Good news for buyers in Ottawa housing market: price momentum is cooling

Despite sharp declines in the number of real estate listings across Ottawa, the average price for residential homes sold in October increased only modestly compared with a year earlier while condominiums fetched only marginally more than they did in October 2017.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board calculated Monday that its agents were involved in the sale of 1,059 residential homes last month for an average $449,000 each, up 5.7 per cent year over year.  Board members also had a hand in selling 324 condominiums for an average of $271,350, up just 0.6 per cent from the same month a year ago.

This meant there were still 3,088 active residential listings at the end of October, down 17.5 per cent year over year, and 860 condominiums, down a remarkable 34.5 per cent from October 2017.

Normally a shrinkage of this sort in available listings would push up prices significantly. But that hasn’t happened in Ottawa, at least not across the city as a whole.  Nevertheless some markets did see significant price hikes last month.  For instance condos sold for an average $405,190 in the downtown core, up 13 per cent from a year earlier while in the east, the average price for a condo was $300,000, up nearly 15 per cent over the same period.

In sharp contrast, condos in the western and southern districts sold for an average $302,800 and $223,100 — down 9.9 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Location also mattered a lot when it came to sales of single family homes. Benchmark data provided by the board showed the biggest year-over-year price hikes occurred last month in the periphery.

While Hintonburg-West Centretown agents reported the biggest gains in benchmark prices (these were up 11.1 per cent in October to $540,900), the next biggest price hikes occurred in districts deep in the east and west.

Single family homes in Orléans-Cumberland and Orléans-Convent Glen sold for $391,700 and $438,800 in October, up 9.5 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively compared to a year earlier. Even Blackburn Hamlet — where house price gains have lagged those of the city for many quarters — witnessed an October spike of 8.2 per cent in the benchmark price of family homes to $414,600.

Rises in benchmark house prices were similar in western districts surrounding Carp ($389,200 — up 8.9 per cent), Stittsville ($491,600 — up 8.6 per cent) and Barrhaven ($400,400 — up 8.3 per cent).

Part of the price momentum in the city’s peripheral districts may be the result of people seeking bargains. During the past couple of years home prices have jumped significantly in districts within easy commute of the downtown core. Prices of single family homes in these areas typically top $600,000 but, last month at any rate, there were signs of resistance by potential buyers.

Indeed, six of the 10 districts posting the smallest price increases last month for single family homes were in or near the core, ranging from Lowertown — Sandy Hill ($617,600 — up just 2.7 per cent) to Westboro — Hampton Park ($642,100 — up 4.9 per cent).

For the city as a whole, home prices jumped 7.0 per cent to $431,300 in October, marking the sixth straight month in which growth in the benchmark price slowed. Unlike the case in Toronto and Vancouver, however, the decline has been graceful, easing down from year-over-year gains of 9.2 per cent last April.

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