ST. MARY’S – No one will ever mistake Sherbrooke for Toronto, but this Eastern Shore community – and the district to which it belongs – is breaking records as real estate sales and building permits continue to boom.
According to the most recent figures from the municipality’s finance department, deed transfer tax revenues were $64,088 during the first quarter of the fiscal year, ending June 30, 2021, compared with $14,161 during the comparable period in 2019-20.
Meanwhile, the municipality registered 17 building permits with an assessed value of $1.6 million during the quarter, compared with 10 worth $718,000 in the same period two years ago.
All of which now puts the district on an even steeper growth curve than last year, when it set new records for annual transfer tax revenues ($131,589). Already, the first quarterly showing of this year is comparable to the entire annual take in 2019-20 ($68,007) and 2018-19 ($78,645), and well above that in 2017-18 ($56,812).
Said CAO Marvin MacDonald: “Indications are that the increased activity of real estate sales in St Mary’s is continuing and we are hopeful that will remain for some time,” adding: “The upward trend in real estate seems to be consistent with what is happening in Atlantic Canada during the pandemic and no doubt is also to some extent attributable to the higher housing costs in cities and larger urban centers.”
Indeed, according to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, year-over-year house sales had risen significantly at the end of July, with marked gains in rural, less traditionally robust markets. Residential turnover was up 47, 69, 75 and 65 per cent, respectively, in Annapolis Valley, Cape Breton (overall), Cape Breton (Highland region), and northern and Eastern Nova Scotia. Average prices in those areas were 36 per cent higher than last year, and as much as 15 percentage points of appreciation greater than urban HRM’s.
“I expect the more openness and ability to work from a home office is also a factor [in persuading people] to the move to rural areas,” MacDonald said.
Still, he added: “At this point [we] are not making any projections or how the trend may or may not continue [in St. Mary’s] for the balance of this fiscal year.”
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal