Spryfield poised for steady price growth

Spryfield, right next to Long Lake Provincial Park and just a 10- to 15-minute drive from downtown Halifax, offers homeowners incredible access to a wide array of amenities, while staying out of the hustle and bustle of the city's core.

The neighbourhood did lose a little bit of its flare in recent years as more homeowners left for Halifax's newest suburbs. But government investments in this area have started to bring a lot of previous Spryfield residents back. For instance, the completion of a $2.5 million renovation project to a local community centre has boosted demand among families looking for an ideal neighbourhood to raise their children.

Not to mention, the recent development of a 120-home subdivision called Kidston Estates has been forcing home values up in Spryfield. Detached homes in this new subdivision (which is bordered by Lieblin Drive and Rockingstone Road and located between a new French immersion school and Kidston Lake) are selling for roughly $300,000 each.

The third phase of the project was still under construction as of September 2011, so Killeen-Payne says there's plenty of room for home values in Spryfield to move up even further. "I think a lot of people began to realize what was happening in Kidston Estates and Spryfield and they started to move back into the area," Killeen-Payne says. "A lot of young families and professionals are starting to move into that area, as well, which lifts up the value of all the other buildings."

Killeen-Payne says the pride of ownership in the whole area is flourishing as whole streets are transformed from rows of eyesores to rows of attractive, well-kept homes. "What we're seeing is people are buying cheaper homes and then just putting $20,000 into it for a new kitchen, bathrooms and windows and now a lot of the properties look really nice," Killeen- Payne says.

This transformation has boosted real estate values substantially over the last few years and has positioned the neighbourhood to enjoy much more appreciation in the coming years. Consider that the year-to-date (January to September) average price of a home (not including multi-unit properties) in this neighbourhood during 2008 was just $181,276.

That average crept up in 2009 by just 2% to $185,053, but then exploded by 11% in 2010, bringing the year-to-date average price to $205,712. The large gain made between 2009 and 2010 was primarily a result of some more expensive homes being sold, but the trend overall remains upward.

The average price, like in many parts of the country, has moderated this year, leaving Spryfield with just a 3% gain in the year-to-date average of $211,748. But Killeen-Payne says the neighbourhood is poised to gain even more in the coming years.

"Investors moving into this area are being quite smart because they're seeing that the average price is going up, so they're like, 'Great, I'll get in there at a lower price and put a little bit of equity into it myself and force the appreciation.' So for a first-time investor, this is a really smart move to go into an area like that," Killeen-Payne says.

For the intermediate to experienced investor, Killeen-Payne says the real investment potential in the neighbourhood is multi-family buildings. And, no, this isn't an overwhelming feat to accomplish, he adds.

The average year-to-date price of a multi-unit building (a duplex or a triplex) in Spryfield was just $215,520. In fact, Killeen-Payne says a six-unit building just went onto the market for $240,000.

Considering the average price of a detached home in Toronto was $648,491 in August, buying a multi-family building in Halifax doesn't really take that much money by comparison. Killeen-Payne crunched the numbers on this building and found that it would generate up to $1,000 in net income even when accounting for vacancies and rising costs.

As for single-family homes, rents in this neighbourhood are about $850 to $950 and can't be raised much higher. But with a multi-family building, single units are going for $325. So a six-unit building, for instance, could stand to bring in $1,950 a month in rent. "If you want to make a leap into multi-families to see how it works, then I would say that Spryfield is definitely an area you can do it in with a relatively low down payment," he says.

To learn about the other nine hot investments towns CRE has surveyed, pick up a copy of our December issue, on newsstands until Dec. 5.

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