Monday, September 19, 2011

Finding A Home To Buy in Nova Scotia

So the search for a new farm has begun. It's good to look and know what comes and goes on the market so that you get a really good feel for the different areas and property types and what their true worth is. Anyone can ask $200k for a house, but is it really worth that? What if you paid $200k and then when you went to sell later on found that you could only get half that much for it? It makes sense to pay attention to the market and unlike other areas in Canada, Nova Scotia realtors do not list everything on the MLS multiple listing service. Often they have listings on their personal webpages or company sights. We highly recomment using and will talk more about them in a minute.

We're looking at the following options for a home and farm property:

1. Buy an already liveable house on a small acreage.

We could do this for about $120,000+/- and would be in the valley bottom closer to town or over the mountain (hill) towards the Bay of Fundy. The bay side of this area is much cooler and less humid during the hot summer months. When it's 33 degrees and we're sweltering in the valley it's a nice breezy 25 on the water side. But on the other hand it's also an extra drive and given the grade of some of the roads I bet it's a bit of a tricky drive in the winter.

Pros. Less work to do. Easier to get mortgage.
Cons. Close to town possibly, More expensive, Might not have much land.

2. Buy an old fixer-upper and renovate.

We could probably do this for about $80-100k and in fact we found a good house in this category that we're going to look at later this week. It's got 8 acres almost and needs some work but as far as we can tell it's got good bones.

Pros. We can make the house into what we want, Cheaper than buying already finished

Cons. Some things about an older house cannot be changed, Unexpected repairs can be costly, If badly neglected it can take a lot of sweat hours to get a place back in fair shape again and the same goes for a yard.

3. We could buy a place that's run down for under $60k, demolish the old house and build a new one. Given our skill level, this is certainly an option too. And since we have a rental home already we can work on a new place and still have somewhere to come home to at night.

Pros. Cheap option to buy initially. Would likely give us infrastructure like power, septic and well already in place and possibly a usable foundation.

Cons. Lots of hours of labour needed plus money for materials and permits etc. Finding a place that we could get a mortgage on could be tricky. Demolition can show up some unexpected and nasty surprises that can be costly.

4. The final option would be to buy raw land for under $40k and build our own home from scratch as money allows. This doesn't always work given the building permit process but it would be possible to live in our motorhome for many months while we build a home.

Pros. Get exactly the house we want. Could buy land outright depending on price. Get the perfect land for us. Could cut our own building materials from our land if we decide on cordwood masonry construction.

Cons. Most labour intensive as you have a complete build as well as land clearing to do. Takes a long time to build. Can purchase land and then not have enough money for house construction after all the service are in. Permits can be difficult to obtain for an owner built home. May take longer than we think.

So given all these options we're just in a holding pattern and not making any decisions until we know what we want to do. In the meantime we're exploring the area and checking out what's on the market. Probably the best tool for buying a home in Nova Scotia is which is a free service listing every single property in Nova Scotia. Then it marks properties for sale in blue and recently (6 months) sold in pink. You can see every lot line, every place for sale and how much the sold ones went for. Invaluable. Easy to search. Good for comparing property. If you click on a property it pulls up the actual for sale listing and gives you map info., price, features and details, photos, street view if available. Highly recommended for market research and to see what's out there.

Well, I should get going to find Steve some work or get him busy around home. Maybe we can do some more exploring today if there's enough gas in the van.


1 comment:

  1. Hello Elizabeth - your blog site is wonderful!!! Purchasing a home is a huge decision and one that requires a lot of time and research! Farming is a huge part of the Annapolis Valley and the area is amazing I am sure you will truley grow to love it here!

    Jennifer Guest
    Mortgage Specilist, Greenwood, NS