Ottawa house prices soar 42% in April, real estate board says

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Stricter measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 this spring had little effect on Ottawa’s torrid housing market in April as the average price of residential properties continued to soar, the latest figures from the Ottawa Real Estate Board show.

Residential-class homes in Ottawa sold for an average of nearly $743,000 last month, a 42 per cent increase over April 2020, OREB said Wednesday. The average condo, meanwhile, went for nearly $430,000 ​– 30 per cent more than a year ago. 

More than 2,400 properties changed hands in April, compared with 911 the previous year – but the 2020 figures must be viewed with caution, the organization noted. 

The provincial government imposed wide-ranging shutdowns on the economy in April 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic picked up steam, prompting many realtors to halt sales activities.  

“The percentage increases over 2020 figures are vastly skewed due to the first state of emergency last spring, which had initially slowed down the real estate market,” OREB president Deb Wright said in a news release. 

“We recorded 2,026 sales in April 2019 and 2,024 in April 2018. These figures provide a more reasonable comparison, which is a 19 per cent increase in overall sales compared to those pre-pandemic years.”

Still, there are signs that the market might start to find more equilibrium soon, Wright suggested. The number of new listings rose by 400 over April and was 19 per cent higher than the five-year average.

“When the stay-at-home order concludes, we hope that pent-up supply will bring some much-needed housing stock to the resale market,” she added.

Still, the veteran realtor said it’s anyone’s guess where the market is headed. 

Uncertainty about interest rate levels, skyrocketing construction costs, potentially stricter mortgage stress tests and growing buyer demand for properties outside urban areas are all factors that could come into play, Wright explained.  

“On the one hand, record low interest rates, increased household savings, a strengthening economy, and a continued focus on living space during the pandemic are all factors that bolster demand, while steady price growth is encouraging more sellers to list their home,” she said. 

“On the other hand, some people are truly struggling and small businesses are closing their doors. It’s complicated, it’s out of balance, and the course of our local market is not entirely predictable at this time.”