City dwellers swoon over rustic East Coast real estate on the cheap

East Coast boasts charming homes on the cheap

HALIFAX — A historic manor in rural Nova Scotia has social media users salivating over the roughly $435,000 price tag for the estate, but it’s far from the only bargain in the Maritimes that would make city dwellers swoon over sprawling, rustic property on the cheap.

Wanda Graves of Eastern Valley Real Estate says an online listing for the 107-year-old mansion in Newport Landing, N.S., has surpassed one million views on the company’s website in less than a week and its Facebook post has been shared more than 36,000 times as of Sunday.

Graves says she is overwhelmed by the flurry of interest in the “Mounce Mansion,” so-named for the notable family who built the home. She says she’s booked with back-to-back showings for eight hours a day and has taken to conducting tours for potential buyers from afar over FaceTime.

“We don’t normally see that, of course, in this area, so it is a bit of a phenomena to us,” says Graves. “We’ve had a number of calls asking if the listing is actually real.”

Nestled atop a hill overlooking the Avon River, the Queen of Anne style home is adorned with austere woodwork dating back to the 1910s, walls hand-painted with floral designs and ornate stucco ceilings, according to the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia. The listing says the roughly 7,000-square-foot residence is spread over three storeys including seven bedrooms, a library, two parlour rooms a sunroom and an eat-in kitchen.

And all of that $2,300 cheaper than the average price of a condo apartment in the Toronto area, according to the latest report from the city’s real estate board.

There are plenty of other properties on in the Atlantic provinces that offer the same coastal charm and pastoral acreage for a fraction of what a home would cost in Canada’s major cities.

On Prince Edward Island, Steven Malayny of Royal LePage County Estates says he’s seen a steady trickle of Ontario retirees and Prairie dwellers who are moving to the Maritimes looking for a “slower pace” lifestyle or a late-stage career change.

In the western part of the Island, Malany says century-old homes on expansive lots are often listed for less than $300,000. In white-hot housing markets like Toronto and Vancouver, he reckons equivalent properties would be priced well into the six-digit range — depending on the neighbourhood, you may have to add another zero.

Malany is currently working to sell a cottage-style inn with eight bedrooms and seven baths in the village of Bedeque. The Victorian property was restored by an Ontarian couple to run the four-star bed and breakfast, but now they’re looking to turn over their business and land to the tune of about $288,888, says Malayny.

Re/Max Harbourside Realty has listed 12 acres of waterfront real estate near Kensington for $269,900. According to the listing, the century-old home comes fully furnished with five bedrooms, two bathrooms and the “private retreat” is surrounded by bucolic meadows and a view of Malpeque Bay.

Celeste LeBlanc says Re/Max County Line Realty sold at least six homes in Amherst, N.S., to buyers from Western Canada last year, a significant number of purchases in the town of about 9,500 people.

The real estate firm has two properties built in the Victorian era — one priced $369,900, the more extravagant estate going for $579,900.

Even the more modest home sits on a 13,900 square-foot lot and touts five bedrooms, a master suite equipped with a jet-powered bathtub, maids quarters, an oak staircase, cherry cabinets, and hardwood floors throughout the first and second floors, according to the listing.  

It’s much the same story in St Andrews, N.B. Re/Max realtor Mark Gauley recently sold a historic property for an amount he wouldn’t disclose — but the listing price was less than $350,000. Originally built around the 1830s, the listing says the five-bedroom home “exudes the character and charm of a bygone era” featuring marble fireplaces, crystal wall scones, a pedestal sink and original cooking ovens, but also “all the conveniences of a modern home” thanks to a two-storey addition put in about 25 years ago.

A short distance from the Maine-New Brunswick border,  St. Andrews has been a hotspot for American property buyers looking to take advantage of a favourable U.S. to Canadian dollar exchange rate, says Gauley.

As the loonie rallied, Gauley says American home purchases subsided, but he has recently noticed an uptick in interest from south of the border.

“We are getting some more Americans sniffing around and buying properties,” he says. “Some of it, I would say is (the) Trump effect, believe it or not.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

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