Consider yourself fortunate if you live in Ottawa and have been putting aside funds towards buying your first home.

For many years, Ottawa has been one of the most affordable large cities in Canada, with average resale home prices about half of what they are in Vancouver and Toronto, whether you’re looking for a condominium unit or a traditional detached house.

This makes it easier for first-time buyers in Ottawa to put together that down payment and enter the real estate market.

Many of my first-time buyer clients decide to buy a condominium unit as their first home, because prices are generally lower than for residential homes, and it can be easier to come up with the down payment. Many also like the hotel-like amenities some condos offer and they choose a condo in a central location that allows them to walk to work.

In November, the most prevalent price point for a condo unit in Ottawa was the $225,000 to $349,000 range, which made up a full 57% of condo sales for the month. The average sale price for the month was $313,734.  

Prefer a traditional house? The average sale price for a residential-class property in Ottawa in November was $501,201. Nearly 40% of houses sold in November were in the range of $350,000 to $499,999.

You could purchase a $480,000 home with as little as $24,000 down. In central Toronto, by contrast, you’d be very lucky to find a tiny one-bedroom condominium apartment in that price range.

Keep in mind that when you have less than a 20% down payment, you are required to also pay for mortgage insurance. This insurance protects the lender if you were to default on your loan. It is calculated based on the size of your loan and the amount of your down payment.

Your lender can give you more information about this fee and can arrange to have the insurance added to your mortgage payments. Many buyers consider the fee worth the price to help them get into the market sooner rather than later.

Of course, there are other costs you have to prepare for beyond the down payment, including lawyers’ fees and property taxes. You need put aside sufficient funds for these expenses as well as your down payment.

In my more than 30 years as a Realtor in Ottawa, I’ve helped many first-time buyers, and I always enjoy taking them through the process, from checking out the properties in their price range to finding one they love. It’s particularly rewarding when I hear from first-time buyer clients that I helped them feel in control and at ease with a process they initially felt a little nervous about.

If you’re interested in buying now or in the near future, I’d love to meet and tell you about the Ottawa market and what’s out there in your price range. You can read more on my website, at www.nancybenson.com.