- Patrick Morris, Real Estate Broker**
- Rob Kearns*
- John O'Keefe**
- Patricia Boudreau*
- Greg Pritchard*
Ottawa, DECEMBER 2014: OTTAWA Real Estate Market Update
AFTER NEAR-RECORD OCTOBER SALES, OTTAWA IS A TALE OF TWO MARKETS:
Despite posting the second-highest home sales on record for October, Ottawa’s real estate market is heading towards a buyer’s market in the upper price ranges and in some neighbourhoods, while it remains a balanced market in other price ranges and areas.
The shift towards buyer’s territory comes as a result of a dramatic increase in the number of residential properties for sale—12.5 per cent more homes listed than in 2013. At the end of October, there were 7,550 active listings on the Ottawa Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
“Across the Ottawa region, 16 per cent of all the listed homes sold in October. Although that’s not bad, in a ‘hot’ seller’s market, 55 per cent of all newly listed properties would sell,” explains Patrick Morris.
In October, members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,121 residential properties (including condos) through the MLS. This was 2.9 per cent higher than the 1,089 properties sold in October 2013. Only October 2009’s figures were higher, with 1,199 properties sold.
The average price of residential properties (including condos) sold in October this year was $355,813, a 1.2 per cent decrease year on year. Crucially, observes Patrick, nearly 92 per cent of all residential sales (excluding condos) were for less than $600,000. “If you only have 8 out of every 100 buyers looking for a property above $600,000 that’s not that many buyers in a city this size.” The most active price range was between $300,000 and $400,000, which accounted for more than one third of all residential sales.
The average price of condominiums experienced a 7.3 per cent year-on-year jump in October, to $290,224, but this was entirely due to six high-end condo sales above $1 million dollars. “They really skewed the numbers,” comments Patrick. “If you remove those sales, the condo market is dismal. Even including those six million-dollar-plus sales, the number of condo sales is down 13.6 per cent compared with October last year, and down 30 per cent compared with October 2012—a massive drop. About 90 per cent of all the condos listed are not selling.”
As for the overall Ottawa real estate market, Patrick anticipates that it will be relatively flat and stable going into 2015, and will likely remain so through to 2016. CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) also forecasts a balanced market in 2015 through 2016. The Crown corporation stated that the average sale price will increase marginally in the next two years.
“This is an excellent time to buy a home or investment property—in fact, one of the best times in the past three decades,” observes Patrick. “With interest rates continuing to linger at near-record lows, mortgage money plentiful, and national employment figures on the rise, this is a fine time to take advantage of the vast selection of properties for sale.”
My house isn't selling after several months on the market. With the holiday season and winter approaching, should I take it off the market and relist it in the spring?
A lot of people ask me this question at this time of year. There are several good reasons why a property should remain on the market.
- If it’s not on the market, it can’t be sold. If a property is not listed, nobody will see it, and therefore nobody will buy it.
- Serious buyers are searching for homes at this time of year. With most people focused on the holidays (or possibly hibernating), the serious buyers make the effort to look at properties on a cold, dark evening or on a dismal and blustery weekend. They are motivated.
- Less competition. The serious buyers out there will be looking at a smaller pool of homes that are for sale over the late fall/early winter. Less competition from other sellers means you will probably get a much better price than you might in the spring, when there is a lot more competition.
- A lot of buyers are emotional over the holiday period. Emotions often run high during the holiday season, when people turn inward and focus on their family’s housing needs. We often sell a house on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve.
- International buyers. Many international buyers who come to town in December and early January don’t observe our North American holidays. They’re here to look for and buy a house.
- Relocation companies and federal public servants are on the hunt. A lot of Canadian relocation companies and federal public servants are transferred with a start date of early January, so they come to Ottawa in November, December and January to search for and buy a home.
HOT PROPERTY: Making Your Home Saleable
A constellation of factors make a property resonate with buyers:
- 1. Location: A house on a quiet street will sell more quickly than a comparable house on a busy street.
- 2. Price: Make sure you list your home at a competitive price not only in relation to similar properties for sale, but also in relation to recent sales in the area.
- 3. Curb appeal and condition: Draw in buyers with a well-kept exterior, and keep buyers’ attention with a clean, presentable home that is neutral in décor. A home that appeals to mainstream buyers will sell more quickly and for more money than one with, say, zebra-striped carpets and purple polka-dotted walls. It goes without saying, but keep the lawns maintained, and shovel the driveways and walkways on a regular basis.
- 4. Staging: Some properties need a spot of decluttering or editing to make the space feel larger and more comfortable. Stagers can help you accomplish this. They can also provide invaluable help in adding pizzazz to vacant houses or apartments with small rooms.
- 5. Depersonalization: Take the “you” out of the home. For instance, take down most of the family photos that adorn the walls. After all, you want buyers to see themselves living in the home.
- 6. Showings: Make your home available for showings.
- 7. Exposure to the right market: Use a combination of media to attract buyers, including social media, virtual tours, video tours, a professional website, and newsprint (which remains a successful avenue of exposure).
- 8. Market conditions: Assess whether you are in a buyer’s market, a seller’s market, or a balanced market, and price accordingly.
- 9. The right agent: Find an agent you feel comfortable with: i.e., one with a good track record, who is experienced in marketing properties, and who has a tailored marketing plan to get buyers to your property.
Hopefully, these tips can help you make that sale!