AMHERST – Amherst is a cheap place to buy a house.
Coldwell Banker has released the results of their annual survey of cross-Canada real estate prices. They looked at prices for four bedroom-two bath homes in more than 70 markets across the country, and Amherst came fifth (in first place, and the least expensive, was Windsor, ON).
A home that size in Amherst averaged $224,662. In the Maritimes, only New Glasgow was cheaper, at $218,641.
Jamie Smith, a salesperson with Remax in Amherst, said there are lots of local homes in that price range.
“(It’s) a buyer’s market,” he said.
Smith said he’s encountered lots of cash buyers this year. Most, if not all, have returned from out west, knowing their dollar will go a lot further here. He’s even encountered buyers who’ve inflated in their own minds just how inexpensive it is buying a home here.
Homes priced $125,000 to $150,000 are the most popular, according to the salesperson, and the next most popular segment is the low- to mid-200s. Homes north of $400,000 are a narrow market. (Straddling that number on the survey was Cambridge, ON, at $396,738, and Calgary, at $409,900.)
A four bedroom-two bath isn’t the most popular request.
“Most people are looking for three bedroom,” he said. One-and-a-half baths are usually enough.
Rod Gilroy, broker and owner of Royal LePage, said we’ve avoided the spikes in real estate values experienced in urban centres. Local homes are appreciating at an average of three or three-and-a-half per cent. Halifax experienced increases in the teens last year, according to Gilroy.
The broker related a story: The other day he had a customer come in who had returned from out west. He’d sold his 980 sq. ft. condo there, and bought a 3,000 sq. ft. new home here.
The lower midrange of homes, which Gilroy said covers from about $145,000 to $165,000, is typically purchased by a young couple. The purchaser of a category he said spanned $175,000 to $250,000 is typically older and buying their second home.
“There’s signs of life,” said Chris Morash, a local broker with Coldwell Banker.
He was talking about the local real estate market. He said there are deals for buyers, but it’s not all doom and gloom for sellers.
Morash guessed the average home here goes for about $150,000. Four bedroom-four baths, the type described in his company’s survey, are likely to be new builds. He explained that it’s a reflection of the expense of building any new home, period.
“It’s harder to build a small new house…and make it economical,” he said.
The broker thinks it’s still possible to get into a decent home in Amherst for $100,000.
“I think it’s a feather in our cap,” said Gilroy.
Amherst has made positive changes over the last 10 to 15 years, according to him.
“We have a lot to offer,” he said, citing infrastructure investments in things ranging from a new hospital to new schools.
The next step, according to Gilroy, is to get people here.