It may be the worst-kept secret in the Maritime real estate -- the Halifax housing market is hot. New data released on Thursday says prices have hit a record high in HRM and the growth rate is higher than other urban centres in Canada – with a seller’s market showing no signs of slowing down.

"The advantage is in the hands of the sellers,” says Matt Honsberger, the president of the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors. “We have a lot less inventory and a lot more demand."

There are just over 2,000 houses on the market in HRM, and they are selling fast.

"Buyers don't really have time to sit and think about what they want to purchase,” says real estate agent Michelle D’Eon. “They go out, they see a home that they like, and they have to jump on it.”

And fellow real estate agents agree.

"I've been in real estate for over seven years now, and so far this year I’ve had by far the most amount of competing offers on my listings and represented buyers with the most competing offers," says real estate agent Jacqui Rostek.

Honsberger says the competition is a benefit for sellers and agents looking to receive their asking price.

"Twenty-six per cent of the houses this year that have sold in HRM have been either at the asking price or above the asking price,” says Honsberger. “So that means you are most likely in some kind of competition."

The Teranet–National Bank House Price Index was released on Thursday and shows Halifax is leading the country in growth, with average house prices rising by 1.8 per cent from July to August and by 5.5 per cent compared to September 2018 -- bringing the average cost of homes in Halifax to nearly $320,000.

"We've had three great years of population increases, and now house prices have been rising to reflect the growth of the city," says Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

Despite celebrating the city’s good fortune, Savage says he remains conscious of affordable housing issues.

"More people moving to the city means more products are being purchased, more jobs are being created and more opportunities as well,” says Savage. “We just need to try to make sure that we all do our part to take care of those who aren't quite as fortunate."

Savage notes the HRM is working on affordable housing issues while the city’s housing market experiences growth.

Meanwhile, realtors say some houses in the city are selling on their first day on the market, often selling beyond asking prices; with some buyers purchasing their homes before they’ve seen them. Their advice to buyers is simply to act fast.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Amy Stoodley