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Ottawa’s 2021 resale market another record breaker

Ottawa’s 2021 resale market was a record breaker, reports the Ottawa Real Estate Board, making it the third year in a row the market set a new high for sales transactions.

The total number of residential properties sold last year by Realtors through the board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) was 20,302. That compares to 18,953 in 2020 and 18,622 in 2019. Last year also saw a new record for dollar volume in the local resale market: $13.1 billion.

Results for all of Canada are not yet available, but records were also set last year in Toronto (121,712 homes sold) and Vancouver (43,999).

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“This significant increase in sales volume reflects the price acceleration that we have seen over the last year and correlates with average sale price increases for the city,” outgoing board president Debra Wright said in a statement.

Prices in Ottawa hit new highs last year. Non-condo properties sold for an average $719,605 while condominiums went for $419,683. Those prices were up 24 per cent and 16 per cent over 2020, respectively.

Keywords tell the story

The local resale market’s trajectory over the past couple of years was reflected in online searches, according to information extracted from a national report on Google search terms by Point2, an international real estate search portal.

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Echoing  the frantic scramble for homes that resulted in bidding wars and surging prices — a double whammy that sidelined many would-be first-time buyers — online searches in Ottawa for “houses for sale near me” jumped 50 per cent from 2020 to 2021.

In another apparent sign that Ottawa’s 2021 resale market left buyers desperate to find a home, searches for “realtors near me” soared an extraordinary 425 per cent over 2020.

December numbers slip

While yearly sales numbers were up in 2021 over the previous year, December was slightly slower compared to the same month in 2020.

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Realtors sold 862 residential properties last month versus 997 in December 2020, a decrease of 14 per cent. December’s sales included 601 in non-condo properties, down 15 per cent from a year ago, and 261 condos, a decrease of 10 per cent from December 2020. The five-year average for total unit sales in the month is 809.

“December’s resale market performed as it typically does with a marked decrease in sales from November as families turned their attention towards the holiday break,” said Wright. She added that December 2020 saw unusually high numbers because peak market activity shifted to later in the year due to the initial spring pandemic lockdown.

Inventory also slipped last month. December saw 600 new listings, down 15 per cent from the five-year average. With less than one month’s supply of units, Wright said Ottawa is firmly entrenched in a strong seller’s market and will continue that way until inventory increases to the three- to four-month supply needed for a balanced market.

Looking ahead

While acknowledging the difficulty of making predictions, incoming board president Penny Torontow doesn’t foresee a repeat this year of the first quarter increases that marked 2021. “We are entering yet another pandemic wave, buyers are fatigued, parents are focusing on remote learning, interest rate hikes are looming.”

Others also foresee a less frantic market. For example, the RE/MAX housing market outlook forecasts a five per cent increase in housing prices this year, a far cry from what we’ve witnessed over the past couple of years especially.

Despite a forecasted slowdown in price increases, Torontow believes Ottawa “will sustain itself as a seller’s market for quite some time until our inventory issues are remedied.”

About the Author

Patrick Langston All Things Home Ottawa homes

Patrick Langston

Patrick Langston is the co-founder of All Things Home Inc. and a veteran journalist. He has written widely about the Ottawa housing industry since 2008.

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