Ottawa home prices soar in February as sales hit record heights

Winter home sales

A record number of residential properties changed hands in February, the Ottawa Real Estate Board says, as unprecedented demand caused prices to spike and cut the number of days it took to sell a home last month in half compared with a year ago.

OREB members sold 1,390 properties last month, up 23 per cent from February 2020 and well above the five-year average of 1,100. 

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s stock of available resale housing is down 46 per cent year-over-year, sparking bidding wars that have driven the average price of a residential-class property up 27 per cent to nearly $720,000. The average home spent just 14 days on the market in February, down from 30 days a year ago.

“Resale properties are virtually flying off the shelves,” OREB president Debra Wright said in a statement.

While condos are taking a bit longer to sell this year ​– an average of 22 days, up from 19 in February 2020 ​– demand is still strong, Wright added. Average prices in that segment jumped 17 per cent year-over-year to more than $407,000.

“We saw buyer desire for more house space dampen that market temporarily,” she said. “However, it is clear the condo market has stabilized and is starting to rebound with a 19 per cent increase in transactions compared to last year at this time.”

February’s total residential sales volume of $885 million was up a whopping 54 per cent from the same month in 2020. 

“There is no denying that scarcity is leading to a more rapid price acceleration,” Wright said.

“The upcoming spring market will bring more listings and increased inventory; however, the question is whether it will be enough to meet demand.”

The latest numbers come less than a week after the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said home sales in the capital are shifting toward more expensive housing.

While nearly half of all homes trading hands in the capital sold for less than $400,000 in 2019, less than a third of all transactions between last March and October were in that price bracket, CMHC said in a report.

The federal housing agency attributed the shift to fewer new immigrants, government relief programs that helped Canadians manage costs and pandemic-related employment troubles, which disproportionately kept younger and lower-paid Canadians out of the market.