No Room at the Inn | HRM rental properties continue to be in high demand in 2019
HRM rental properties continue to be in high demand in 2019
Typically, when a product is in high demand, it is a good thing for the market. It promotes healthy competition, but that’s not the case for Nova Scotia tenants who are looking to find an apartment or home to rent. There are simply too few properties and too many people looking, says Jessica Sherman, Vice President, Property Management for TreePad Property Management in Dartmouth.
“The Halifax housing market is booming. Prices hit record highs in the HRM this year,” Sherman says. And according to the Canadian Real Estate Associate (CREA), the growth rate is actually higher than other urban centres in Canada. In fact, in October of this year, Halifax house prices were up 12.1 per cent compared to the same month last year, and this seller’s market is showing no sign of slowing down.
“This is certainly a great time to sell your home, which is part of the reason rental properties are hard to find right now,” explains Sherman. When housing prices were down, it made sense for homeowners to hold on to their properties and rent them out until the market improved, she adds.
By the end of September 2019, the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR) said there were just over 2,000 houses on the market in the HRM, and they were selling fast, most with competing offers. In October 2017, the average house price in Halifax was $296,501, in October 2018 it fell slightly to $296,419 but right now, the average price is $322,141, according to CREA.
“With housing prices so high, homeowners are taking advantage and selling while the market is hot.” But, this also means the number of rental properties are dwindling at a time when the HRM’s population rates are soaring.
In 2011, the population of Halifax census reported 390,328. Today, it is 410,816 and growing, which is great for the economy and the province in general, but the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) latest 2018 rental market report showed the rental vacancy rate was at 1.6 per cent in October, down from the previous year at 2.3 per cent. The CMHC report further showed that despite close to 1,700 new rental units added to the market and another historic 3,626 rental apartments under construction in the HRM, demand is still outnumbering supply.
Add to this that the increasing demand for rental properties has not surprisingly caused a rise in rental rates (an average $1,143/month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,830/month for two or more bedrooms), according to Rentals.ca, and the chances of finding a property, let alone one that is affordable, have gotten even worse for potential renters.
The upside to this says Sherman, is that for homeowners that are still wanting to rent their properties, there are plenty of eager tenants looking to rent, it’s just a matter of finding the right tenant for their property. “This is where TreePad comes in,” she adds.
“We work with both potential tenants and homeowners to help them find the best options. We are a full-service property-management company, which means we not only specialize in finding rentals for tenants, but we also work with landlords to help them find good, solid tenants, which means everyone is happy.”
Sherman says one of the more challenging issues in a market where so few rentals are available is finding suitable student housing, especially in a province that boasts so many universities and colleges.
“With so many students looking to live off campus, it can be really hard for students who don’t really know the city, where to look or even how to find suitable housing in a safe area, which is one of the reasons we specialise in student rentals,” Sherman says.
The other problem students and renters in general, are finding, is that properties that are listed for rent online are usually gone within a day, or hours in some cases.
“With so few properties available, you need to start looking as soon as possible. Ideally, you should start at least three months in advance,” she says.
Sherman adds that student rentals can be especially difficult because not everyone wants to rent to students and the rental term can be challenging, which is why it is typically easier to work with a management company whenever possible because they understand the market and will have properties geared specifically to students.
“I also work with a company [Greener Project Developments Inc.] that is specifically building housing for students with all of their unique needs in mind. They are launching a new project in Antigonish in the spring and have plans to start in Wolfville next,” she says.