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Your home is a valuable asset, and an expensive one to purchase. Owning real estate is a great way to build wealth over time, in addition to putting a roof over your head. But considering the high cost of buying a home, it’s helpful to do a little due diligence before making such a big purchase, and getting familiar with the prices of homes in Nova Scotia is one of the first things you should do.

While Nova Scotia does not rank very high up among the most expensive provinces in Canada, homes in this province still fetch a few hundred thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money to play with, so making a sound purchasing decision is your best bet. 

Let’s take a closer look at the average price of homes in Nova Scotia right now to help you make an informed purchasing decision when buying a home.

Cost of Buying a House in Canada

Factors That Affect Home Prices

No matter what city in Nova Scotia that you may be looking to buy a home in, the same factors will impact home prices, including the following.

The Current Market

The temperature of the market plays a key role in what home prices are doing in a particular area. A seller’s market, for instance, means that there are lots of buyers on the prowl for a new home, but only have a few listings to choose from. Since demand outweighs supply, home prices will typically be higher, which favours sellers.

On the other hand, a buyer’s market means that there are more homes available for sale than there are buyers. Since the inventory is ample but the demand is not as high, home prices are usually a little lower in this scenario, which puts buyers in the driver’s seat.

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A strong economy is usually characterized by ample jobs, high wages, and a low unemployment rate. When people are working and bringing in a sizable income, they have more money to spend and are better able to afford a large purchase like a house. 

Consumers who have more money in their pockets to spend will fuel demand for real estate, which can drive prices of homes up.

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Mortgage Interest Rates

The price of a home is not the only thing that buyers will want to look at when assessing affordability. Mortgage interest rates also play a key role in the overall cost of a home. When rates are high, it’s more difficult to afford a home, as the overall cost of a home purchase will be much higher. In turn, this can reduce demand for housing and push prices down, too.

But when rates are low, mortgages are much more affordable. And when more buyers can afford a home purchase, there will be more demand for housing, which can drive prices higher.

Right now, mortgage interest rates are hovering near historic lows. You can get an interest rate of 3.0% or less, depending on the mortgage type and your credit and financial health. Even a 1.0% difference in mortgage rates can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. 

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Perhaps nothing is more influential on home prices than location. The exact same home in two different locations can have two very different price tags. Basically, a more desirable location will command higher home prices, while a less desirable spot will see lower prices.

Find out if you can get a zero down payment mortgage.

Age And Condition Of The Home 

Older homes that need a little TLC will generally be considered less valuable than new homes in pristine condition. 

Size Of The Home

In general, a home with more square footage will be more expensive to purchase than a smaller home. That said, there are exceptions to this rule, especially when you factor in location.


A home with more expensive features will often cost more than a home with basic traits. For example, hardwood flooring and granite countertops are considered more desirable than wall-to-wall carpeting and linoleum counters. 

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Average House Prices In Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, the average price for a home is $400,500 as of May 2023. That’s a 3.2% decrease from last May when the average price for a home in the province was $413,800.

The average price for a home province-wide may differ from some of the individual centres across Nova Scotia. Consider the following areas in the province, along with their respective price tags for homes: 

  • Halifax-Dartmouth: $529,500
  • South Shore: $293,200
  • Cape Breton: $190,700

Comparing Average House Prices By Province

Home Prices May 2023Home Prices May 2022Year-Over-Year % Change
Canada$729,044$706, 7003.2%
British Columbia$1,017,979$989,6472.9%
New Brunswick*$279,500$295,400-5.4%
Newfoundland and Labrador*$280,400$271,4003.3%
Nova Scotia*$400,500$413,800-3.2%
Prince Edward Island$358,200$346,7003.3%
*based on MLS HPI benchmark prices

Find out if buying a house will make you house poor.

What Is Driving The Increase In Home Prices In Nova Scotia?

As mentioned above, Nova Scotia’s home prices have soared over the past year. But why is this?

While most other industries in Canada have been suffering due to the health crisis, the real estate market in Nova Scotia and across the rest of the nation has been booming. Although there was an initial dip over the first couple of months when the pandemic first struck, the industry bounced back quickly, with many homes spending just a few short days on the market before selling, in many cases over the asking price.

So far, home price peaks and a healthy housing market across Nova Scotia have been due to pent-up demand among buyers who sat things out over the first few weeks of the pandemic. Now, a tight inventory is contributing to higher prices as demand from buyers continues to remain strong. 

Check out what happens when you walk away from a house offer.

How To Determine How Much To Spend On A Home In Nova Scotia

Considering the magnitude of a home purchase, it’s imperative to establish a budget before beginning the hunt for a new home in Nova Scotia. That way, you can focus only on properties that you can afford to avoid leaving you “house poor” when all is said and done. 

Here are some factors to consider when determining how much you should spend on a home purchase. 

List All Your Expenses

Not only should your income be factored into the equation before you buy a home and decide how much you can afford to spend, your expenses should also be considered. Make a detailed list of all the outgoing expenses you incur each month to help you determine how much you have left over to spend on mortgage payments. Typical monthly expenses include the following:

Be sure to add up precisely how much you spend each month and compare that figure to your income to understand how much money you’ve got left to dedicate to a mortgage.

Calculate Your GDS And TDS

‘GDS’ and ‘TDS’ ratios are important figures to take into consideration when figuring out how much of your income will be available to put towards your mortgage payments. Your lender will look at these ratios before deciding whether or not to approve you for a specific loan amount.

Your GDS represents your gross debt service ratio, which is a measure of the principal, interest, taxes, and half of your condo fees compared to your income. This ratio should not be any higher than 30% to 35%. Otherwise, your lender will consider you to be too much of a risk.

Your TDS represents your total debt service ratio, which is a measure of all of your debt — including your housing debt — that you are responsible for paying each month relative to your income. This ratio should not be any higher than 42%. Otherwise, the loan amount requested may not be approved.  

Your lender will use your GDS and TDS to determine the loan amount that you can get approved for. Armed with this information, you’ll know how much you can afford to spend on a home in Nova Scotia and can focus your efforts accordingly.

What Goes Into The Cost Of Owning A Home In Nova Scotia?

Owning a home means a lot more than just paying your mortgage. There are plenty of other costs that go into homeownership which you should be familiar with and budget for, including the following:

Final Thoughts

Nova Scotia’s home prices are rather affordable compared to other provinces as well as the national average, although they still cost a pretty penny. Before you start your search for a new home in Nova Scotia, spend some time getting familiar with what homes cost in each centre across the province, and get your finances in order so you have no issues securing the financing you need to finalize a home purchase. 

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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