After months of gaining steam, Ottawa’s housing market surged in May as buyers set an all-time record for sales in a single month and average resale prices, new figures from the Ottawa Real Estate Board show.
OREB members sold 2,300 residential properties last month, an increase of 19.9 per cent over May 2016. To put that number in further context, the five-year average for May sales is 1,946.
OREB president Rick Eisert said in a statement that last month’s sales numbers “(blow) the previous record out of the water by 315 units.”
“One of the reasons for these stellar numbers can be attributed to the condo market, which has really helped strengthen the whole market over the past several months,” Mr. Eisert added.
Ottawa’s real estate market currently favours sellers. OREB says listings are down and homes are sitting on the market for fewer days, often attracting multiple offers.
Prices, however, remain relatively steady in the eyes of the board. The average resale price in May was $436,625, an all-time high. That’s up from about $435,900 in April and $406,000 in May 2016.
“If we were in a true sellers’ market, we would expect to see a much higher spike in prices,” Mr. Eisert said.
While Ottawa’s real estate market has been gaining momentum since 2014, the recent uptick has coincided with rising employment and a stronger economic outlook in the nation’s capital.
The federal Liberals have been on a local hiring binge over the past year. The public administration headcount working for the federal government in Ottawa-Gatineau has risen by more than 20 per cent, or 26,000 people, since July 2016 alone.
That’s helped to push the region’s unemployment rate down to 5.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board of Canada recently upgraded its economic outlook for the nation’s capital, raising its 2017 GDP forecast for Ottawa-Gatineau to 2.3 per cent.
The latest real estate sales figures come just ahead of the release of a separate report that shows Ottawa’s business community believes the local housing market will continue to gain strength in the months ahead.
The Ottawa Business Growth Survey found that 61 per cent of respondents believed that residential real estate prices will increase over the next 12 months, up from 44 per cent a year earlier.
“There is strong demand and less supply,” said Rick Snell, a real estate broker at Royal LePage Performance Realty. “I think the main reasons are low interest rates and confidence in the Ottawa economy.”
The full Ottawa Business Growth Survey will be released at a breakfast event on Tuesday, June 6.