Halifax Index 2022

Real Estate

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You are viewing the 2022 Halifax Index.

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FAST ECONOMIC GROWTH = HOT REAL ESTATE MARKET

With Halifax’s economy and population seeing unprecedented growth, even through the pandemic, the real estate market in Halifax experienced supply shortages. However, with housing starts at the highest they have ever been (3,794 units) and more than 5,000 rental units currently under construction, growth in supply may soon alleviate pressures. In 2021, Halifax had one of the lowest mortgage delinquency rates among Canadian cities. This metric will warrant close attention in 2022 as interest rates rise.

Office and industrial vacancy rates moved in opposite directions in 2021. Office vacancy in Downtown Halifax was at 20.3% at year end, a 10-year high, while the industrial vacancy rate was 2.2%, the lowest on record. Investment declined for commercial buildings in 2021, but strong growth occurred in industrial, institutional, and government buildings.

Halifax Index 2022
Housing

Housing starts were the highest in history for the second consecutive year with 3,794 units, representing 16.8% annual growth for 2021. Completions also maintained pace with an annual growth rate of 6.3%, totalling 2,950 units.

Multi-unit starts dominated Halifax with a total of 2,859 units, up 28.0% over 2020. Apartments made up 2,568 of the total, the rest being semi-detached units and rowhouses. The peninsula led the way in multi-unit starts with a growth of 151.0% over 2020. In fact, 55.0% of all multi-unit starts were on the peninsula. Suburban and Rural Halifax accounted for 30.0% and 15.0% of the total, respectively. The reverse is true in terms of single-unit starts for which Rural Halifax was the hotspot. Of all single-unit starts in Halifax, 86.0% were in Rural Halifax. Overall, however, single-unit starts declined 8.0% in 2021.

The compound average growth rate (CAGR) of new-home prices in Halifax between 2001 and 2021 was 5.5%, and after annual growth of 10.2% in 2021, the average new home price reached a record high of $550,628. Despite the sharp increase, this remains more affordable than homes in benchmark cities like KCW1and Victoria. Also, for the first time, the average resale price was more than the average price of a new home in Halifax by about $12,000. This is likely due to increased activity in 2021 in the resale market, and the quality and location of homes in the resale market.

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Market Information Portal

Housing Starts and Completions

  • 2021 saw the highest number of housing starts in Halifax’s history at 3,794 units, up 16.8% over 2020.
  • The year also marked the second-highest number of completions in the last decade with 2,950 units, 6.3% growth over 2020.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: STARTS-COMPLETIONS.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Market Information Portal

Single-Unit Housing Starts by Region

  • 86.0% (805) of all single-unit housing starts were in the rural areas of Halifax. Suburban Halifax saw 118 single-unit starts while 12 were on the peninsula.
  • The combined 935 single-unit starts in Halifax were the second-most since 2013. (2020 had 1,019 starts.)

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: SINGLE-UNITS.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Market Information Portal

Multi-Unit Housing Starts by Region

  • 2021 saw multi-unit starts in Halifax grow by 28%, 629 more than 2020, to a total of 2,859.
  • Apartments accounted for most of the activity (90%). Semi-detached and rowhouses made up 4% and 6%, respectively.
  • 1,563 starts were on the peninsula, followed by Suburban Halifax with 866 and Rural Halifax with 430.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: MULTI-UNITS.XLSX

*Data are unavailable for St. John’s; Newfoundland and Labrador prices were used as a proxy.
Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Market Information Portal and Conference Board of Canada, Metropolitan Resale Snapshot (2021)

Average vs Resale Home Prices

  • The average resale price overtook the average new-home price for the first time in Halifax. Factors such as the quality and location of homes and higher activity in the resale market throughout 2021 may have contributed to this.
  • New homes in Halifax remain the third-most affordable across benchmark cities at $550,628 despite a 10.2% increase over the 2020 average.
  • Average resale prices increased 29% to $562,778. Although high, this is still lower than the 39% increase in KCW. The absolute value also remains lower than both KCW and Victoria.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: HOME-PRICES.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Market Information Portal

Average New Home Prices

  • From 2001 to 2021, Halifax’s average price for new homes has had a compound annual growth rate of 5.5%.
  • The 10.2% increase in new-home prices in 2021 was the highest since 2015 when prices rose 11.6%.
  • The average price for new homes reached an all-time high of $550,628.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: LONG-TERM-PRICES.XLSX

Halifax Index 2022
Renting

Halifax’s recent population boom, even through the pandemic, has put great pressure on the rental market. In 2021, both the population and the city’s rental inventory grew by 2.1%. Furthermore, there were about 5,900 apartments under construction in Halifax as of January 2022.


Average rent in 2021 was the highest on record at $1,247 across all apartment types, an increase of 6.3% over 2020. The largest increase in rent was seen for 3-bedroom apartments (7.6%) and 1-bedrooms (6.7%).

Across regions within Halifax, although the peninsula has highest rents for bachelor, 1-, and 3-bedroom apartments, Rural Halifax has the highest rent for 2-bedroom apartments.

The vacancy rate in Halifax was 1.0% in 2021, tied for the lowest across benchmark cities. Within Halifax, Dartmouth East had the highest overall vacancy rate at 2.2% while the lowest was in Rural Halifax at 0.6%.

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Housing Market Information Portal

Residential Rent and Vacancy Rates

  • After an increase to 1.9% in 2020, the vacancy rate dropped back to 1.0% in 2021. This is the lowest rate on record, tied with the 2019 rate.
  • Average rent across all apartments in 2021 was $1,247. This is a 6.3% increase over 2020.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: RENT-AND-VACANCY.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Rental Market Report (Various)

Average Rent by Region

  • Average overall apartment rents remained the highest in the rural areas of Halifax at $1,422. This area also had the highest average rent for 2-bedroom apartments.
  • Suburban Halifax had the lowest average rent in the municipality at $1,182. This area had the lowest average rent across all apartment types with $690 for bachelor apartments, and, on the other end, $1,322 for 3+ bedroom apartments.
  • Although Rural Halifax had a higher overall average, the peninsula had the highest average rents across three apartment types. A 2-bedroom apartment had an average of $1,367 and a 3-bedroom was $1,647 on average. Bachelors and 1-bedrooms went on average for $930 and $1,149, respectively.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: RENT-BY-REGION.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Rental Market Report (2021)

Comparative Rent and Vacancy Rates

  • Across benchmark cities, average rent was the third highest in Halifax at $1,247, lower than KCW ($1,305) and Victoria ($1,332).
  • Halifax was tied for the lowest vacancy rate with Victoria at 1.0%. However, there are currently 5,906 apartments under construction in Halifax, which will play a role in easing rental pressures.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: BENCHMARK-CITIES.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Rental Market Report (2021)

Comparative Rent by Apartment Size

  • Across benchmark cities, Halifax had the third-highest average rent for every apartment type, behind Victoria and KCW who had the most and second-most expensive rents, respectively, for every apartment type.
  • The spread for average rent between bachelor and 3+ bedroom apartments in Halifax was $667. The lowest was seen in St. John’s at $253, while the largest spread was in Victoria where the difference was $932.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: APARTMENT-SIZES.XLSX

Halifax Index 2022
Mortgages

As discussed later in the debt subsection , non-mortgage delinquency rates were at historic lows (0.93%) by the end of 2021. Mortgage delinquency rates were even lower. Between 2016 and 2021, the average mortgage delinquency rate in Halifax declined 0.34 points to 0.20% -- the largest drop across benchmark cities.

This decline should be viewed in the specific context of 2021, however: interest rates remained at historically low levels and extraordinary income supports were available due to the pandemic. As well, mortgage forbearances (agreements between lenders and delinquent borrowers), credit repayment programs, and interest-deferral programs no doubt influenced the low delinquency rates.

Moreover, the average monthly repayment amount in Halifax was the second lowest among all benchmark cities at $1,188. The monthly average peaked in 2018 at $1,223. This lower amount could be a result of buyers in Halifax offering larger down payments, taking out shorter-term loans, or having higher credit scores. Mortgages make up 64.8% of all outstanding debt in Halifax. This is the lowest across benchmark cities and lower than the national figure.

The second-largest share of outstanding debt in Halifax was “all other credit.” Credit cards make up 5.4% of the total outstanding and 10.6% of the monthly payments due. Note, though, that some people use their credit cards to pay for most household expenses but fully pay off the bill each month, which would contribute to a higher monthly amount due but would not result in interest charges or increased debt beyond the current month.

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Mortgage and Debt Data (Various)

Mortgage Delinquency Rate

  • After hitting a peak of 0.53% in 2016, the annual mortgage delinquency rate in Halifax fell to 0.21% in 2021-- the largest decline (-0.32) across all benchmark cities over the 5-year period.
  • Halifax has the third-lowest mortgage delinquency rate across benchmark cities and is 0.01% lower than the national rate. The highest rate is in Regina (0.53%) and the lowest is in KCW (0.09%).

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: MORTGAGE-DELINQUENCY-RATE.XLSX

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Mortgage and Debt Data (Various)

Average Monthly Mortgage Payment

  • Halifax has had the second-lowest monthly mortgage payments since 2012, with a 10-year average of $1,163 between 2012 and 2021. The highest annual averages are in Victoria.
  • The monthly payment amount in Halifax has grown by an average of 0.4% per year to an average of $1,188 in 2021.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: MORTGAGE-PAYMENTS.XLSX

*HELOC stands for Home Equity Line of Credit

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Mortgage and Debt Data (Q4 2021)

Outstanding Debt and Payments by Source

  • Mortgages make up the largest (64.8%) proportion of debt balance in Halifax as of Q4 2021. In Q1 2020, the share of mortgages was 61.0% to total debt balance, a 3.7 percentage point increase in 2 years.
  • The proportion of outstanding debt balance on HELOCs decreased between Q1 2017 and Q4 2021 by 2.6 percentage points.
  • At 5.4%, Halifax and St. John’s have the highest share of the outstanding balance on credit cards across benchmark cities. Over 10% of monthly payments due are for credit cards. It is important to keep in mind though that some people put household expenses on their credit cards but pay the charges in full every month.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: OUTSTANDING-DEBT.XLSX

Halifax Index 2022
Non-Residential

Overall construction activity did not decline as many feared at the outset of the pandemic due in part to construction work being deemed an essential service. However, as 2021 rolled in with more contagious and severe mutations of COVID-19, investment in non-residential building construction declined (-12.1%). The aggregate decline is attributable to lower investment in commercial building construction ( -28.5%). Investment in industrial (+127.9%) and institutional and government buildings (+71.0%) grew.

Although investment levels declined in 2021, the value of building permits issued for work on non-residential buildings increased by 38.3%. In fact, the value of permits had been falling annually since 2018 (the earliest available data point). Almost all permits were issued for either new construction projects or improvements, with neither having a constant quarterly share.

However, in 2021, $24.1 million worth of permits, 7.3%, were issued for work unrelated to new construction or improvements, including conversions from non-residential to residential buildings.

Halifax’s overall office vacancy rate was 15.4% at the end of 2021, with the downtown and suburban rates at 20.3% and 12.0%, respectively. However, the average net rent has also been declining quarter over quarter, and Halifax ended 2021 with a net absorption2of 12,435 sq.ft., resulting in a lower vacancy rate over 2020. The industrial availability rate was 2.2% in Q4 of 2021, an all-time low, dropping 0.4 percentage points in just one quarter. Consequently, the average net rent for industrial space has reached an all-time high at $8.40 psf.

Source: Statistics Canada, Investment in Construction, Table 34-10-0175-01

Investment in Non-Residential Building Construction

  • After increasing 1.6% in 2020, investment in building construction fell 12.1% in 2021. Total investment was recorded at $284.9 million, 37.3% lower than the decade-high value seen in 2013.
  • Investment in industrial, and institutional and governmental building construction increased by $25.8 million (+127.9%) and $15.4 million (+71.1%), respectively.
  • Investment in commercial building construction declined $80.5 million (-28.5%) in 2021. The total investment value, $201.7 million, was the lowest since 2016.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: INVESTMENT-IN-CONSTRUCTION.XLSX

Source: Statistics Canada, Building Permits, Table 34-10-0066-01

Non-Residential Building Permits by Type of Work

  • 61.5% of non-residential permits issued in 2021 were for new construction, and 31.2% were for improvements. The total value of permits issued in 2021 was the highest in Statistics Canada records, 38.3% (+$92.1 million) above the 2020 value.
  • Most permits issued were for new construction or improvements. Out of the 16 previous quarters, only 5 had permits issued for other work. 2021 saw the highest value of building permits issued for work unrelated to new construction or improvements at $24.1 million. These include conversions, deconversions, and additions.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: BUILDING-PERMITS.XLSX

Source: CBRE, Office MarketView (Various)

Office Rent and Vacancy Rates by Region

  • In Q4 2021, the overall vacancy rate in Halifax stood at 15.4%, with average net rent at $15.36 psf. • At year-end 2021, Halifax’s downtown vacancy rate was 20.3%, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 4.6 percentage points higher than the national average.
  • The 12.0% suburban vacancy rate was also lower than both the rate from a year ago (-1.0 percentage points) and the national average (-3.8 percentage points).
  • Although the net average downtown rent hit a 6-year high in Q2 2021 at $16.35, there was essentially no change between the fourth quarters of 2020 and 2021, at $16.30 psf.
  • Suburban average net rent increased $0.30 between 2020 and 2021, reaching the highest average in 6 years at $14.17 psf.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: OFFICE-MARKET.XLSX

Source: CBRE, Industrial MarketView (Various)

Industrial Rent and Availability Rates

  • After successive declines since Q3 2020, the industrial availability rate was 2.2% at the end of 2021, the lowest ever. The national average was 1.8%, also a historic low.
  • With availability rates dropping to their lowest levels, prices for industrial real-estate reached record highs. Average net rent increased 2.4% over Q4 2021 to $8.40 psf. Average rent in Halifax, though, remains lower than the national average of $10.47 psf. There are, however, 113,280 sq. ft. under construction in the city, which should mitigate future price increases.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: INDUSTRIAL-MARKET.XLSX

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