As a Realtor in Ottawa for more than 30 years, I often find myself working with clients who are new to our city and have asked for help in buying a home.

I always look forward to serving as a tour guide for these buyers. As we search for properties, I give them an overview of the city and why it’s such a great place to live. I also enjoy telling them about our city’s healthy and affordable real estate market, which has done particularly well in recent years.

As the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported at the end of 2018, Ottawa has experienced steady growth in both prices and the number of sales transactions over the past decade, but Ottawa remains one of Canada’s most affordable large cities.

If my clients happen to be from Toronto or Vancouver (Canada’s two highest-priced cities for real estate), they are thrilled to see how far their home-buying dollar will go in Ottawa.

In the Greater Toronto Area in December of 2018, the average sale price for a detached house was $945,580. The average price for a condominium unit that month was $554,497. In Vancouver, modest houses often top the $1 million price tag.

In Ottawa, by contrast, the average selling price for a residential-class (non-condo) property in 2018 was $446,661. That was an increase of 5.1 % over the average price in 2017.  The average selling price of a condominium unit was $278,316 an increase of 3.2 % over the previous year.

The Ottawa market has also long been known for its stability. As Canada’s capital, our city boasts a solid economy, thanks partly to the presence of the federal government and thousands of government workers, who generally have secure jobs.

There are other factors that “are coming together at the right time to make Ottawa the right place for real estate,” according to a recent edition of The Hallmark Report, a quarterly report issued by RE/MAX Hallmark Realty.

My team and I at Nancy Benson & Associates have been part of RE/MAX Hallmark since 2016. The report looks at market conditions in the areas of Ontario where RE/MAX Hallmark has offices.

“The Ottawa economy is robust and showing signs of expansion,” the report said.

“Local high-tech companies are growing while major retailers are all announcing expansion plans.” The coming launch of Ottawa’s new light rail transit system this year, it added, “is highlighting the real estate market for condominiums in particular.”

Ottawa’s sales numbers from January of 2019 helped underline the rosy picture.

While the Canadian Real Estate Association reported declines in the number of sales transactions in several major Canadian cities in January, Ottawa saw one of its best January results in decades, with the number of properties sold up 15.8 % over January of 2018. 

Average sale prices in our region were also up in January, with average prices for residential-class properties up 1.5 % over January of 2018 and the average price for condominium units up 7.7 % year over year.

With inventory on the Ottawa market at its lowest level in years in January, the Ottawa Real Estate Board also reported that the average number of days that properties are on the market has continued to decline in our area.

Looking at what’s likely ahead for the Ottawa market, the Hallmark Report said “steady population growth and migratory flow into Ottawa from other parts of the province, in particular Toronto, and a higher share of foreign buyers, are expected.”

I’ve seen examples in my own clients of buyers from Toronto who are thrilled at what they can buy in Ottawa.

One client purchased an older condominium unit that offered a lot of space and a location she loved, though the unit needed some updating. Even after spending on a renovation to make it more contemporary, my client told me how thrilled she was to pay far less in total than what she would have paid for a similar unit in Toronto.

Though spring can seem far away when we’re still in the icy cold of winter, it isn’t too early to get started now if you are hoping to sell your home or condo unit in the busy spring-summer season. I can advise you on any work I feel needs to be done to help your property compete for buyers. If you get that work done in coming weeks, it’s easier to put your home on the market when spring arrives.