Top tax-friendly towns: Pictou

by CRE09 Jun 2015
Pictou may seem like a quiet, coastal town in Nova Scotia. But in order to see its true potential, one must look beyond that.

The town boasts affordable real estate and one of the lowest property tax rates in the province. It serves as a bedroom community for nearby New Glasgow, which is among the province’s larger communities.

According to municipal statistics, Pictou’s property tax rate comes out to approximately $1.86 per $100 of the assessment, or a rate of 0.0186 per cent. Although these statistics make it enticing to investors, Pictou has also gained a following among retirees.

Tax factors

“One of the biggest factors is the amount of commercial [properties],” says town accountant Eldon MacDonald.

“The commercial [tax] rate is vastly different than the residential rate – $4.39 per $100 [of the assessment] as opposed to the residential rate of $1.86. Obviously, the more commercial there is, the more beneficial it will be to the town.”

A strong effort has been made by the town council to keep tax rates as low as possible in order to help Pictou keep pace with the other towns located within Pictou County.

“The mayor has made a concerted effort to reduce the taxes to the prevailing rates of the other towns in the county,” MacDonald says. “He has done that successfully throughout his tenure.

"This was done through a combination of keeping costs down and sharing services with other municipalities.”

Market performance

MLS data for the region shows an average home price of $97,185 [in June 2014]. The stats also show that some properties sold for as little as $12,900. With prices like these, properties in Pictou are a veritable bargain for investors.

“The best buy for any investor would be single-family dwellings because you can get them at a pretty inexpensive price,” says Sherry Blinkhorn, broker and owner of Blinkhorn Real Estate.

“Based on what a mortgage would be and the rents you could collect, you would be looking at $500 to $600 for a two-to-three bedroom single-family dwelling,” she adds. “In some cases, you may get $650 if the property has been well looked after in a good area.”

MacDonald says that buyers should consider giving the town’s older inventory a look as well. “There are older homes in Pictou that have views, are heavily treed and are just beautiful properties,” he adds. “Some of them have been altered for tenancy, but the majority would be single-family homes.”

Looking ahead

Taxes in Pictou are expected to show a slight increase in the future. The reason for this, says MacDonald, is due to a decline in the town’s population, which was the result of a lack of younger families and proper marketing of the town.

However, the area is trying to turn that tide, a move that could help the area’s future fortunes. An organization called The Renaissance Group was also founded to help make the town more appealing to tourists and attract new residents while officials are actively targeting younger families.

Blinkhorn believes that the market will remain relatively unchanged this year, given that those who live or rent in Pictou tend to remain there for long periods of time.

“I don’t hold a crystal ball, but I think the trend for Pictou is going to stay the same,” she says. “There are people who were born and raised in Pictou that will always stay here."

3,437 (2011)
Property tax rate: 0.0186
Average price: $97,185 [June 2014]
Average rent: $650 (3-bedroom house)
Vacancy rate: 4.5%

To learn more about Canada's vacation and recreational property market, subscribe to CREW and receive the upcoming annual 'Cash in Cottage Country' report.

This article was originally published in the June 2014 issue of Canadian Real Estate Wealth magazine

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