Summer is over and the fall real estate market is getting back into full swing. I have noticed already just a few days into September that activity is picking up with buyers and sellers. The fall is typically a very busy time to buy and sell in Ottawa. This year might go down as the busiest ever. There are so many buyers out there just waiting for available homes. Our inventory levels were down quite a bit in August and yet our sales were up when compared to last years numbers. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that this will continue to put upward pressure on prices.
There has also been lots of talk of a recession looming. I think this might be inevitable as the US has gone through the longest recovery in history since their last slow down. However, the most common misconception out there is that housing prices always go down in economic slowdowns. That is just not true. The last economic meltdown in the states, of course, resulted in lower prices but that was because the crisis was directly linked to the wild wild west lending practices in the market.
Bottom line is that interest rates are low, Ottawa’s economy is great, and prices are reasonable relative to our average earnings here. I see strength in our Fall market for sure.
The Ottawa real estate market had a great July. We have not had this kind of activity in a July for 15 years. Typically after a busy Spring market things slow in the summer. This year is the exception. We had over 1800 sales on the MLS system. There is just so much demand out there right now for Ottawa real estate. I am starting to see more inventory come to market which is good news. Hopefully, this will lead us back to a more balanced market. Right now there is around a 1 months supply of housing. This is deep into a sellers market. We would need to get to at least a 3 month supply to start getting closer to something more balanced.
The condo market had another strong month. Condo prices have fully recovered and you can see by the sales numbers that this segment of the market is having a resurgence. This is good news for condo owners and builders. Lots of optimism surrounding the Ottawa market right now. I anticipate a very strong fall market. If you are curious to know what’s happening in your Ottawa neighbourhood feel free to get in touch.
The average price of a residential-class property in June was $500,700. This is the first time we have ever eclipsed the half-million mark in Ottawa. When I first started in real estate 15 years ago 500k was a big number! People would say half a million like it meant something! Hard to believe it is now just average. Many first time buyers are now buying at this price point. It is just the nature of a really healthy local economy, immigration, and the increasing appeal of our real estate market to investors. Maybe in the next 10 years, 1 million will be just an average number. At this pace, you never know!!
Inventory has been sliding in Ottawa. In June our inventory was down 23% from the same time last year and over 30% from just two years ago. Condo listings were down 50% from 2017. Just the drop in this inventory is enough to put upward pressure on prices. Combine that with growing demand and we are seeing double-digit increases in some neighbourhoods. It is definitely a seller’s market but for the most part, buyers are restraining themselves a little bit. They understand the value, many homes priced on the high side of the market can continue to sit.
May is typically the busiest month of the year for real estate sales. This year was one of the most active Mays I can remember. We had higher sales volume while dealing with a freefall in available homes for sale. This meant that many of the listings available were sold in multiple offers for the above-asking price. Our team in just the past few weeks have been involved in over a dozen of these situations both on the buyer and seller side of things. There has never been a more important time to have a Realtor guide you through these difficult and stressful situations. There is lots of money on the line on both sides of the equation. Our market is constantly changing. What sold 5-8 months ago in some neighbourhoods is totally irrelevant to what’s happening now. There are many micro markets in the city that I am seeing different trends. Same can be said about price points. As an example, the 350k to 500k price point accounts for 42% of all Ottawa sales. If you want to find out what’s happening in your area feel free to get in touch.
The Ottawa real estate market continues to hit new highs. Multiple offers across the city continue to put upward pressure on prices. There is no secret that Ottawa has a supply issue. Housing inventory remains at record low levels. Sellers are hesitant to put their houses for sale because there is not much to purchase on the other side. It has created a bit of a catch 22. This low inventory appears to be a trend likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The BIG QUESTION I am getting lately is will prices continue to go up or is there a bubble near? I don’t have a crystal ball but I do talk about this in our monthly report. You can find it below.
Interesting numbers released by the Ottawa real estate market this week. The number of sales are down over 12% in the residential class segment. At first glance, one would think it is a slow market but the lack of sales is only because of the extremely tight supply. There is just not much available to buy right now. This is putting upward pressure on prices. As an example, I have a listing that sold in 2017 for $475k. This year it sold for close to $560k. No real work was done on it. It is incredible to see some of these price gains. Much of this appreciation is in the entry-level segment of the market. It is also very much neighbourhood dependent.
I have been saying in my annual reports for years that Ottawa is undervalued. It seems that others are starting to catch on and maybe we are having a correction of prices. They are just going up rather than down. Our population growth was pegged at 8.8% this year. That coupled with the really good local economy and still relative affordability in the housing market and you have this perfect storm of factors. My hope is that we see a higher than average number of homes for sale this Spring. This would help ease the pressure facing buyers and prices in this market! If you have any questions on your neighbourhood feel free to get in touch.
It was another strong month for real estate sales in Ottawa. Members of the board sold 1,005 residential properties, that is up from 978 last year. What is more impressive is that this was done while the inventory is down. The low inventory has left buyers competing over fewer homes. The sales numbers would have been much higher if there was more available for sale. This has spiked the average home price to over 8.6% when compared to February of 2018. The lack of inventory tells me that this trend will continue likely throughout the year. We could continue to see upward pressure on prices. To put it in perspective we have 40% less available homes when compared to February of 2017 with more demand.
The average price of a residential-class property in Ottawa last month was $466,540. The condo market is also lacking inventory holds down an average price of $288,000, this is up 5.6% compared with February of last year.
In the big picture, Ottawa remains the most stable real estate market in North America. Historically we have always posted gains year to year and have weathered economic storms better than any other housing market. This year we are starting to see weakness in other market centres while Ottawa continues to thrive. This is because our housing is still relatively affordable considering our high household income averages. How long I will be about to tout that is uncertain! Everything points towards an extremely active Spring market.
As always I encourage everyone to think about investment properties. It has been one of the most consistent ways to build wealth. We are fortunate to have such a great opportunity in our backyard. Prices are still affordable but for how long we shall see.
If you are curious to know whats happening in your neighbourhood please feel free to get in touch.
January is usually one of the slowest months of the year in real estate and although we had record low temperatures and lots of snowfall… the Ottawa market was hot. In January the residential and condo property classes there were 820 homes sold. That is a large jump to a 15.8% increase in units sold over January 2018. This is the highest increase Ottawa has experienced in decades. This could be a sign of things to come for our 2019 housing market.
The average sale price for homes in Ottawa continues to rise over last year’s numbers. In January we saw a 1.5% increase in the residential class property and in the condo property class we saw an increase of 7.7% over January 2018.
The $300,000 to $449,000 range remains the most active price point in the residential market contributing to 42.5% of homes sold. The $175,000 to $274,999 price range was the most active price point for the condos market in Ottawa, accounting for almost 54.1% of the units sold. If you are interested in finding out the market trends in your neighbourhood, please feel free to get in touch.
As an Ottawa realtor, I’m often asked by my clients that are both selling and buying a home, if they will have to pay CMHC again. It is an important real estate question and we want our clients to have all the answers before proceeding. What is CMHC?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is insurance which protects the lenders and thereby allows buyers to put a lower downpayment on a purchase and in most cases allows more competitive rates.
Now knowing what CMHC is, we know it is applicable depending on the size of the downpayment and whether or not the lender would like the mortgage insured.
Here are some scenarios to help you better understand if CMHC would be applicable to you.
Staying With Your Current Lender
Conventional Uninsured Mortgage – If you are staying with your current lender and your new purchase will have a 20% downpayment or higher, you will most likely not have to pay CMHC unless your current lender requires it as part of their guidelines to be a Conventional Insurable Mortgage. High Ratio Insured Mortgage – If you are staying with your current lender and your new Ottawa home purchase will have less than a 20% downpayment, you will most likely have to pay the top-up premium on the new amount. For example: Your home sells for $400,000. Your Mortgage amount owing is $350,000. You use the equity from the sale of your home for your new purchase of $500,000. This would approximately only be a 10% downpayment and would require you to pay CMHC and the top-up difference. The difference would be $500,000 (purchase price)-$50,000 (downpayment)-$350,000 (previous mortgage amount) = $100,000 (additional new mortgage amount). As of January 15, 2019, with a 90% L-T-V (10% downpayment) the premium on a top-up is 6.25%. So your top-up CMHC premium would be $100,000 x 6.25% = $6,250 (as a new premium would be 3.10% which would be $450,000 x 3.10% = $13,950) Also please note: your mortgage must stay at the existing amortization remaining on your current mortgage for the top up premium to be used in most cases.
Conventional Uninsured Mortgage – If you are changing your lender and your new purchase will have a 20% downpayment or higher, you will most likely not have to pay CMHC unless your new lender requires it as part of their guidelines to be a Conventional Insurable Mortgage.
High Ratio Insured Mortgage – If you are changing lenders and your new purchase will have less than a 20% downpayment, you will most likely have to pay the top-up premium on the new amount or full CMHC on the total loan amount. Whichever is less. This is where having a mortgage broker’s guidance can help answer whether it is better to pay full CMHC or the top-up premium.
When I set out last year to undertake this exercise I was optimistic 2018 was going to be a good year. I could not predict just how hot our market was going to be. Early in 2018, there was a significant shortage of housing inventory across the city. This is usual in places like Westboro and the core of the city. This past year that shortage spread to the suburbs-especially in the west end of the city. The lack of inventory was apparent in almost every class of property and price range. The most active being between 300-450k. In many cases, our clients were offering against as many as a dozen or more other buyers. This is common practice in cities like Toronto but a newer phenomenon here in Ottawa. The spring brought lots of new inventory and this helped stabilize things. It was still a seller’s market but as the year went on it became less competitive for properties. Instead of 12 offers on many of the listings, we started seeing 2-4 offers depending on price range. Let’s have a look at the numbers driving our market.
Ottawa households have one of the highest household income averages in Canada. If you see the graph on the following page you can see that prices are still relatively affordable for Ottawa buyers. This graph looks very different for buyers in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
If you Google best places to migrate to in Canada, Ottawa seems to be the number one choice. I am seeing many more immigrants choose Ottawa as their final destination. Toronto and Montreal are of course popular but when someone researches where to live in Canada, Ottawa comes out close to number one in almost all categories.
The common misconception out there is that these immigrants do not have the funds to purchase real estate. That is not always the case. In many instances, it is their credit or lack thereof that may be holding them back. In any case, these immigrants are coming at a record pace and will likely be purchasing real estate in the future.
MORTGAGE RULES AND INTEREST RATES
Banks have been forced to stress test buyers at a full 2 percentage points higher than the interest rate of their mortgage. This can impact purchasing power by almost 20%. I see the need for this but as house prices rise in major market centres there has been plenty of pushback. Interest rates have been slowly rising and this has put pressure on affordability for some buyers. If this trend continues it will have an impact on the market for sure. With the economy being more sluggish, the need for further increases may be curbed.
Ottawa has always been an underrated city in my view. We have a strong local economy with one of the highest median household income averages in Canada. Our unemployment rate is at historically low levels. It is a prototypical government town that has a growing technology sector and lots of solid, high paying professional jobs. It is only a matter of time before our prices surge and we become a global player in real estate. For a world-class capital city our prices still might be a bargain. Time will tell!
Housing affordability has climbed up to be one of the top issues for millennials. This makes it an election issue. A recent poll found that 64% of millennial voters want the government to do something about climbing prices. We will see the politicians respective platforms later this year. My prediction is that some of these platforms will have policies that will make it easier or more affordable for buyers to purchase. It could mean the return of 30-year amortizations. The stress tests might be eased or there could be a new policy altogether. Something to watch for sure.
This year renters are facing a 1.3% vacancy rate in Ottawa. This is an all-time low. It has made finding a rental very competitive. Often times renters are actually in multiple offers for rental properties. There is a similar pattern in other major market centres across Canada. As house prices increase it is forcing some people to rent rather than buy. Might be a great time to purchase a property to rent out.
GROWTH AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Ottawa is growing and maturing into a world-class city. We should all be grateful to live in a city with such a high quality of life. By March we will have light rail going right downtown that will make life easier for commuters. This will just be the start of a much broader transportation plan. We have a super hospital that will be coming online in the years to come. Lebreton will eventually get the green light for redevelopment. Lots to be excited about. These will help fuel our economic growth in the years ahead.
I believe it will be another strong resale year for Ottawa homebuyers and sellers in 2019. There is still pent-up demand and lots of buyers looking to purchase. This was reinforced just before Christmas as our team was involved in 2 multiple bid situations in the Fairwinds area. The targets were modern semi-detached townhomes, one that we sold for a record price with 3 offers. This is not the kind of activity you would typically see just before Christmas. It is indicative of the market in the entry level price points. The $350k-450k market will continue to be red hot this year. I have spoken with a few builders who had record years. Next year many homebuyers will be on the move to their newly built homes. This will hopefully create some much-needed inventory in 2019.
I predict we will have another seller’s market that will slowly slide to a balanced market by the time 2019 is complete. Barring an international crisis, it will be another great year for the Ottawa Real Estate market.
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