Ottawa home prices ‘holding their own’ as sales plummet amid COVID-19

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Home sales in the nation’s capital took a dramatic tumble in April as efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic kept many buyers and sellers on the sidelines of the local real estate market, new figures show.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board said Tuesday that 913 properties changed hands last month, representing a 55 per cent decline over April 2019 in what is traditionally one of the busiest seasons for Realtors.

“While the number of unit sales has decreased substantially, residential prices are still holding their own and are up over last year’s figures, with properties often selling above the asking price,” said OREB president Deb Burgoyne in a statement.

The average selling price of a residential-class property ​– which include detached, semi-detached and multi-unit homes – was $521,694 last month, a year-over-year increase of 6.8 per cent. However, that’s down more than $48,000 from March levels, although citywide average sale prices fluctuate from month to month.

Condo prices, meanwhile, averaged $327,813 in April – up 6.3 per cent over the same month last year.

Like many business sectors, the residential real estate industry has been forced to change its practices to respect physical distancing requirements. Realtors are rethinking traditional open houses and increasingly turning to virtual showings and other high-tech tools.

Burgoyne said she expects the market to quickly recover once pandemic-related restrictions start to ease.

“There is still a holdover of pent-up demand in our marketplace,” she stated. “We believe that when the market opens up again, although it won’t be business as usual, sales will rebound and make up for the decline the spring market has experienced.”