When buying land in Nova Scotia, a title search is essential.

Paperwork, right? When what you want is a beautiful slice of Nova Scotia land, who wants to dig through dusty old deeds and legal documents? But as I’ll explain below, a title search is a MUST-DO activity for any prospective land buyer. Let’s dive into why it’s important, and how to get it done. 

What is a Title Search or Land Registry Search?

A title search involves looking up a real estate property to determine important information such as ownership, claims on the property, any rights of way or encumbrances, etc.

Why is a title search important?

A title search is essential because it verifies the identity of the seller, and makes the buyer aware of any claims or restrictions associated with the property. If you’ve ever purchased a home, you’ve done a title search – it would have been completed by your lawyers as part of the sale closing process.


When it comes to buying land, particularly with a private sale, you need to ensure a title search is completed. It can be done as part of the closing process, but I strongly recommend conducting a title search much earlier, basically before any money changes hands.


To point out just a few of the issues that can be spotted through a title search:

  • Owner fraud: A title search tells you exactly who owns the property you’re considering buying. Don’t take ownership on good faith simply because someone is claiming they own a property for sale – a title search gives you certainty from a trusted source.
  • Claims on the property: Just a few weeks ago I was contacted by someone who had made a large deposit on a land parcel through a private sale. There was no purchase and sale agreement in place, and the buyer hadn’t conducted a title search. When I looked up the property in question, it had an “interest” on it. There was an existing mortgage from one of the big 5 Canadian banks. The seller had a home nearby, and all three parcels of land they owned were included as collateral in the mortgage on their home. So what? Well, if the buyer had carried on with payments, while the seller neglected mortgage payments and fell into default, the bank could then legally take possession of all of the land parcels.
  • Rights of way and easements: Many rural land plots in Nova Scotia are accessible only through rights of way established in dated documents that can be tough to decipher. The ultimate question with a land parcel is, can I legally get in and out of it with a vehicle? A title search will reveal the terms of any rights of way that apply to the property.  


When should I do a title search or land registry search?

If you are serious about purchasing a property, it’s best to do the title search as early in the process as possible. Title search fees and services will be included in the closing costs that you would pay to a real estate lawyer, but that step typically takes place at the end of the sale process. Doing a title search early helps you spot any issues that might affect your decision to buy in the first place.


Do I need a lawyer to conduct a title search or land registry search?

No. You can do it yourself if you can Access Nova Scotia’s Property Online (POL) database. It’s an online search tool for finding land ownership and related information associated with a Nova Scotia property. Online access costs over $100 per month, so it’s not for everyone, but you can also buy access for a half day of searches for $6.59 (fees are listed here) by visiting a Nova Scotia land registry office


You may need a lawyer if the title search turns up items that are confusing or unclear. Rights of way can get particularly confusing when the only definition comes from a handwritten deed from decades ago. Fortunately though, most title searches I’ve engaged in generally show what you want to see – a clean and unrestricted title to the land. When that’s the case, the conditions for buying/selling are clear-cut, and your only restriction on the use of the land will be the local zoning bylaws.


What info do you need to conduct a title search?

You’ll typically need one of the following identifiers:

  • Property Identifier (PID#): this is a unique number for each parcel of land in Nova Scotia
  • Assessment Account (AAN): This is the account number associated with a parcel of land’s assessment value and property tax.
  • Owner Name
  • Civic Address: This is tricky with undeveloped land as there won’t be a typical civic address

What information is included in a property title search?

If your search in Property Online (the Nova Scotia land registry database) turns up a result, you’ll see an initial overview page for the property…

Nova Scotia property title search details

Here you’ll find standard information on the property:

  • PID#
  • Type: e.g. Standard Parcel
  • Status: e.g. Active
  • LR Status: NOT LAND REGISTRATION or LAND REGISTRATION. This field indicates if a property has been migrated in the Nova Scotia Land Registry system. For more detail, read our post on how to migrate land in Nova Scotia.

The owner…

  • Name
  • Address

The location…

  • Civic Address
  • County
  • Area: (size, e.g 100 acres)

Assessment value…

  • AAN: You can use the AAN to look up current and historical property taxes on the PVSC website.
  • Value: $(residential, resource). This represents the currently assessed value of the property. For more, read our post on property assessments in Nova Scotia.

From here you have a few options to see more details within Property Online. The “Details” link takes you to more specific information on the property.  You can also click to view a map of the property. While the mapping tool is not as useful as the tools from Viewpoint and RemaxNova, it is THE official record of the dimensions and layout of the property, so it’s worth a look.


Diving into the Property Online Details

There are a lot of fields on the Property Online details page – too many to list. Instead, I’ll emphasize the ones with the greatest potential impact for a buyer or a seller of Nova Scotia land.


Owner Name: This should match the person you’re intending to buy land from. If there’s a discrepancy, you want to make sure they are entitled to sell and transfer the property. 


Instrument Types:

Deed: There’s a section for instruments (documents) that will often have the most critical information. In it, you should find any deeds associated with the property. The most recent, and therefore most relevant, will be at the top of the list. You can click on the deed to read the details.


Viewing the most recent deed is essential. It will specify the boundaries and dimensions of the property as well as any conditions or easements associated with it. Now here’s the fun part – there’s no single template for deed documents. While they generally follow the same flow and format, there are differences. Older deed documents will be typed or even hand-written, sometimes in a writing style that is hard to decipher.


Registered Interests: If there is a registered interest on the property, it means that a third party (most often a creditor, like a bank) has a claim to ownership based on an agreement. Most often when a registered interest appears, it’s a mortgage lender. You can directly access the mortgage documents, which will let you see when the loan was established, the principal and the rate of interest, and any other conditions on the loan. What you can’t see unfortunately, is how much has been paid off and how much is outstanding. 


In order to sell a plot of land or a subdivided portion that has a mortgage-related interest on it, the seller needs to obtain permission (or a partial release) from the lender. This reduces the collateral for the lender.


Right of way: There are two places you’ll find right of way or easement information associated with a property. In some cases they are unique instruments (documents) that show on the details page. In other cases they are included in the property description within the deed itself. Rights of way are pretty critical for some properties. You don’t want to unknowingly purchase a landlocked property. Many right of way descriptions are vague. Nothing can stir up neighbourly disputes like unclear right of way details. If you’re unsure what rights that right of way includes, it’s best to consult with a Nova Scotia real estate lawyer. One quick example: I have a lakefront property with a deeded right of way through a neighbour’s property. Over the years, trees and brush have grown up over the right of way area. Can I just show up one day with a bulldozer and start tearing through my neighbour’s land? Better ask a lawyer first.   


Easements: Logging companies and utility operators have easements associated with many properties. This gives them the right to access the property based on the terms specified in the document.


Our list is not exhaustive. Sometimes you’ll find something more rare like a covenant, which lays out in specific terms how the land can be used by any future owner. The main point is to avoid surprises. Lastly, if you’re looking for detailed advice on buying land, check out our buyer’s guide called “how to buy land in Nova Scotia.”

2022/2023 Tax Rates For All Nova Scotia Municipalities

The various agencies of Nova Scotia do a commendable job of publishing information online for residents to access. The problem is, it’s often not presented well. We’ve waded through obscure apps, bizarre data viewers, and cumbersome data tables to find and surface what most people are looking for in a simple format. 

To that end, here’s your tax rate bud.

Source: data. novascotia.ca 

We’ve also compiled a full list of Nova Scotia municipal land use bylaws and zoning maps. Also, if tax rates are on your mind, you may be interested in our take on Nova Scotia property assessments. And of course, be sure to check out our comprehensive Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy Land in Nova Scotia.


Area Area Type Residential Tax Rate
Commercial Tax Rate
Cape Breton Tax Rates
Cape Breton MUN – Suburban Cape Breton Regional 1.58958 4.61636
CITY OF SYDNEY Cape Breton Regional 2.19058 5.21936
DOMINION Cape Breton Regional 1.99058 4.96536
GLACE BAY Cape Breton Regional 2.01858 4.96536
LOUISBOURG Cape Breton Regional 1.94058 5.02136
NEW WATERFORD Cape Breton Regional 2.00458 4.98836
NORTH SYDNEY Cape Breton Regional 2.03058 5.00436
SYDNEY MINES Cape Breton Regional 1.91558 4.88936
Halifax Region Tax Rates
BEDFORD Halifax Regional 1.154 3.53
COUNTY RURAL Halifax Regional 1.01 3.137
COUNTY SUBURBAN Halifax Regional 1.121 3.53
COUNTY URBAN Halifax Regional 1.154 3.53
DARTMOUTH Halifax Regional 1.154 3.53
HALIFAX Halifax Regional 1.154 3.53
Queens Region Municipal Tax Rates
LIVERPOOL Region of Queens 1.93 3
QUEENS COUNTY Region of Queens 1.04 2.14
West Hants Municipal Tax Rates
WEST HANTS West Hants Regional Municipality 1.0223 1.78
WINDSOR West Hants Regional Municipality 1.87 3.85
HANTSPORT West Hants Regional Municipality 1.65 3.75
All Other Nova Scotia Municipal Tax Rates
ANNAPOLIS Rural Municipality 1.025 1.8
ANTIGONISH Rural Municipality 0.88 1.44
ARGYLE Rural Municipality 1.11 2.29
BARRINGTON Rural Municipality 1.07 2.56
CHESTER Rural Municipality 0.705 1.53
CLARE Rural Municipality 1.04 2.07
COLCHESTER Rural Municipality 0.885 2.28
CUMBERLAND Rural Municipality 1.17 2.76
DIGBY Rural Municipality 1.3 1.85
EAST HANTS Rural Municipality 0.85 2.6
GUYSBOROUGH Rural Municipality 0.77 2.74
INVERNESS Rural Municipality 1.05 1.91
KINGS Rural Municipality 0.853 2.287
LUNENBURG Rural Municipality 0.81 1.957
PICTOU Rural Municipality 0.815 1.825
RICHMOND Rural Municipality 0.85 2.15
SHELBURNE Rural Municipality 1.26 1.82
ST. MARY’S Rural Municipality 0.95 2.26
VICTORIA Rural Municipality 1.22 2.12
YARMOUTH Rural Municipality 1.18 2.17
Tax Rates for Nova Scotia Towns
AMHERST Town 1.67 4.47
ANTIGONISH Town 1.11 2.63
BERWICK Town 1.588 3.9
BRIDGEWATER Town 1.75 3.97
CLARK’S HARBOUR Town 1.68 5.58
DIGBY Town 1.86 4.15
KENTVILLE Town 1.4262 3.2962
LOCKEPORT Town 2.4 5.41
LUNENBURG Town 1.376 3.358
MAHONE BAY Town 1.282 3.222
NEW GLASGOW Town 1.84 4.45
MIDDLETON Town 1.81 4.29
MULGRAVE Town 1.2375 4.5257
OXFORD Town 1.7874 4.2804
PICTOU Town 1.69 4.34
PORT HAWKESBURY Town 1.58 4.16
SHELBURNE Town 2.03 3.88
STELLARTON Town 1.82 4.15
STEWIACKE Town 1.615 3.45
TRENTON Town 2.04 4.1
TRURO Town 1.9025 4.5475
WESTVILLE Town 2.08 3.69
WOLFVILLE Town 1.4575 3.575
YARMOUTH Town 1.69 4.31

In the early months of each year, all Nova Scotia property owners will receive a mailing from Nova Scotia’s Property Valuation Services Corporation. This is your property assessment notice, and it directly influences the Nova Scotia property tax you will pay in the coming year. Let’s break it down.


How do I ensure my property details are accurate?

At the top right, you’ll see the Assessment Account Number (AAN) for your property. You can use this 8-digit number to view your property details online. This will show property boundaries, any buildings on the land, and prior assessment values. You won’t find much variation from year to year, but it’s important to make sure you’re being assessed for the property you actually own. 


What is the timeframe for the property assessment?

Your assessment reflects your property’s market value as of the first date of the year (e.g. January 1, 2023) and its physical state as of a date late in the year (December 1, 2023 for this year). The gap in between these dates matters. If, for example, you tore down an old house and build a huge mansion during that time period, you may receive an assessment that is much higher than the value of that old house due to the changes you’ve made on the property.


How does the PVSC know the state of my property?

They have an assessor hiding in the bushes watching your property at all times. Just kidding 🙂 Some properties receive a physical visit, resulting in a photograph of your property. You can see these by looking up your property details online using the AANN number. Many properties are simply updated using a set of valuation rules.


Do I have to make a payment?

The property assessment is not a bill, but it will affect one important bill that you receive: your Nova Scotia property tax bill. If your assessment value goes up, you’ll be paying more taxes in the year ahead.


What is the property assessment classification?

Your property will show a “classification” such as RESIDENTIAL TAXABLE, or RESOURCE TAXABLE. If your property has more than one use, you might see multiple classifications. Most properties will fall under these categories:

  • Residential property: single-family residences, multi-family residences, duplexes, apartments and condos, nursing homes, seasonal dwellings, manufactured homes, and vacant residential land.
  • Resource property: Farm property, forest property totaling less than 50,000 acres
  • Commercial property: Property deemed for commercial use, and forest property over 50,000 acres

The determination of residential vs. commercial properties is governed by your local municipal bylaws and zoning maps.


What is a Capped Assessment, and how does it affect Nova Scotia property tax?

A capped assessment places a limit that the taxable assessment for a residential property can increase from year to year. The property must be: 

  • at least 50% owned by a Nova Scotia resident (another drawback for foreign owners). If your residency has changed – say you moved to Nova Scotia and now qualify as a resident, you can notify PVSC using the CAP Notice of Residency form.
  • a residential property with less than four dwelling units or vacant resource property
  • If it’s a condominium, it must be owner-occupied
  • To qualify for the cap the property must be owned for at least a year, or ownership remained within the family. 


When a property is sold, the cap will be removed in the following year unless it is sold to a family member. 


The 2024 Cap rate is 3.2%.


What is the Taxable Assessed Value?

Nova Scotia Property AssessmentThat’s the most important number! That reflects the property value that will determine your Nova Scotia property tax. Unless you have a capped assessment, in which case you’ll pay tax on the lower of the two numbers.


How much Nova Scotia Property Tax will I pay?

That depends on your municipality. They determine their budgets and set tax rates that will cover the costs for municipal services (and possibly some fancy ergonomic keyboards because they’re tired of typing on a cheap old clacker). We created a really long table with all of the municipal tax rates in Nova Scotia for the 2022/2023 year. 


What should I look for in my property assessment history?

You want to check how the assessment value has changed, and how that will impact the Nova Scotia property tax you pay. If it has jumped up substantially, you have an option to appeal.


How do I appeal my Nova Scotia property assessment?

The property assessment you receive has a small form on the back. You can fill it out and mail, email or fax it to PVSC. You MUST do this by the deadline. The current deadline is midnight, February 8, 2024

  • To submit by mail: mail the completed form to Assessment Appeals, 6-15 Arlington Place, Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N 0G9
  • To submit by email: send a scan or a photo of your form to inquiry@pvsc.ca
  • To send by fax: 1-888-339-4555 (within North America) or 1-902-893-6101 (outside North America)


How does the appeal process work?

I have successfully appealed one property, so I’ll use that example here. I submitted the form and within a few weeks I received a call to discuss the details. I guess my claim was considered legit, because it was then passed on to an assessor, who called me about a month later. 


Everything sounded positive. I had a pretty strong case because the property in question had a house on it that was falling apart and non-habitable, but the assessment value was still based on the market value of the home when it was in suitable condition. So, some months went by and I received the paperwork for my new assessment, which was reduced by over $100,000.


There is no cost to appeal, and you do not need a lawyer. Though of course, if you get into some gnarly property issues a Nova Scotia property lawyer may be useful.

If you’re involved in buying or selling land, or any real estate, a good real estate lawyer is essential. We’ve provided contact details for several below. A good first question to ask is, “how local does my real estate lawyer need to be?”. In my opinion, you’re better off with a good real estate lawyer hundreds of miles away from the property you’re buying than an average lawyer in the vicinity. Unlike a surveyor, your lawyer doesn’t need to walk the lot. You want someone sharp on property law with good diligence for reviewing and submitting documents, and who responds promptly to your questions. I use the same real estate lawyer for all my deals, even though he’s often at the other end of the province from the properties I’m purchasing.

A real estate lawyer can help you with many tasks, including subdividing land, land migration, purchase and sale agreements, interpreting zoning bylaws and title searches. As we’ve written elsewhere, you can access title information through the Property Online land registry on your own, but a lawyer will have more expertise with the types of documents you’ll find there.  

The days of going in to the law office to sign documents are over, as those things can be done virtually from anywhere. Still, sometimes it’s nice to meet professionals in person, so we will summarize our list of Nova Scotia real estate lawyers by region. Recognizing some real estate lawyers will come and go with different firms, in most cases we’ve listed the real estate law firm rather than an individual.

If you’re looking for surveyors, developers, realtors or other professionals, please visit our Nova Scotia Land Development Guide.

  1. Annapolis Valley real estate lawyers:
  2. Central Nova Scotia real estate lawyers:
  3. Eastern Shore real estate lawyers:


  4. Halifax real estate lawyers:
  5. Musquodoboit Valley real estate lawyers:


  6. North Shore real estate lawyers:
  7. South shore real estate lawyers:


So, you’ve got some land – now what? It will take some time but we plan on building a comprehensive resource covering all the aspects of taking raw, vacant land and turning it into your dream home, cabin, or even a rental property. 

Topics will include land clearing, septic, water and power, excavation, permits and surveys. So, lot’s more to come! To begin, let’s acknowledge the range of professional services that you may need as you develop your property. Those include:

Realtors: for the initial land purchase

Surveyors: for establishing boundaries, and any changes such as subdividing a lot into multiple parcels

Excavation: including clearing land and installing driveways and laneways

Well Services: Most rural areas rely on drilled wells for the water supply

Lawyers: Useful for buying and selling real estate, establishing sale agreements, etc.

Builders: For construction of new buildings



Property Migration: How to Migrate Land in Nova Scotia

“Is it migrated?”

It’s a question that will come up for any property purchase in Nova Scotia. In this post we’ll cover the basics of migrating land in Nova Scotia, as well as some important reasons why both buyers and sellers should care about whether a property is migrated. 



What is land migration?

Call me a cynic, but the root cause of the need for land migration in Nova Scotia is the price of going digital. Instead of funding the entire paper-to-digital conversion for all Nova Scotia properties, the government elected to have property sellers pay for the legal costs on a per-property basis before any property can be sold. It’s essentially the act of recording property information in the Nova Scotia land registry.


Is my property migrated? 

It’s easy to check. Enter the PID in a good real estate search site like Viewpoint.ca. Assuming you found the property, click on it for details. In the accordion menu on the details screen, you’ll see a row for “Land Registry”. Click on that sucker. Look in the center column, “MIGRATED” will show a Yes or a No. 


The provincial website also points out that you can determine if your land is migrated by contacting the Land Registration Office in your county. I’ll use the web, thanks.


I can’t find any stats on the total percentage of Nova Scotia properties that have been migrated. Many haven’t. Generally, the older the property and the longer it’s remained in the same hands, the less likely it has been migrated. 


Do I need to migrate a property to buy/sell?

Yes, very likely. Conversion is mandatory if: 

  • Ownership changes via a transfer of value
  • The lot is subdivided into three or more lots (unless lots are for family transfer)
  • You obtain a new mortgage or increase the principal on your existing mortgage.


Who pays for land migration?

The seller typically pays for land migration. In some private sale arrangements, costs may be shared or the buyer may agree to fund the migration cost. (Note: we have a sample Purchase and Sale Agreement for Vacant Land here) In a normal transaction however, the cost is covered by the seller.


What are the costs?

I’ve migrated multiple properties, and the cost is typically around $1,200 CAD. Most websites will quote a range from $800 – 2,000. Some properties may be more complex, but for the most part the process is quite simple. That amount should include the government’s $100 registration fee for converting a property. The lawyers pocket the rest.


How is land migrated?

You can explore the full details here, but to put it simply, you contact a Nova Scotia real estate lawyer and share the property details. They will look into the title of the property using the Property Online land registry database and determine if there are any registered interests such as mortgages.  (Note: we have detailed info on using the Property Online land registry for a title search). The lawyer will then submit registration paperwork (a document called an AFR) to the Land Registration Office. It includes sections for parcel information (address, PID), registered owner, Qualifications, Opinion & Certificate of Title, and Parcel Description Information. There’s a few checks and notifications that come next, but most of that happens between the lawyer and the Land Registration Office. 


Do I need a lawyer to migrate land?

Yes, I believe you do. I’m a big fan of DIY options, but I think only Nova Scotia-authorized lawyers can complete a property migration. Happy to be told otherwise! We’ve compiled a region-by-region list of Nova Scotia real estate lawyers.


How long does it take to migrate land?

About two weeks generally. But wait! Part of the lawyer’s title history search will comb through 40 years of property history. If you have any sort of hiccup in the process this is likely where it will emerge. I have one property that could not be migrated based on the dates of the wills associated with the property. It was lacking “a good root of title” according to the Real Estate Standards. In this case, the land was purchased at tax sale, which means I’m waiting six years from the original purchase of the land. As the Lawyers’ Insurance Association of Nova Scotia describes, “A lawyer may migrate a parcel using a tax deed as the root of title only if six years have passed since the tax deed was registered”. Four more years to go… 


What property migration issues should buyers be aware of?

Well, if you’re purchasing land that hasn’t been migrated, there’s a small chance that title issues may surface in the process. It’s rare, but as mentioned above, I’ve had it happen to me first-hand. It’s important to know if a property is migrated, but not as important as our list of Good Questions to Ask When Buying Land.


What property migration issues should sellers be aware of?

First of all, not all migrations are a slam-dunk. If you are arranging a private sale through an agreement, that agreement should stipulate what will happen in the event of migration issue. There’s also the cost – you should know if your property is migrated before you attempt to value it for sale, and factor the migration cost into your asking price so that you’re not taking a surprise hit on your profits.


When is the right time to migrate a property?

If you have no plans to sell a property, you can carry on with unmigrated as long as you like. However, if you plan on selling, it’s best to get it done beforehand. 

If you plan on subdividing your lot into multiple properties, you should migrate beforehand. That way you can migrate the full lot for one fee. If not done before your subdivision is approved, each subdivided parcel will need to be migrated separately. 


A few notes on my real estate law credentials…

I have none. As always, I’m sharing my information on land migration simply as a guy who’s been down a few roads and learned a thing or two. For any complex situation involving land migration, you’re best bet is a seasoned real estate lawyer to help you through. 

For more tips on how to buy land in Nova Scotia, visit our Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy Land in Nova Scotia.

We’ve previously written about how the Nova Scotia Non-Resident Deed Transfer Tax may impact foreigners hoping to buy land in Nova Scotia. But here we’re discussing a different type of legislation (the federal government’s Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act, which came into effect Jan 1, 2023). This Act is far more impactful on the ability of foreign residents to buy land in Nova Scotia. And for a change, there’s good news to share.

Today the CBC posted an article titled “Federal Government eases some restrictions on non-Canadians purchasing property.” The government is walking back restrictions that were passed into law earlier in 2023. 

Here’s some good news. People from outside Canada who have a work permit or are allowed to work here can now buy a home. Just make sure you have 183 days or more left on your permit and only buy one property.

What about buying vacant land? Yes, one of the included amendments repeals the existing provision so that foreign buyers are not prohibited from buying vacant land.  The zoning of the plot of land is important. Non-Canadians and foreign businesses can now purchase vacant land that is zoned as residential or mixed use. After purchase, the vacant land can be used for any purchase by the buyer, including development of residential properties. 

This is a welcome change as we are in the midst of a housing shortage crisis in Canada, particularly in areas like Nova Scotia that are seeing high levels of immigration. Allowing foreign residents to purchase vacant land in Nova Scotia, and develop into affordable housing, will help reduce market pressures and support Nova Scotia’s economic growth. 

If you’re ready to start your journey to buy land in Nova Scotia, we recommend starting with our Guide: How to Buy Land in Nova Scotia – it’s loaded with advice for first-time land buyers in NS and written specifically for someone shopping from a distance. In it, you’ll also find links to the various Nova Scotia land use bylaws and zoning maps, statistics on land sales in Nova Scotia, and so much more. 


Since launching BuyLandNS.ca, I’ve had several people reach out to me for help in the process of either buying or selling plots of land in Nova Scotia. Most of my advice is captured in the buyer’s guide to buying land in Nova Scotia, but I do get questions on things it doesn’t cover. Many times people are interested in the process of buying land through a private sale agreement between the two parties. There’s good reason for private sales:

  • The seller can usually save at minimum $3,000 in realtor commissions, savings they can choose to share with the buyer through a lower purchase price  
  • The buyer and seller might choose to arrange seller financing, where the buyer pays for the land in installments over time according to the terms of the purchase and sale agreement
  • Vacant land sales are often less complicated than commercial or residential buildings, requiring less of the professional support and advice that a realtor provides. 

I will say this: realtors can offer amazing value on land transactions. I’ve sold both privately and through realtors. Realtors can bring a lot of wisdom to the process, deal with a lot of inquiries from prospective buyers, and potentially get you top dollar for your land through the great reach of MLS listings which appear on sites like Viewpoint.ca and Remaxnova.

If you feel a private sale is right for you, there’s some things you should be prepared to do:

  1. Have a good Nova Scotia real estate lawyer available to review your documents and to complete the closing process. There are steps like deed transfer and title registration that you need a lawyer to help with. In my experience this costs about $600-800 for a typical parcel of land. Also, if your property needs to be migrated, you’ll need their help for that prior to sale – add another $1,200-$1,400 to your selling cost.
  2. Document your sales terms carefully in a Land Purchase & Sale Agreement. This is the most important document and you want to be sure it’s defensible if the deal goes awry. I worked with a good lawyer to create a purchase and sale agreement. On the next property I sold, I added additional terms based on things I’d learned. I’ve included a generic version of that Land Purchase & Sale Agreement below. It also includes a very simple payment schedule for seller financing.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am sharing this document as a sample only. I am not a lawyer – in fact, 10 out of 10 lawyers agree I am not a lawyer 🙂  This post and the sample purchase and sale agreement do not constitute legal advice, which only your  Nova Scotia real estate lawyer can give.


THIS PURCHASE & SALE AGREEMENT dated the XXth day of (Month), (Year) 


(SELLER’S NAME), of (CITY), in the Province of (PROVINCE) 

(hereinafter called the “Vendor”) 

– and – 

(BUYER’S NAME), of (CITY), in the Province of  (PROVINCE) 

(hereinafter called the “Purchaser”) 

WHEREAS the Vendor is the Owner in fee simple of certain real property known as ADDRESS – LOCATION, also known as PID (insert #) (hereinafter  called the “Property”); 

AND WHEREAS the Purchaser wishes to purchase the Property from the Vendor on the terms and  conditions contained herein (hereinafter called the “Agreement”). 


  1. The Vendor agrees to sell to the Purchaser and the Purchaser agrees to purchase from the Vendor  the Property for the sum of XXXX Thousand Dollars ($XXXX.00) of lawful money of  Canada (hereinafter called the “Purchase Price”): 

(a) The Purchaser agrees to pay the Purchase Price for the Property in three separate installments  directly to the Vendor as follows: 

  1. First payment: $XXXX.00 upon signing of this agreement by the Purchaser; 
  2. Second payment: $XXXX within thirty (30) days of the signing of this  agreement by the Purchaser; 

iii. Third and final payment: $XXXX.00 within ninety (90) days of the signing of  this agreement by the Purchaser; 

(b) In the event that the Purchaser fails to provide any of the above-mentioned payments on or  before the deadlines set out therein, the Purchaser shall incur a five percent (5%) interest  penalty on all late payments, calculated monthly. 

(c) In the event that the Purchaser fails to provide the minimum amount of $(FIRST PAYMENT AMOUNT) by  (DATE), (YEAR), then this agreement is null and void. 

(d) The payments made by the Purchaser shall be non-refundable at the absolute discretion of the  Vendor in the event that the Purchaser does not complete the Agreement. 

(e) The payments made by the Purchaser shall be made to the Vendor by method of electronic  transfer (e-transfer), bank draft or wire order to the Vendor. 

  1. Upon the signing of this Agreement and the first payment referred to in Clause 1(a)(i), the  Purchaser shall have the right to enter upon the property to inspect the Property for building or  logging. 
  2. The Purchaser shall have no right to conduct any operations, including logging or obtaining  building permits, on the Property until the Closing Date, unless approved in writing by the  Vendor.  
  3. This Agreement shall be completed on or before ninety (90) days of the signing of this agreement by  the Purchaser (hereinafter called the “Closing Date”), or any other date as agreed in writing between the parties in the event that the Purchaser fails to provide payments in accordance with 1(a) or 1(c). 
  4. The Vendor and the Purchaser agree that they are each responsible for their own separate legal  fees and disbursements. 
  5. The Vendor agrees to migrate the Title to the Property from the Registry System under the Registry  Act to the Land Registration System under the Land Registration Act prior to the Closing Date.  However, if any valid objection to title is made in writing to the Vendor, which the Vendor is  unable or unwilling to remove, and which the Purchaser will not waive, this Agreement shall be  null and void.  
  6. The Property is vacant land and is being purchased as is/where is with the Vendor making no warranties or representations to the Purchaser, except those referred to in this Agreement. 
  7. The Vendor is to furnish the Purchaser with the applicable PIDs for the Property, after receipt  whereof the Purchaser is allowed seven (7) days from the date thereof to investigate the title to the  Property, which they shall do at their own expense. If within that time any valid objection to title is  made in writing to the Vendor, which the Vendor shall be unable or unwilling to remove and which  the Purchaser will not waive, this Agreement shall be null and void. 
  8. The conveyance of the Property which is subject of this Agreement shall be by Warranty Deed,  drawn at the expense of the Vendor, to be delivered on payment of the purchase price on the Closing  Date. The Property is to be conveyed free from other encumbrances, except as to any easements,  registered restrictions or covenants that affect the Property and do not materially affect the enjoyment  of the Property. 
  9. All lands, buildings, fixtures and all other Property being purchased hereby, shall be and remain at  the risk of the Vendor. Pending completion of the sale, the Vendor will hold all insurance policies  and the proceeds thereof in trust for the parties as their interests may appear and in event of damage  to the said Property, the Purchaser may either have the proceeds of the insurance and complete the  purchase or may cancel the Agreement and have all monies theretofore paid returned without  interest. 
  10. Interest, rentals, taxes, rates on the premises and assessments are to be adjusted to the date of closing. The cost of municipal improvements, (including, but without limiting the generality of the phrase  “municipal improvements”, betterment charges and capital charges for utility or municipal services)  completed as of the date of this Agreement, are to be paid by the Vendor on or before the Closing  Date, unless otherwise stated. 
  11. Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement, if this transaction is subject to the Harmonized  Sales Tax imposed in the Province of Nova Scotia, and hereafter referred to as “HST”, then such HST shall be included in the Purchase Price and will be remitted in accordance with the applicable  legislation. If this transaction is not subject to HST, the Vendor agrees to provide, on or before  closing, to the Purchaser, a certificate in a form reasonably satisfactory to the Purchaser, certifying  that the transaction is not subject to HST. 
  12. Any tender of documents to be delivered or money payable hereunder may be made upon the Vendor  or the Purchaser or any party acting for them and money to be legal tender. 
  13. All warranties and representations contained in this Agreement shall survive the closing unless  otherwise stated in this Agreement. 
  14. Time shall in all respects be of the essence in the Agreement. In the event of a written Agreement of  extension, time shall continue to be of the essence. 
  15. This Agreement shall enure the benefit of and be binding upon the parties hereto, their respective  heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns. 
  16. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which when delivered will be deemed to  be an original and all of which together will constitute one and the same document and each party  will be entitled to rely on delivery by facsimile machine or by scanned email of an executed copy of  this Agreement as proof that the original has been executed by a party in the manner shown on the  faxed or emailed copy so as to create a valid and binding Agreement among the parties whose  execution is so evidenced as if such parties had delivered an originally executed Agreement in the  manner shown on the faxed or emailed copy. 
  17. This Agreement is to be read with all changes of gender or number required of the context. 

DATED at (CITY), in the Province of (PROVINCE) on the XXth day of (MONTH), (YEAR). 


in the presence of: 


________________________________________ Witness to (Seller) SELLER’S NAME

DATED at _________________, in the Province of (PROVINCE) on the ____ day of (MONTH), (YEAR). 

SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED  in the presence of: _____________________ ___________________________________ Witness to (NAME) 


I hope you’ve found this information helpful. If you’re looking for more on buying plots of land for sale in Nova Scotia, check out our buyer’s guide


Hurricane Fiona swept through Nova Scotia recently and caused significant damage to properties in Nova Scotia, particularly the Cape Breton area. If you are a landowner in Nova Scotia, there may be government financial assistance available to you. For a rundown of the various support available, visit https://novascotia.ca/hurricane-fiona-support/

Homeowners have several support options available, but those with raw land may be eligible for financial assistance as well.  There is a forthcoming program to support private woodlot owners that have been impacted by forest damaging arising from Hurricane Fiona. As with the other programs, details will be made available here

Nova Scotia Zoning Maps

One of the challenges of buying land in Nova Scotia is determining what the potential uses of that land may be. Each municipality maintains their own zoning maps and land use bylaws. Nova Scotia zoning codes, bylaws and maps are useful to pinpoint a particular plot of land and determine its what type of zone it is in. With that established, the land use bylaw contains the details on the permitted and restricted uses (e.g. agriculture, commercial, residential, etc.) of each particular zone. Sounds like fun, right?

Well, here’s some good news. In this post, we’ve created the first all-in-one reference for Nova Scotia zoning maps and land use bylaws. We THINK we’ve found them all, but if something is missing or inaccurate please let us know. Of course, zoning is important to consider when buying land, but so are 1,000 other things. Be sure to check out our guide to buying land in Nova Scotia

So, without further ado, here is our 2023 list of nova scotia zoning maps:

Cape Breton Zoning Map – CBRM zoning map

Cape Breton Land Zoning Map – CBRM zoning map: https://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=34b5e62a2a7f4904bde0b56a9e27df05

Cape Breton Land Use Bylaw – CBRM land use bylaw: https://www.cbrm.ns.ca/municipal-planning.html

Halifax Zoning Map – HRM zoning map

Halifax Land Zoning Maps – HRM zoning map:  https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/regional-community-planning/community-plan-areas/halifax-plan-area

Halifax Mainland Land Use Bylaw – HRM land use bylaw: https://cdn.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/about-the-city/regional-community-planning/halifaxmainlandlanduseby-law-edition216-eff-22sep15-caserp16-16-toclinked_0.pdf

Queens County Zoning Map – Queens NS zoning map

Region of Queens Municipality land zoning maps and land use bylaws: https://www.regionofqueens.com/municipal-services/planning/land-use-planning

East Hants Zoning Map – East Hants ns zoning map

East Hants land zoning map: https://www.easthants.ca/government/municipal-departments/planning-development/interactive-east-hants/

East Hants land use Bylaw: https://www.easthants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/LUB-2016-Part-1-Administration.pdf

West Hants Zoning Map – West Hants ns zoning map

West Hants land zoning map: https://www.westhants.ca/planning/planning-documents/3122-mps-map-1-generalized-future-land-use-map/file.html See additional documents here: https://www.westhants.ca/planning-documents.html

West Hants land use Bylaw: https://www.westhants.ca/by-laws-and-policies/by-laws/west-hants-by-laws/3471-wh-land-use-by-law-consolidated-november-18-2021/file.html

Annapolis County Zoning Map – Annapolis zoning map

Annapolis County land zoning map: https://annapoliscounty.ca/Documents/1EzFolderList/CommunityDev/MunicipalPlanningStrategyLandUseBy-law/AnnapolisCounty/Future%20Land%20Use%20Map.jpg

Annapolis County land use bylaw: https://annapoliscounty.ca/community-development/zoning-development-control/291-municipal-planning-strategies-land-use-bylaws

Antigonish County Zoning Map – Antigonish ns zoning map

Town of Antigonish land use zoning map: https://www.townofantigonish.ca/news/757-toa-zoning-map/file.html

Antigonish County land use zoning maps: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Antigonish County land use bylaws: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Colchester County Zoning Map – Colchester ns zoning map

Colchester County land zoning map: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/510215b0a4384cbfaf901dac8b25347a

Colchester County land use bylaw: https://colchester.ca/3494-central-colchester-land-use-by-law-chapter-40/file

Cumberland County Zoning Map – Cumberland ns zoning map

Cumberland County land zoning map: https://www.plancumberland.ca/zoning-map

Cumberland County land use bylaw: https://www.plancumberland.ca/documents

Inverness Zoning Map – Inverness ns zoning map

Inverness County land zoning maps: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Inverness County land use bylaw: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Kings County Zoning Map – Kings County ns zoning map

County of Kings land zoning map: https://www.countyofkings.ca/upload/All_Uploads/services/maps/Master%20Map/CountyLUB_map.pdf

County of Kings land use bylaw: https://www.countyofkings.ca/residents/services/planning/lub.aspx

Pictou County Zoning Map – Pictou ns zoning map

Pictou County land zoning map: https://www.townofpictou.ca/planning/244-land-use-by-law-zoning-map-schedule-a-2/file

Pictou County land use bylaw: https://www.townofpictou.ca/planning-by-laws-and-documents

Richmond County Zoning Map – Richmond ns zoning map

Richmond County land zoning maps: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Richmond County land use bylaw: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Victoria County Zoning Map – Victoria ns zoning map

Victoria County land zoning maps: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Victoria County land use bylaw: http://www.edpc.ca/plan_docs.htm

Yarmouth Zoning Map – Yarmouth ns zoning map

Yarmouth municipality land use bylaw and zoning maps: https://www.district.yarmouth.ns.ca/index.php/municipal-operations/development-inspection/land-development-zoning

Zoning map and land use bylaw for the town of Yarmouth: https://www.townofyarmouth.ca/land-use-by-law-and-zoning-map2.html

Shelburne County Zoning Map – Shelburne ns zoning map

Shelburne County land zoning map (see page 27) and land use bylaw: https://www.municipalityofshelburne.ca/by-laws/377-municipal-planning-strategy-and-land-use-by-law-l-101/file.html

Lunenburg Zoning Map – Lunenburg ns zoning map

Lunenburg County land zoning map: https://www.modl.ca/zoningmap.html

Lunenburg County land use bylaw: https://www.modl.ca/zoning.html

Digby County Zoning Map – Digby ns zoning map

Digby County zoning map (see page 13) and land use bylaw: https://digbymun.ca/1078-regulation-of-wind-turbine-development-land-use-by-law-july-2018/file.html

Guysborough County Zoning Map – Guysborough ns zoning map

District of Guysborough land zoning map: https://modg.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/Existing%20Land%20Use%20By-law%20Zoning%20Map.pdf

District of Guysborough land use bylaw: https://modg.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/LAND%20USE%20BYLAW.pdf

In Conclusion…

We hope you found the Nova Scotia zoning code you were looking for. We’re continuing to create resources to help people with buying land in Nova Scotia. That includes publishing Nova Scotia vacant land statistics, legislative updates for foreign buyers of vacant land, good (and bad) questions to ask when buying land, and of course, land for sale in Nova Scotia. Are we missing something? Let us know!