Ottawa housing market stays hot through August, home sales up 10%

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Ottawa’s residential real estate market showed no signs of cooling off in August, with the number of home sales up nearly 10 per cent from a year earlier.

Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,731 homes last month, compared with 1,581 in August 2018 and far above the five-year average of 1,522 for the month. 

Sales in the residential class ​– which include detached, semi-detached and multi-unit homes ​– jumped 9.7 per cent year-over-year to 1,300. Condo transactions also continued to grow at a healthy pace, with the 431 sales recorded in August up 8.8 per cent from a year earlier.

“August’s 10 per cent increase in unit sales from 2018 is over twice the percentage increase experienced last year and three times higher than the previous August,” OREB president Dwight Delahunt said in a news release. “However, although the numbers are up, Ottawa continues to undergo issues with inventory as the limited supply persists.”

That supply crunch helped fuel significant price hikes in both the residential properties and condos. The average sale price of a residential property was $484,921, a jump of 11.8 per cent year-over-year, while the average condo price in August was $308,781, an increase of 11.5 per cent from last year. So far in 2019, prices of residential-class properties have increased 8.4 per cent, while condo prices have risen 7.9 per cent.

“Year-to-date average prices, which are more reliable indicators than monthly average prices, show steady, reasonable and sustainable increases,” said Delahunt. “We don’t anticipate there will be a major correction in the foreseeable future.”

The $350,000-to-$499,999 price range continued to be the most popular in the residential market, accounting for 42 per cent of the transactions in August, while 27 per cent of residential sales were in the $500,000-to-$749,999 bracket. Meanwhile, about half of all condos sold last month were in the $250,000-to-$399,999 range.

As of Sept. 2, first-time homebuyers with annual household incomes of $120,000 or less can be eligible to receive an interest-free loan from the federal government worth up to five per cent of a resale home purchase and up to 10 per cent of a new home buy. 

Delahunt said it’s “too early to tell” how the loan program will affect the Ottawa market, noting the new measures “are not helping the supply side.”

OREB’s president said addressing the lack of housing in the National Capital Region needs to be a top priority for all levels of government. 

“Coming into the fall months, which are typically busy, we expect the market will continue to pick up steam,” he added.