International Real Estate: House Hunting in … Canada

This stately 10-bedroom home is in St. Andrews, a historic resort town on Passamaquoddy Bay, in the coastal province of New Brunswick, Canada.

Set on about 1.25 acres, the 9,700-square-foot house was built in 1897, when wealthy families would spend summers on the breezy peninsula in palatial seaside homes. Today St. Andrews — just two miles from the eastern coast of Maine across the bay — continues to draws tourists with its quaint downtown, golf and marine activities.

The owners bought this property in 1996 and restored it to operate as a bed-and-breakfast, with decorative fireplaces, four-poster beds and mahogany armoires in the guest suites. But the original configuration has been maintained, so it could still function as a private residence, said Harry Chancey Jr., an owner. The price includes most of the furnishings, lighting fixtures and artwork.

“We didn’t want to change anything about its residential characteristic,” Mr. Chancey said. “Everything looks as though the family that owned it previously had just finished dinner.”

A nearby 9,000-square-foot house that serves as the owners’ residence is also on the market for 1.495 Canadian dollars (or about $1.1 million). The two houses can be bought together for 2.9 million Canadian dollars ($2.2 million).

The three-level main house, known as Kingsbrae Arms, has a cedar-shingled exterior with green shutters in front and a pair of rooftop eyebrow windows. The main entrance opens into a foyer with an Austrian crystal chandelier hanging above the staircase. The paneled library is straight ahead, with a living room to the left and a dining room to the right.

The house sits on more than an acre, with a large backyard and garden.CreditFundy Bay Real Estate

The library, which has built-in bookshelves and a mirrored Art Deco bar, retains its original exposed ceiling beams, Mr. Chancey said. In the adjoining living room, a pair of arched doorways flank one of two Carrara marble-faced fireplaces in the room.

The dining room has a pair of built-in china cabinets and another fireplace. A swinging door leads to the kitchen, which was designed for commercial use and includes a dining area. At its center is a large granite island with several stainless-steel sinks. Appliances include a conventional refrigerator, a walk-in cooler and two commercial-grade ovens. The wine cellar stores up to 3,000 bottles.

Upstairs are eight bedroom suites, each with a fireplace and a marble bathroom, as well as five balconies with water and garden views.

Two additional suites are in a guest wing that originally served as a carriage house and stables. These larger spaces, meant to accommodate families, face the grounds to the rear of the house, where herbs and vegetables grow.

The house is next door to Kingsbrae Garden, an attraction with 27 acres of themed gardens, animals, sculptures and fine dining. The luxury Algonquin Resort, which opened in 1889, is a few blocks away. After several renovations over the years, the Algonquin has indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, a rooftop patio and an 18-hole golf course on the waterfront.

St. Andrews, also known as St. Andrews by-the-Sea, was established in 1783 by British loyalists from Castine, Me., and it retains the Colonial street layout in the heart of its compact downtown. Much of the town’s 18th- and 19th-century architecture has been preserved, and attractions include galleries, antiques shops and restaurants. The year-round population is roughly 1,900.


An arched doorway connects the living room to the library.CreditJulian Parkinson for The New York Times

Most of the furniture and artwork is included in the asking price.CreditJulian Parkinson for The New York Times

Despite the town’s proximity to the United States, the nearest border crossing is about 20 miles north, in the town of St. Stephen. The closest airport is in St. John, just over an hour away. Visitors from the United States often fly to the airport in Bangor, Me., then drive or take a bus to the St. Stephen crossing.

Home sales in the province of New Brunswick rose by 2 percent from 2017 to 2018, and have continued to rise in 2019, according to data from the New Brunswick Real Estate Association. Sales during the first quarter of 2019 were almost 15 percent higher than during the same period last year.

The increased sales volume has gradually eaten away at inventory, putting sellers in a better position, said Sheila Henry, the association’s president. Active residential listings numbered 4,755 at the end of March, down 19 percent from March 2018.

Still, New Brunswick remains one of Canada’s least populous and most affordable housing markets, with an average sale price in 2018 of 175,976 Canadian dollars ($131,000), compared with 488,600 Canadian dollars ($363,000) nationwide.

In St. Andrews, “the market’s been active in the $400,000-and-under price points” — or less than about $300,000, in American dollars — “so there’s not quite as much inventory as we’re used to,” said Mark Gauley, an agent with RE/Max St. Andrews. Higher-end properties offer some of the best value at the moment, he noted, as there is less demand at that end of the market.

The average sale price in St. Andrews last year, for a total of some 66 sales, was 255,139 Canadian dollars ($190,000), according to data provided by Ms. Henry.

Properties within walking distance of downtown are the most in demand, but supply is limited, given the town’s small size.

“Because it is starting to be more of a seller’s market, people are willing to use their imaginations and take on a renovation project if it’s a good location,” Mr. Gauley said. “St. Andrews is all about layers of history: If you look at 10 properties, they’re all going to be different.”


The carriage house, on the west side of the house, was converted to guest quarters, with two large suites.CreditJulian Parkinson for The New York Times

St. Andrews has long been known as a summer retreat for Canadian and American tourists, and remains the primary draw for outside buyers in New Brunswick, agents said. (Shediac, about 175 miles up the coast, also attracts summer visitors, but is a French-speaking area and appeals mainly to Canadians.)

Retirees and those approaching retirement make up the largest share of out-of-town buyers. Most are from elsewhere in Canada, said Leona Golding, the owner of the Fundy Bay Real Estate Group, which has this listing. But Americans have a significant presence in St. Andrews, she added, as they own about a quarter of all property there.

Americans used to make up as much as half of the market for seasonal residences before 2008, Mr. Gauley said. But that activity dried up during the financial crisis and hasn’t fully recovered.

“The exchange rate is so favorable for Americans, it’s surprising that we don’t have more of them coming up here,” he said. “Most of our market is central Canada and the West Coast.”

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in New Brunswick.

Mortgages are available to foreign buyers, though usually not for more than 70 percent of the sale price, Mr. Gauley said.

Second homes and investment properties are taxed at a higher rate than primary residences in New Brunswick, despite years of lobbying by the real estate industry for the provincial government to equalize the rates. To offset that cost, buyers of summer properties often rent them out in the off-season, as rentals are in short supply, Ms. Golding said.


The eastern view from a third-floor balcony includes a portion of the 27-acre Kingsbrae Garden and Katy’s Cove. The coast of Maine is less than three miles in the other direction.CreditJulian Parkinson for The New York Times

English, French; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar = $0.74)

Buyers in Canada must pay a land transfer tax of 1 percent of the sale price. Legal fees are usually less than 1,000 Canadian dollars (about $745), Mr. Gauley said.

The agent’s commission is typically 5 percent, and is paid by the seller.

Annual property taxes for this home are 10,681 Canadian dollars (about $7,900), Ms. Golding said.

Leona Golding, Fundy Bay Real Estate Group, 506-529-8777;

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Published at Wed, 15 May 2019 13:31:36 +0000