Lachi Mainali and Lachsman Koirala stood outside a mustard-colored house on a corner lot in Timberlea, a suburban community outside Halifax.
It is very far from the downtown hospital where they work as cleaners. But they are priced outside the city real estate market. This four-bedroom split-level home is priced at just under $ 330,000. It is in their wheelhouse, financially, even though the couple know from experience that it will sell for a lot more.
“I hope that’s it,” Koirala said as his wife laughed. He estimates that over the past two years they have surveyed more than 150 homes and made bids on more than two dozen, only to be outbid every time.
“Sometimes it’s so frustrating, I think we’d have to wait some time before looking for homes again for prices to drop again.”
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But waiting isn’t really an option for the couple, who arrived as refugees from Nepal in 2011. They now have two children aged 12 and 8.
They want a home. One yard. And they don’t give up even though house prices in the Halifax area are among the fastest in the country.
“We didn’t have a home in the country,” Koirala said. “Coming here, we want to have a home. To feel what it’s like to have a home of our own. This is what makes us look for one.”
“It’s a dream,” Mainali told CBC in an interview for a special edition of The House airing this weekend from Halifax.
The largest city in Atlantic Canada is home to one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.
The Canadian Real Estate Association reports that the price of a typical home in the Halifax area jumped to a record $ 465,100 in February, a 33.5% increase from just a year earlier.
The vacancy rate for rental units is around 1%.
‘I tell everyone this is not sustainable’: Halifax real estate agent
Angela Cowan is the real estate agent who works with the couple. She said she didn’t see a market like this since she entered the business 17 years ago.
Cowan said there are far more people wanting to buy than homes for sale. Shoppers from outside the province, seeing relatively good prices in Nova Scotia as an investment opportunity, are driving up prices, putting up offers well above the asking price in places they’ve only seen online.
“I tell everyone that this is not sustainable. This is the point, it is simply not sustainable,” he said in an interview with The House punctuated by a constant stream of incoming messages and calls to his cell phone.
“So something has to be done. Something has to give somewhere. Interest rates are even going up. Something has to happen.”
The situation in Halifax is far from unique. The shortage of affordable housing, procurement wars leading to record selling prices, landlords evicting tenants to renovate and then raising rents – these are heard across the country.
Suzy Hansen is the New Democrat MLA for Halifax Needham, a race that takes you to the north end of the city. It’s a diverse community where old high-rise apartments compete with modern condos starting at $ 400,000, she said.
We met her in a small field near an abandoned school. From there you can see the port, a housing cooperative and new construction.
Hansen, who has seven children, is still a tenant. Even with an MLA’s salary, she said she can’t afford to buy in the part of town where she grew up.
“I mean, a house that was, let’s just say, three blocks here on Maynard Street, which was sold ten years ago for $ 249,000 – which, at the time (wasn’t) reachable for someone living in this community,” she She said. “Now it sells for $ 549,000. Two bedroom.
“And so when it comes to gentrification, it’s nice to see new families and, you know, it enriches us. But at the same time it also takes away opportunities. [for] those who live here ».
The great promises of the federal budget
These real estate pressures do not go unnoticed.
Last week’s federal budget allocated $ 10 billion for various housing initiatives, including $ 4 billion to work with municipalities to build 100,000 homes over the next five years and another $ 1.5 billion to accelerate construction of another 6,000. affordable housing units.
Even first-time homebuyers get a nod, with tax breaks to help them save for a down payment.
The Nova Scotia government is also pumping money into housing development and last month’s provincial budget imposed a special tax on those out-of-province buyers – particularly from Ontario – who view housing in Atlantic Canada as an investment rather than an investment. place to live.
“It is very important for us as a government to address this issue,” said John Lohr, provincial minister of municipal affairs and housing. “We know that nothing we’re doing is the solution. We hope all these programs and all the things we’ve put together will make a difference.”
But there’s no guarantee that the money raised from those levies on out-of-province buyers will be directed specifically to housing, Lohr said. The money will go into general revenue instead, though the minister said estimates suggest Halifax needs an additional 17,000-25,000 housing units.
And this is a problem. The population of Nova Scotia has just passed one million and, for the first time in years, more young people have moved to the province than they are left.
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So the lack of affordable housing and those skyrocketing rents aren’t selling points for this province or any other.
“You know, access to safe and affordable housing is critical if we are able to continue to be the destination of the best and brightest in the world. And Nova Scotia is no exception,” said the federal minister for l Ahmed Hussen housing, citing housing initiatives in the budget.
“There are a lot of pieces in there, but the work is not finished in budget. We continue to make sure we speak to experts, we follow the evidence and we pursue policies that address this issue in a comprehensive, not piecemeal way.”
Back in Timberlea, Lachi Mainali and Lachsman Koirala are not waiting for what this or the future budget might offer. They’ve been through the house and are making another offer.
“We can only offer what we can offer, right? So we stick to this rule as long as we like the house we are offering,” Koirala said. “If … we both like the house, then we make an offer that is the highest we can offer.”
They hope that this time around, the result will finally be a home of their own.