbuilding contract, which was expected to stimulate the market. That project didn’t start for two years, and when it did, those who moved here for it weren’t buying homes. They were renting. Meanwhile, new condominium developments were capturing the downsizers who were selling their homes, and young people were still leaving the province. The market went way down in 2013 and stay flat right through until 2017.
And then came 2018…

At the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, there were signs the market was on the rise, but it was a little difficult to see because it had been a buyers’ market for so long. There was a huge amount of unsold inventory available, 13 months worth in fact. And now, a little over a year later, we’re down to eight months, which is the lowest it’s been for five years. It’s flipped to a sellers’ market, and there’s no sign of a slowdown. It’s continuing into the fall season, and we expect it’ll carry through to spring 2019 and beyond. While it’s exciting because it’s been a long time coming, it also means buyers have to be prepared to jump on properties quickly.
North End, then and now…

Even through the down-market, I noticed something going on in my North End neighbourhood. It felt different, like it was starting to head towards the big time. When I first moved there a decade ago, it didn’t feel much like a neighbourhood. I had to travel to do everything because amenities for shopping, eating out or socializing just weren’t there. In 2013, EDNA opened and that seemed to begin a shift in people’s attitudes and perspectives. I was actually the very first person hired at EDNA, and I’m black. Embracing the diversity of the neighbourhood opened something up for those who lived there and those who didn’t. Nightlife followed, and eventually more shops and restaurants arrived, both to serve residents and attract others to the North End. With the increased activity and more people coming and going, the real estate market picked up as well.
The North End market looks like this…

The North End has evolved into a really artistic community, similar to downtown Dartmouth. Right now, homes there are more in demand than anywhere else in the city, and their house-list ratio – which is what you ask for a home and what you get – is 98 per cent. That’s the highest anywhere in the city. Homes sell fast, sometimes in the first week or on the first viewing, and the pace isn’t slowing. Course that’s true of housing sales elsewhere as well, in part due to the shift from a buyers’ to a sellers’ market.
Choosing the North End…

The condo demand has been well met in the North End, and there’s a good mix, but houses are definitely more in demand. Young families are moving in, couples without kids and people who are single. The big appeal is about having a home with character within a vibrant local community. There’s also a demand for walkability, and the North End has fantastic walkability scores. There’s definitely an average age looking to live here, generally in their 30s to 40s. The reason it isn’t younger is because the price point is going up, though when you go farther north, say by Leeds, you can get still a great house in the $250,000 range.
What the perfect house looks like…

Buyers are looking for a home they don’t have to do anything too much with for a while. Less people these days want reno work though they still want character, albeit a little more modern and without the hassle. They want the good bones you find with an older home, but they don’t want to deal with serious fix ups – though they don’t mind stripping wallpaper or ‘some day’ pulling out a kitchen. People can get that character in the North End, minus the headache because 10 years ago, many bought fixer-uppers for low prices and then gutted and reno’d them. They added proper insulation, updated electrical and more modern kitchens and bathrooms, while keeping the character. Today, these houses are hot.
And the urbanization fever is spreading…

What’s happened to the North End is moving toward Central. Agricola is the new Barrington Street, and the demand is creeping into the West End too. You can see it on Duncan, Allan and Lawrence, already popular streets that are becoming more in demand as restaurants and businesses settle in and stay. Hunter and Clifton, by Studio East, are considered funky, up and coming streets, and we’re seeing values there on the rise. It’s great times all the way around.
Top North End Stats…

In the last quarter, properties in the NE sold in an average of 44 days, while the HRM average is 63 days.
These North End properties sold for $100 more per square foot than the HRM average.
In 2018, North End homes have sold at a higher list-to-sales price ratio than the average home in HRM (98.13 compared to 96.69 in 2018)
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 5:01 PM
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I think neighbourhood vitality is an example of an area where there really is such a thing as critical mass. A neighbourhood in the wrong side of that has low pedestrian traffic, few businesses, and feels dead. But if it gets busier a virtuous cycle can become entrenched and cause more people to walk around or visit, more businesses to open up, and more investment to happen.

The way this phenomenon works suggests that relatively big changes can happen quickly in places that were just below the threshold and then developed or somehow improved (population density, public engagement, and spending up). I think the North End fits this description.

Halifax is going to feel significantly larger and more interesting when the commercial corridors around the North End really fill in and become interesting enough to attract lots of visitors.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 5:53 PM
eastcoastal eastcoastal is offline
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... Halifax is going to feel significantly larger and more interesting when the commercial corridors around the North End really fill in and become interesting enough to attract lots of visitors.
Agreed - there are still some significant holes on Agricola where deferred maintenance on crappy old buildings still has its legacy. I hope that these holes are filled with small-ish scale infill and we don't see whole blocks wiped out and redeveloped.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2018, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by eastcoastal View Post
Agreed - there are still some significant holes on Agricola where deferred maintenance on crappy old buildings still has its legacy. I hope that these holes are filled with small-ish scale infill and we don't see whole blocks wiped out and redeveloped.
The fine-grained changes that happened around Agricola and Charles are a pretty good blueprint for the whole street. Right now it seems to be left up to fate whether we get more of that style or more land assembly and envelope-maximizing development. What should be happening in this area is taller development on a few sites and lots of retention and enhancement of pedestrian-scaled character along the main streets.

I think the whole area around Gottingen and Agricola has the potential to become a great neighbourhood that is nationally renowned, at least among people who like that sort of thing. And it could be (even more of) a magnet for young people. It is arguably the only neighbourhood of its kind, because Halifax is the only city in the region big enough for that type of district.
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