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Ottawa’s real estate star rises in the face of nationwide upheaval

John King
John King, Engel & Volkers Ottawa

John King and his team of realtors at Engel & Völkers Ottawa have been in on a big secret for years. But he says the cat’s now out of the bag on this one.

“We’ve always thought Ottawa has been undervalued,” he explains. “And it seems like the world’s now catching on that Ottawa is a great place to live.”

Indeed, even though real estate prices across the country have stabilized or even begun falling in overheated markets such as the Greater Toronto Area and parts of Ontario’s cottage country, King says Ottawa’s real estate market still stands out.

In fact, while housing prices in Ottawa have fallen 10 per cent from their March 2022 highs, prices are still five per cent higher than last year at this time – a very positive signal to homeowners and long term investors in the local market.

All of this is due to a potent combination of good value and quality of life in Ottawa, driven mainly by federal government stability and technology industry growth coupled with accessible bike paths, ski hills, and other natural surroundings and activities. A new light rail system and other planned amenities don’t hurt, either.

Ottawa’s attractiveness to outside buyers isn’t just anecdotal: The city’s population rises by about 25,000 people yearly, he says. “And they’re often coming for good-paying jobs in the government and private sector,” King explains, adding that the finite amount of land inside the Greenbelt means that land becomes more desirable – and valuable – as the city’s population increases.

The city’s hottest neighborhoods, he says, include Westboro, the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, Glabar Park, Island Park, and Wellington Village, and New Edinburgh.

Ottawa luxury real estate market holds steady

While the Ottawa real estate market certainly took a hit when interest rates began rising, King says this summer’s slowdown has been akin to “hitting a dimmer switch” on a local level rather than turning the lights out completely.

That’s largely due to the factors explained above combined with the strength of the city’s luxury real estate market. High net-worth consumers have more buying power and aren’t reliant on ultra-low mortgage rates. Some may not require mortgages at all. “Believe it or not,” says the 29-year industry veteran, “the higher-end homes seem to be selling extremely well.”

It all equates to what’s shaping up to be what King predicts will be a “normal” fall real estate market after a period of decidedly unusual gains driven by inflation and low rates. “You can call it whatever you want – a stabilization, or you can call it getting back to normal,” he says, adding that Ottawa traditionally sees a strong fall market from just after Labour Day to around November 1.

“I don’t think we’ll see a lot of lowering of prices,” he says. “We may see a balancing, or a stabilization, of prices.”

King predicts an equally strong spring market fueled by a mix of stabilized interest rates and much more modest inflation of between three and five per cent. Along with Ottawa’s many pull factors, he expects many more people to relocate to the nation’s capital over the next few buying seasons.

“With all of the factors we’ve talked about, it just reaffirms that Ottawa is a place to own real estate – period,” King says. “It’s hardy. It’s stable. It’s like that trusted friend. It’s not a market that’s up and down and reliant on unstable things.”