Price ceiling on the rise in Ottawa luxury market, realtors say

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Million-dollar home transactions in the nation’s capital used to be almost as rare as a unanimous vote in the House of Commons, but times have changed.

When Nancy O’Dea, a real estate adviser for luxury real estate firm Engel & Völkers, started in the business 15 years ago, the city’s only seven-figure properties were in tony neighbourhoods such as Rockcliffe Park and Rothwell Heights.

“Now, there’s million-dollar properties all over the city,” she says, noting that more than 300 houses traded for seven figures last year.

Since late 2018, there have been three transactions worth at least $5 million in Ottawa, O’Dea says, adding that she believes high-end homes in the capital have been underpriced for far too long.

“If you looked at those same properties in other cities in Canada like Toronto and Vancouver, those houses would be … close to ($10-million),” she says. “I just think that the Ottawa market is becoming more sophisticated.”

Ottawa’s high-end market might not stay undervalued for long, according to a Royal LePage report released Tuesday analyzing luxury real estate markets across Canada.

The brokerage says the median price of a luxury house in Ottawa rose 2.7 per cent to $1.85 million over the past twelve months, while luxury condos rose 2.2 per cent to hit a median price just over $1 million. Royal LePage expects median prices in the luxury home and condo markets to rise an additional 2.5 and 1.5 per cent in the coming year, respectively.

Royal LePage defines “luxury” properties in Ottawa as detached homes priced at more than $1.52 million and condos priced at more than $909,000.

Royal LePage says there’s a price gap between new-build luxury condos and resale units, which in turn drives up prices in the latter category. Executives in Ottawa’s booming IT sector and senior public sector employees are primary drivers of demand, but the brokerage says high-net worth families are also starting to branch into the capital’s luxury market.

O’Dea points to the rise in popularity of home-improvement and real estate-themed programming on specialty networks such as HGTV as a major reason why luxury properties are becoming more mainstream.

“It’s all about improving real estate and letting people see about possibilities,” she says. “Once people see possibilities, they want them.”

– With files from OBJ staff