Dartmouth resident Brenda MacKenzie has been working in real estate for 24 years. She’s been at Domus for 21 of those years and has seen the local housing market gradually climb. “We’re never priced out of the typical marketplace. In Toronto and Vancouver the market has a pressure to it. We’re just steady as she goes.”
The Coast: Are we seeing a change in the housing market right now?
Brenda MacKenzie: Today, 2012, we're going to start to see something happen differently. I feel a different energy. An optimism. That's what can breed the marketplace.
TC: And with the announcement of the shipbuilding contract, have you noticed the change since then?
BM: The change I see is an optimism and a confidence boost. That translates to people feeling OK. We can move forward, it's not all doom and gloom. People are taking steps. There's that worry: "If we don't do something now, we might get priced out of our own marketplace." It will push some people to think a little harder about purchasing. With interest rates as good as they are, everything's nicely set up really nicely right now going forward. That's the energy I feel. It's a nice place for us to be, not just realtors but sellers and buyers.
TC: I've heard people saying last year that they were already priced off the peninsula. Are there any deals to be had for a first-time homebuyer in central Halifax?
BM: Well, if you think of the MLS areas, you can find the odd place in the north end. I won't say that they don't need work. There's a place in the west end. It had 15 offers and might have needed to be ripped down. It was on for $199,000. There are those places out there, it's just what is someone's tolerance threshold to do work? If you factor that in, maybe a first-time homebuyer won't want to take on a big project. A big project equals money. I think downtown Dartmouth I'm feeling an energy about. King's Wharf is going in and it's got room for things to happen. Shore Drive and Fairbanks Street, its taken off already. There are little pockets that have had a resurgence. People have gone in and done reservations and the areas have improved, price-wise.
TC: Are there any other regions either in town or further out in terms of value to be added?
BM: I do really like the north end. I think there's still potential there for people to go in and do some work. It's just a great area, but that is starting to get pricey.
Armdale is always been an area that has potential, too. It can be a mixed bag, but there are houses that fall on the line of Spryfield and Armdale, some nice places can be found.
TC: If I was in the market to buy a home and needed to speak to a realtor, and called you, what sort of things should I have figured out in advance?
BM: Ideally you would have a sense of your ability to finance, what your debt ratio is. Have your pre-approval done and know that you have a certain budget to work with. To have an idea of what your needs and wants are. Not to say that you have to stick to them, but to have a sense of what appeals to you. Areas would be nice to know, which will wash itself out once we know the price point of what you're in. Discussion will ensue from that.
TC: If I was thinking of selling, what should I have in mind?
BM: What a lot of people will do is call up the realtor they used before, or have a couple realtors come in. We're going to want to view their house, and anything they can provide me, a list of updates, anything that might not be obvious to me. Any work they've done and if there's some kind of limiting circumstances that could affect the value, like if they share the driveway and that's not clear. And if they have their assessment. As a realtor we can get that online. As a realtor we prepare, too. We can give advice and connections to help them get their house ready for showing.
TC: Given the new optimism, if someone was thinking of selling a home, this might be the time to do it. Is it a seller's market?
BM: With the listings that are coming on, there are some have been sitting for awhile. They're starting to go. We're heading into a seller's market. My gut tells me that's going to continue for awhile. It might be a buyer's market because the interest rates are so good, but I can see that value's going to increase.