Ottawa real estate market keeps hitting new highs

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Local realtors recorded one of their busiest Octobers on record before new rules designed to cool the country’s housing market come into effect, officials at the Ottawa Real Estate Board say.

Some 1,214 homes traded hands last month, according to figures released by the OREB Thursday. That compares to 1,159 a year earlier and a five-year average for October of 1,130.

That followed a similarly busy September.

“October’s sales continued the record-breaking resale trend for the third straight month,” stated OREB president Shane Silva, adding that last month’s year-over-year increase was due to higher condominium sales.

Average resale prices continued to tick upwards in October, reaching $392,579. That’s up 3.3 per cent more than a year earlier and an increase of nearly $9,000 from September. However, it’s still below the high-water mark of $411,791 recorded in May 2015.

Last month, all insured mortgage applications started to be subject to a stress test to ensure that the borrower will still be able to service their loan in the event their situation changes or interest rates rise.

Previously, stress tests were not required for fixed-rate mortgages longer than five years.

The federal government said it was introducing the change in an attempt to stabilize the country's housing markets.

However, the new measures have yet to have much of a local impact, according to the OREB.

“The new mortgage rules announced at the beginning of October have yet to have an effect on the Ottawa market, as the announcement only came two weeks prior to implementation,” said Mr. Silva. “It’s too early to tell what kind of impact the new mortgage rules will have on the Ottawa market going forward. We know that right now Ottawa continues to be a desirable city to live and work, and consumer confidence and job growth remain positive.”