Condos on OREB's 'watchlist' as inventory jumps in November

Ottawa condo

Ottawa’s surging residential real estate market showed no signs of losing momentum in November, but local Realtors say condos continue to be on their “watchlist” as more buyers turn toward larger properties in outlying areas.

Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,611 properties last month, up from 1,284 a year earlier and well above the five-year average of 1,257.

“We continue to experience strong activity in Ottawa’s resale market during the time of year when we would typically see a slowdown,” OREB president Deb Burgoyne said in a statement, adding year-to-date transactions are now on par with 2019 despite the pandemic.

“I’m confident in saying that if we had more supply, sales would be even higher,” she added, noting that 1,000 fewer new listings entered the market in November than in the previous month.

But for the second straight month, the board is raising concerns about a softening condo market.

Rising condo inventory

While the stock of available residential properties for sale in the capital is 50 per cent lower than a year ago, OREB says the number of condos listed for sale is 25 per cent higher, and properties are staying on the market longer. 

Burgoyne said the jump in condo inventory is likely due to a number of factors.

“Investor owners who have been renting their units can now capitalize on the robust market, while some buyers are seeking more space or other lifestyle options,” she said. 

“For example, transitioning to working remotely is providing some buyers with the opportunity to explore their lifestyle property preferences.”

Home prices jump 20%

Burgoyne said more buyers are looking at relocating to smaller towns beyond the city’s boundaries, targeting acreages and properties that are closer to golf courses and the waterfront as well as hobby farms.

“It opens up the options beyond the classic property types of condominiums or single-family homes in suburbia,” she explained.

The average house in Ottawa sold for $602,892 in November, up 20 per cent from a year ago. The average condo price, meanwhile, jumped 15 per cent to $361,758.

Those gains are significantly higher than in recent years, Burgoyne noted.

“This trajectory can be attributed to a concurrent decrease in inventory, which continues to be a challenge in our active market,” she said.

Real estate brokerage Re/Max said earlier this week it expects the capital’s stock of available housing to rise somewhat in 2021, prompting it to forecast smaller price increases in the coming months.