A record-breaking resale market in Ottawa in 2019 closed out the decade with a flourish, as a strong December helped push some numbers to all-time highs.
The Ottawa Real Estate Board reports its members sold 761 residential properties in December through its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) System, a jump of more than 15 per cent over the 660 properties sold in the same month in 2018 and ahead of the five-year average of 720.
The board reports the sale of 534 in the residential property class, up 13.9 per cent from a year ago, and 227 in the condominium property class, an increase of 18.8 per cent from December 2018.
“December’s statistics reflect the same story we’ve seen all year — historically low supply yet higher unit sales than in previous years,” said outgoing board president Dwight Delahunt in a statement. “Unit sales in the condominium class consistently led the way, offering lower price point options for homebuyers that simply weren’t available in the residential category.”
Sales and prices hit new highs
During 2019, the total number of residential and condo units sold was 18,622, compared with 17,467 in 2018, an increase of 6.6 per cent. Condos saw the greatest growth: 13 per cent, almost three times as high as residential properties. Total sales in 2019 set a board record.
Prices also hit new highs last year.
For the first time, residential property sale prices exceeded $500,000 in several months last year, including in December. The average price for 2019 was $486,590, while condos averaged $310,675. Those prices were up 8.9 and 9.3 per cent respectively over 2018.
The price surge was, in part, due to the low inventory of resale homes that continues to plague the Ottawa market. Incoming board president Deborah Burgoynen says 2020 will continue to see restricted inventory and “reasonably increasing average prices.”
However, Canada and Mortgage Housing Corporation has said prices in Ottawa this year will be steep, increasing 10 to 12 per cent over 2019.
Ottawa and affordability
Delahunt said the price growth is warranted “due to the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand playing out, with limited supply putting upward pressure on prices. However, even with these increases, Ottawa’s real estate market continues to remain one of the most affordable and sustainable in the country.”
Not everyone agrees. A recent report found that two-thirds of Ottawa residents who responded to a survey believe the city has become unaffordable. The report also found that 48 per cent of Ottawans own a home compared to 57 per cent nationally.