Ottawa home listings surge in September – but so do prices

Home sales

Home prices in Ottawa continued their dramatic upward climb last month despite a surge in the number of new houses entering the market, the Ottawa Real Estate Board said Monday.

After an August that saw the number of new listings hit a five-year high, properties kept flooding the market in September, the local Realtors’ association reported. 

More than 2,900 homes and condos were put for sale last month, OREB said. That’s 400 more than the number of new listings in August ​– but the average house price in Ottawa still jumped 28 per cent year-over-year to $622,557. The average condo, meanwhile, sold for $373,565, a 21 per cent increase from a year earlier.

While OREB president Deb Burgoyne said Realtors are “cautiously optimistic” that the growing supply of new inventory will eventually lead to fewer bidding wars and more modest price increases, when that will occur is anyone’s guess.

“At the end of the day, Realtors represent both buyers and sellers, so a balanced market would be a welcomed relief for everyone,” Burgoyne said in a statement. 

OREB members sold 2,329 properties last month – a whopping 51 per cent increase from September 2019 and well above the five-year average of 1,602.

“The sheer volume of transactions in September, compared to a year ago, confirms the Ottawa resale market is continuing on its upward trajectory,” Burgoyne said. “The resale market in 2020, especially since the outset of the pandemic, has certainly not followed the usual spring and fall cycles we typically experience. This year has had its own distinct ebb and flow, and whether this momentum in our market will continue is difficult to predict.”

Still, Burgoyne argued that the average prices are somewhat skewed by sales of higher-end properties. Median prices in Ottawa – which remove the most and least expensive transactions from the equation – came in at $570,000 for houses and $350,000 for condos last month.

“While average prices in September hit an all-time high, the movement at the higher end of the market is also likely driving this figure higher,” she explained.

“Of course, the fundamentals of supply and demand remain at play, and our inventory shortage will continue to put sellers in a position to capitalize on the current market. Additionally, the dynamics of purchasing behaviour is shifting as buyers become more tolerant of the condition of a property or its location, for example.”

Another leading industry voice, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said earlier this year it believes the Ottawa market will soften in the months ahead thanks to weaker demand for homeownership due to job and income losses.