A slowdown in Ottawa’s resale market due to COVID-19 is taking hold, according to March numbers released by the Ottawa Real Estate Board.
While members of the board sold 1,525 properties in March through the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) System, that is an increase of only 1.2 per cent over the same month last year, when members sold 1,507 units.
March’s increase was also negligible compared to sales growth over the past year and more, including a record-breaking year in 2019, which saw a 6.6-per-cent growth in sales.
“Before the pandemic, monthly unit sales were increasing between 10 and 16 per cent from 2019, while March’s sales were just on par with a year ago. This is an indicator that there has been a slowdown in the real estate market due to COVID-19,” said board president Deborah Burgoyne in a statement.
Surging spring market blunted but prices up
The 1,525 units board members sold in March comprised 1,170 homes in the residential property class and 355 in the condominium property category. The five-year average for March unit sales is 1,465.
“Much of March’s activity likely began in the first two weeks of the month before the state of emergency order was put into place,” said Burgoyne.
“In fact, we had a head start on the spring market that was heating up earlier than expected, but activity seemed to fall off as physical distancing measures took effect.”
Despite the slowdown in sales, prices in March posted a solid gain. The average sale price for a condominium class property was $369,311, up more than 27 per cent from the same month last year, while the average price of a residential class property was $559,739, an increase of 16.5 per cent from a year ago. For the year to date, condominium prices have jumped 23.2 per cent and residential class properties are up almost 19 per cent.
Listings droop while Realtors find alternative service models
The board reported 2,048 new listings in March. That’s down significantly from the five-year average of 2,882. However, Burgoyne pointed out that resale inventory in Ottawa has been tight for some years, adding that April should provide a clearer picture of COVID-19’s impact on the local resale market.
She also said board members are leveraging the use of technology, including virtual tours, live streaming and social media to aid clients with the purchase and sale of homes.