JAMES BAGNALL Updated: October 4, 2019
Maybe, just maybe, a slight cooling of Ottawa’s housing market is at hand. The average resale price for residential properties in September climbed 8.3 per cent year over year to $487,400 according to data published Wednesday by the Ottawa Real Estate Board. While that’s still discouraging for people trying to save for a down payment on their first house, it marks the first time in four months that year over year percentage hikes have been in the single digits.
Despite the relatively low inventories — fewer than 2,800 resale homes were listed at the end of September, down 20 per cent from a year earlier — real estate agents managed to sell more than 1,100 properties during the month, eight per cent more than in September 2018.
This was something of a surprise because Ottawa real estate activity normally slows in the run up to a federal election. “We haven’t seen that transpire this year,” said board president Dwight Delahunt. “It suggests consumers are highly confident in our local economy and real estate market,” he added.
Indeed, Ottawa’s condo market remains very active. The average sale price in September was $309,400 — up 9.1 per cent year over year, marking the first time since January that condo price increases topped those of residential properties. Realtors associated with the Ottawa board sold 436 condos in September, a sharp 26 per cent rise from a year earlier. There were fewer than 600 condos listed at the end of the month, down a remarkable 40 per cent from September, 2018.
The biggest price gains for condos were recorded in the downtown core where units sold for an average $438,000 — up 14.5 per cent year over year. Sellers of condos in the east end also registered double-digit gains, producing an average price of $301,000 while condo prices in the west end actually weakened marginally. The average sale price in the west end in September was $320,000.
Drilling down to the board’s nearly 50 real estate districts produces a few surprises but many of these can be explained by statistical anomalies. For instance, the five districts that reported the biggest year over year jumps in average residential prices were heavily influenced by the sale of one or two monster homes combined with extremely low sales volume. For instance, the district that encompasses Country Place, Pineglen and Crestview saw the unusual sale last month of a $1.2 million property — one of just four resales — helping to produce a dramatic year over year increase of 34 per cent for the district. But strip away the unusual item, and the average price gain for the remaining three houses was a more moderate 11 per cent, producing an average sale price of $663,000.
The same pattern applied in reverse for districts such as Rockcliffe Park and the Glebe, where the average residential property sold for 38 per cent and 20 per cent less respectively than a year earlier. This produced an average of $1.7 million for the two houses sold last month in Rockcliffe and $753,000 for the 14 properties sold in the Glebe, where results were skewed by the sale a year earlier of at least five multi-million dollar plus properties.
The best barometer of how Ottawa real estate is doing can generally be found in the four districts that consistently report the largest number of sales each month. Orleans-Cumberland, Kanata, Barrhaven and the Richmond area together accounted for 35 per cent of the city’s house sales last month. In Kanata, where 109 homes were sold last month, the average price climbed 18.6 per cent year over year to $528,125 while the other three districts saw price gains more in line with the city-wide trend. Richmond and area saw an average house price gain of nearly nine per cent (to $528,200) while year over year increases were about seven per cent in both Barrhaven ($466,100) and Orleans-Cumberland ($450,000).
Here’s the snapshot of how average house prices changed in Ottawa in September, yr over yr. I’ve included units sold so you can see what’s behind the rather extraordinary shifts in many districts. For Ottawa as a whole, the average resale price in Sept. was $487,400 — up 8.3%.