“What we’re finding this winter so far is that we’re getting more inquiries on our listings than we had last year at this time. We’re moving in the right direction, so this is going to bode well for both sellers and buyers.”
Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,010 residential properties in February 2017 through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service, compared with 908 in February 2016, an increase of 11.2 per cent. The five-year average for February sales is 872. It’s important to note that all real estate is local, and conditions vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
“In the balanced market that we have, there is a buyer for every listing out there, notes Patrick. “It’s just a matter of the sellers being patient to find that right buyer.” That’s because it’s taking a bit longer to sell properties. The cumulative days on market for residential homes was 86 days in 2016, a 26 per cent increase over 2015. Condos took 113 cumulative days to sell, a jump of 28 per cent compared to 2015. Prices were also stagnant in 2016, as had been expected.
On a positive note, the inventory of listings is declining in both the residential and condo markets, making the Ottawa housing market more balanced. As of February 28, 2017, there were 3,414 residential units for sale, a drop from 4,270 as of February 28, 2016. Condo inventory decreased to 1,287 units as of February 28 this year, down from 1,600 units at the same time last year.
“This is good for potential sellers, and it’s going to help buyers, too,” explains Patrick. “What we found over the last several years was that there was so much inventory on the market, buyers almost had too much choice. As the inventory decreases, it’s going to make buying decisions a lot quicker.”
Most house sales in February 2017 were in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range, in keeping with the trend for 2016. “About 80 per cent of Ottawa sales are under 500K,” says Patrick. “It’s one of those markets that’s great for mainstream buyers. The upper-end market for sellers has been a bit of a struggle, but it’s improving.” The condo market, which had been in the doldrums in 2016, also stands to benefit this year from a decline in inventory. The most popular condo price range was between $150,000 and $250,000, which accounted for 54.6 per cent of the sector’s sales.
Positively, observes Patrick, analysts are forecasting a continuing balanced market for 2017. “This makes for a healthier economy in Ottawa. There are many positive signs, such as the continuing LRT construction, increased migration, steady mortgage interest rates, low unemployment, and Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.” Major new projects slated in the next few years, such as the new Central Library and the Civic Hospital expansion, will also be good for the region. “All the elements are there for a much better year,” concludes Patrick.