An unusually hot December in Ottawa’s resale real estate market capped a successful year that saw average sale prices up 20 % for residential properties and 19% for condo units, the Ottawa Real Estate Board has reported.

As we all know, it was a challenging year as we dealt with a pandemic and created new safety protocols for real estate transactions. But the Ottawa market rebounded spectacularly from a brief dip early in the year, when pandemic lock-downs started.

In December of 2020, members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,002 properties through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system.

That’s an increase of 32.4 % over the 757 properties that were sold in December of 2019. And it’s well above the five-year average for December sales in our region, which is 779.

The sales for December were typical of a busy year that saw inventory lower than usual for much of the year and multiple offers becoming common in the most popular neighbourhoods, with many properties selling for above the asking price.

Looking at the total sales for the year, the Board reported the average sale price for a residential-class property in 2020 was $582,267. That’s an increase of 20% over the average sale price in 2019.

The average sale price for a condo unit, meanwhile, was $361,337 _ an increase of 19% over the average sale price in 2019.

“Our market performance in December capped off a year for resales that clearly shows a market that continued to thrive, even through the challenges of 2020,” said the 2021 Ottawa Real Estate Board President, Debra Wright, in a statement.

“At the start of the pandemic, we didn’t know what to expect. We had a momentary stall, as did most businesses. However, once real estate was deemed an essential service, Realtors worked with buyers and sellers to ensure safety in the process, and the market picked back up and accelerated past all expectations throughout the remainder of the year.”

The total number of condo and residential units sold in 2020 was 18,971 _ up 2% from the 18,613 properties sold in 2019, the Board said.

A look at the total dollars involved illustrates the larger than usual price increases in our area over the past year.

“Although the number of units sold was only slightly higher than last year, the total sales volume topped a record-breaking $10 billion, compared to $8.5 billion at the end of 2019,” Debra Wright said.

“This is, in effect, a stark illustration of the increase in Ottawa property values over the course of the year. For example, in 2019, 35% of properties sold were sold at or below $400,000, while in 2020, only 16% of homes were,” she said.

The year-over-year price increases in Ottawa have risen rapidly, in part because of low inventory for the past year.

“At the end of 2020, average prices increased by 19-20% over this time last year. In 2019, we saw a 9% overall increase for both residential and condo properties, compared to 3-5% in 2018 and 3-7% in 2017,” Debra Wright said.

She said she fully expects Ottawa’s resale market to continue to be robust in 2021, for several reasons.

“I believe that Ottawa is just coming into its own as a national capital city. As such, it is sheltered and resilient in way that other markets are not _ with consistent government and tech-sector employment that is particularly conducive to working from home, as our current circumstances have required. We may have been privileged with lower price thresholds in previous decades, but perhaps the market is now beginning to reflect the real estate property values of a national capital.”

She added: “There are no indicators to suggest this is an overheated market. It is simply very active, insulated and strong.”

As always, the Ottawa Real Estate Board cautions that while average selling prices can be useful in establishing trends over time, they should not be taken as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. As with all cities, conditions in Ottawa vary by neighbourhood.

If you’re considering buying or selling in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you about conditions in your area and the expertise I can offer, with more than 30 years of experience assisting clients in a wide range of markets.

As I wrote in one recent post, however, with the low inventory in our region, it’s a good idea to get in touch with me well in advance of when you want to buy or sell.

If you’re a buyer, we need to do some networking to try to find your ideal property. If you’re a seller and your property needs some touch-up work or minor renovations before listing, we will need time to get the work done. I know from experience that homeowners are sometimes facing a wait of several months because of a shortage of available workers.

The sooner we can start preparing, the better.

You can read more about me and view my current listings at www.nancybenson.com. Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.

Best wishes to all of you for 2021.