“It’s been an exciting few months,” observes Patrick Morris. “The whole real estate board is up over last year, which is great. In some areas, it’s definitely a seller’s market, and in the lower price ranges, there are multiple offers for individual properties. This is a positive movement compared with the last six years, which did not make for a very kind market in which to be selling a house. And condos are finally doing better.”
Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 2,300 residential properties in May through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service System, compared with 1,919 in May 2016—an increase of 19.9 per cent, making it the best May on record for unit sales! Condo sales for May 2017 were 44.6 per cent higher than for May 2016, with 444 units sold this year (versus 307 for the same month last year).
Patrick notes that this recent improvement in sales is tempered by the fact that the average sale price increased slightly for houses and condos. “Prices are moderately higher than they were six years ago.”
However, there are positive signs, including a better employment environment. “The government layoffs of the past five or six years have stopped,” notes Patrick, adding that jobs in the well-paying high-tech sector have also opened up, bringing in workers from Toronto and elsewhere. “People have more confidence in Ottawa’s economy compared to what we had over the last six years.”
Another helpful factor has been a drop in the inventory of residential properties available for sale, which has led to a reduction in the number of days it takes to sell a home in Ottawa. Whereas the year-to-date average cumulative days on market was 85 for 2016, that figure has fallen to just 71 days.
“Inventory is now down to more acceptable levels, which is really important,” says Patrick. “Pent-up demand, combined with more confidence in the local economy, has contributed to a much better real estate market.”
This has been especially apparent in the higher end of the market (homes selling for $1 million or more), which has been considerably more active over the past few months.
Since the beginning of the year, 111 million-dollar-plus homes have sold—nearly twice as many as over the same period in 2016. “It’s in select areas that these houses are selling,” observes Patrick. House sales have been most active between the $300,000 and $499,999 range, which accounts for more than half of residential property sales. As for condos, the most active price point has been between $150,000 and $249,999.
How will all these positive factors shape Ottawa’s market over the next few months? “I think we’re in for a good, steady market,” says Patrick. “I don’t think we’re going to see huge price gains like the ones being experienced especially in Toronto, but a nice steady increase (in prices) would be good for everybody.”