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Ottawa’s market is moving, it’s ‘time to get off the real estate sidelines’

This Engel and Völkers veteran gives us the story behind the story

Realtor Sean McCann of Engel and Völkers discusses Ottawa real estate market
Westboro realtor Sean McCann of Engel and Völkers

Sean McCann is best known about Westboro as “the guy with the dog”. 

But when it comes to Ottawa’s luxury real estate market, this Engel and Völkers veteran also knows how to spot “the story behind the story.” 

Since most people don’t have time to do a deep dive into interest rates and their impact on the housing market, McCann does it for them.

One stat he’s been keeping an eye on lately is “months of standing inventory”, meaning average number of units sold. After reviewing the data for January, McCann noted that sales were up 16.5 per cent, in spite of there being less inventory. 

“It speaks to a return of consumer confidence,” he said. He’s careful to add, however, that some folks jumping in are likely high-networth buyers who can afford to ignore market conditions entirely.

That said, McCann sees opportunities for buyers who are still on the sidelines. He wants anyone looking to break the $1 million mark to know if it’s time to strike while the iron is hot.

Fixed rate mortgage rates are better than you think

The Bank of Canada is receiving an unusual amount of attention these days due to public concern about a volatile economy being governed by inflation and interest rates. 

McCann says that if you read between the lines — while also paying attention to fixed-term mortgage rates — there’s reason for some optimism.

“The Bank of Canada conversation is kind of a waste of time,” he said. “The ‘story behind the story’ is that five-year fixed-term mortgage rates are below five per cent right now, which is down from 6.29 per cent in October.”

That means buying now allows you to combine a lower fixed-term rate with the 15 per cent drop in Ottawa home prices since their peak in March 2022. 

“Real estate is on sale right now,” said McCann. “But when the Bank of Canada drops their rate later this year, people will start flooding back into the market and drive prices back up.”

McCann says one option is negotiating a one-year fixed term under five per cent rate today, so you can take advantage of the drop in interest rates next year when you refinance.

Townhome owners, it’s time to level up

Another group who could take advantage of Ottawa’s unique spring market conditions are townhome owners. 

These properties are a hot commodity in Ottawa due to their entry-level price and current scarcity. If you’re a townhome owner, you may want to talk to a realtor about how much your property has appreciated since you bought it. 

Folks looking to move into a townhome now — rather than waiting for one to be built — may be willing to pay more. So townhome sellers have a unique opportunity to get the down payment they need to climb the next rung of the property ladder.

“Both of these opportunities create a window for what I call the ‘aspirational luxury buyer’,” said McCann. “We like to think of it as helping certain buyers upgrade from a Honda Civic to a BMW.”

The most important thing to know about Engel and Völkers could be how they define “luxury”. 

McCann says it’s not according to the price point clients pay for their property, rather Engel and Völkers’ commitment to giving all of their clients a luxury experience.

To learn more, reach out to Sean McCann today.

If you’d like to take a deep dive into the Ottawa luxury real estate numbers for 2023, check out Engel and Völkers 2023 year-end market report.