Monday, September 26, 2011

Buying Real Estate in Nova Scotia

Want to buy land or a house in Nova Scotia? Read on for some tips and information.

As you know, dear readers, we are looking for a permanent location for our farm and the internet is a wonderful tool because I can sit here in bed in the middle of the night, or half way around the world, and look at what's available in Nova Scotia.

The most popular website in Canada is undoubtedly the MLS - Multiple Listing Service used by realtors. But I still recommend for browsing because it gives more information than is found on a typical real estate listing and also includes recently sold properties so you can get a general idea of prices in a similar location. It doesn't replace actually getting your boots on and going for a walk with your realtor, but it's a good place to get a feel for what you want and to weed out the places that don't appeal.

Buying a house or land in Nova Scotia is both inexpensive compared to other similar locations in the world, and easy. Of course, having the right tools and knowledge goes a long way towards ensuring a smooth and stress free experience for both buyers and sellers. If you're buying then you should make sure that you know the legal requirements and have a basic understanding of what to expect.Transactions can be dealt with by you and the seller, through a brokerage, agent, lawyer or municipality depending on the circumstances. However, the majority of transactions are through real estate agents and the brokerages they represent with lawyers handling the title transfers and legal paperwork.

In Nova Scotia, and in fact all of Canada, the seller pays the fees of the realtor unless they have listed privately and say that they will not pay fees. What does this mean to you? It means that if you're buying, you won't have to pay real estate fees related to the cost of purchasing your home though you may have some occasional fees to cover advertising you request. This would be unusual however and you would have to request this service and authorize any charges before your realtor would do anything. When working with a realtor you would also sign an exclusivity agreement that basically says the realtor represents you and so if you buy a home, they get their commission. It's for a fixed term and can be cancelled in writing. It's a way of making sure that multiple agents are not working with the same clients and then fighting over who gets the commission. Fees you will have to pay are the conveyancing fees to a lawyer to transfer title, the legal paperwork etc. You should do your research and find out the transfer amounts because they do vary greatly especially between the Halifax Regional Municipality and the rural areas in Nova Scotia. Commissions are calculated using one of several variations. Check here for the official word.  

How fees are calculated A brokerage’s fee is most often calculated in the following ways:
By a percentage of the sale price (for real estate)
A flat fee
A fee for service
A combination of any of these

Note: Real estate brokering is a “service” and therefore Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is applicable to all fees. Real estate brokerage fees A real estate brokerage and client may negotiate any terms agreeable to them for the services provided. Any of the following calculations are possible:

1. Percentage of the sale price For example: An Industry Member charges 5% commission on the sold price of a property. The commission is calculated: 200,000 × 0.05 = $10,000 + HST Another percentage example shows a split percentage, with one amount of percentage charged on part of the sale price and another on the balance of the sale price. Therefore, as an example on a $200,000 sale, a commission of 6% on the first $100,000 and 2% on the remaining balance, would calculate as: (100,000 × 0.06) + (100,000 × 0.02) = (6,000 + 2,000) = $8,000 + HST

2. Flat fee The fee is a flat fee of an agreed upon amount regardless of the sale price, such as $10,000 + HST.

3. Fee for service All the individual services provided will be compensated for. The client and the brokerage should agree prior to entering into an agreement of what the service fees will be. The fee for service could be based on an hourly rate, specific amount for each service provided, or in the case of property management, a monthly service fee for specified services performed each month. The number of services provided may require an addendum to the service contract.

4. A combination of fee calculations For example: A flat fee plus a fee for service based on an agreed list of services. Assume the property sells for $200,000. ($5,000 flat fee) + ($5,000.00 total service fees) = ($5,000 + $5,000) = $10,000 + GST

Attention: You need to find out if fees are refundable or not and do not sign any agreement until you have read and understood it—and only then, if you agree to it.


  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    The process seems to be very similar over your way, as it is here in B.C. when buying a home. Thanks for the tip about viewpoint ... I've been starting to look there now. There is a lot of inventory available in Nova Scotia for varying prices. I'm leaning towards the south shore, but it's pricier there. Annapolis looks good too ... so we'll have to see. In the end though,I really suppose it all boils down to the house. I'm hoping to find that perfect one, with renos completed for the most part. We have done too many houses to gut and re-do another. I'm tired of that stuff ! Do you miss B.C. at all, or are you all satisfied there with no regrets ? By the way, your kids look like they'd be wonderful fun to be around. Good luck to Steve ... hope the job works out.

    Have a great day ... Helga

  2. Hi Helga. Yes, buying seems pretty similar all across the country from what I can tell. The south shore is really nice from what I've heard and while it does cost more, you're closer to town and save on gas. But no matter where you decide to live, the people are nice and there are affordable homes everywhere. From what I've seen, an un-renovated house in the valley is going to cost us about $100k and one that's totally done up will cost $200k which in BC prices is nothing. I've seen some nice houses sell in Digby area for $125k that were all re-done but that's a long way to drive if you want to go into the city. One thing, property taxes are WAY more in the city and in some areas than others. I heard it can be a difference of $2000 dollars a year which is huge! Even the small towns can have much higher taxes than the rural properties surrounding them.

    We do miss some things about BC. I'm going to do a post today. But all in all we feel that this was a good move for us and we do not regret it at all. If you decide to come and visit we can certainly give you a room while you explore the area and there are some lovely B&B's around too.

    The winter is going to be interesting because we're getting mixed stories about the weather. Some people say it's awful and others that it's fine. I'll be sure to give you the truth so you know.

    Steve's job seems to be going fine and he's getting used to the drive but not paying $25 each day for gas. He's going to have to look at getting a new vehicle anyways because ours won't pass inspection so maybe he will get something smaller and more fuel efficient for the commute.

    Thanks for keeping in touch Helga.

  3. Hi Elizabeth. You are very kind to offer me a room, for pay of course. I don't have plans to visit there in the immediate future. Maybe we'll just arrive like you did, and then look for a place. We do have a home to sell here first, and a lot of homework to do yet. We are a family of three. Myself, my husband Alan, and our 19 almost twenty year old son, Connor. He has Aspergers, which is high functioning Autism. He's a real challenge for sure. Some days I could just rip my hair out! I have to check and see if he's eligible for income assistance there, as he is here under the Persons with Disabilities. He only gets peanuts really, but it's better than nothing. He'll need that help later when we are gone. So our final decision to move or not, really hinges on what support systems he'll be entitled to in Nova Scotia. In B.C. the resources are becoming fewer and fewer each year, as the government continues to make budget cuts for disabled people. GRRR !! I could really ramble on here and vent for hours ... so I'll slap myself and refocus. Oh, you said nine dollars for a Mclobster. Wow, that's nuts. Your kids could eat two each if they were really famished ! Yes, it will be interesting to hear about winter weather there for sure. I also hear that oil heat is expensive, but so is gas heat here. Really, what's cheap these days ? Anyways, we'll chat again.

    Take Care Elizabeth

  4. Buying a new house or property is one of the biggest investments you will make and should be taken seriously.

  5. Hi there
    There is another choice for selling real estate in Nova Scotia. I own the company called and we list property's for builders and homeowners without charging commission. We have access to the MLS for 200.00 plus tax for 6 months. We also have the attractive HomesByOwner lawn signs.
    Visit or call Paul Dunn At 902 681 2271