Ottawa home sales surge 50% in March: OREB

Home sales

Ottawa’s booming housing market kept building momentum in March as sales jumped more than 50 per cent compared with a year earlier, the Ottawa Real Estate Board said Wednesday.

OREB members sold 2,285 residential properties last month, up from 1,514 in March 2020, the organization said. Last month’s total is also well above the five-year March average of 1,688.

But OREB president Deb Wright said the dramatic increase comes with a caveat. She noted that 2020 figures were skewed somewhat by the onset of the pandemic, which temporarily dampened demand in what had been a surging market. 

“Measuring against a drastically reduced comparable made this year’s figure jump,” Wright said in a statement.

At the same time, the veteran realtor said Mother Nature also gave a boost to what was already a frothy market in March. 

“Typically, real estate is heavily influenced by the weather, and we had remarkable and unseasonably warm temperatures last month, which facilitated buyers’ ability to view and purchase homes,” she said, adding that a “significant uptick” in new listings also introduced more inventory that was quickly snapped up.

Residential-class prices up 35%

“Ongoing pent-up buyer demand meant that most of the properties that came on the market in March were quickly acquired,” Wright said.

Almost 80 per cent of homes sold for more than the asking price last month, up from 60 per cent in March 2020, OREB said.

The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $437,041 last month, up 18 per cent from 2020, while the average sale price for a residential-class property was $758,802, an increase of 35 per cent from a year ago.

The average price of a residential-class property is $729,897 so far in 2021, up 32 per cent year-over-year. Meanwhile, the average condo is selling for $415,054, a 17 percent increase over 2020.

While saying she believes Ottawa’s market is still manageable, Wright said more supply is needed to help ease the city’s housing crunch.

“These accelerated price growths are purely a result of long-term inventory shortage,” she said. “Until there is action at all three levels of government to resolve our supply challenges, our housing prices are not going to stabilize. And this phenomenon is not occurring in our market alone; housing stock scarcity is a nationwide issue.”