The Mighty Maritimes: Safe property havens?

The mantra of most Realtors in the Maritime provinces is that you get stability when you invest here. There are no major swings in values, nor are there the high sale prices of Canada's major cities.

That certainly remains the case in this year's market. Whereas average year-to-date residential prices rose 13.4 per cent nationally this May compared to last year, they increased at less than half that rate in the Maritime provinces, according to statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

The May figures show Nova Scotia's average price rose 7.5 per cent, New Brunswick's increased 2.3 per cent and Prince Edward Island was the lowest in the country at 2.2 per cent. But over a longer period of time, the Maritime provinces have shown they can match the price gains of elsewhere in the country.

From 2005 to 2010 through May, for example, the Atlantic provinces showed a 37.6 per cent price increase, compared to 37 per cent nationally.

Other than stability, the price point can be a major factor towards those looking to buy in the Maritimes. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have the two lowest average prices in the country through May, at about $143,000 and $156,000 respectively.

Nova Scotia was ranked the fourth lowest of any region by the CREA, with an average price around $197,000. The national average price is about $301,000, according to CREA.

Smaller, safer communities are also a common draw to the Maritime provinces.

You won't find, however, many major price gains in any one year. This is not a place for a short-term investment. With vacancy rates around the national average, investors will also need to be sure they are buying in the right area if they want to remain cash-flow positive. But there are certainly good options in Charlottetown and Halifax, as well as some others.

For the full article pick up a copy of the September issue, on newsstands now.

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