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Ottawa homes gain four per cent in December — still the country's most balanced market

The benchmark pride for Ottawa homes eased up 4 per cent year over year to $341,000 in December, according to a survey published Monday by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The benchmark price for Ottawa homes eased up four per cent year over year to $341,400 in December, according to a survey published Monday by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

That’s considerably below the 14.2 per cent gain recorded nationally by CREA, which estimated the benchmark price for homes at $582,000 in December.

The benchmark price — developed monthly by the Ottawa Real Estate Board and 10 other real estate organizations — tracks housing characteristics such as age of property, number of bathrooms and type of roof. This permits a more consistent view of underlying trends in the housing market than using average or median prices would do.

The price gains reflect in part a significant year-over-year drop in the number of new listings, signifying a tightening of the real estate market. For instance, CREA reported there were 918 new listings in Ottawa in December — a decline of nearly 16 per cent. That was roughly in line with the 14 per cent drop nationally, paced by a drop of 33.5 per cent and 32 per cent in listings in greater Vancouver and Calgary, respectively.

In greater Toronto, the number of listings shrank 12.4 per cent over the same period. (Detailed data for Quebec markets are unavailable until later this week.)

In short, the trends continue to benefit sellers rather than buyers in many markets.

This can be seen clearly in the sales-to-new-listings metric used by CREA. When the number of home sales exceeds 60 per cent of new listings, CREA considers this to be a seller’s market. Anything below 40 per cent, and buyers have the advantage.

The ratio for Ottawa in December was 51.8 per cent — suggesting the real estate market is roughly in balance. A year earlier it was 44.9 per cent.

But in greater Toronto, the ratio last month was 73.4 per cent — up from 63.1 per cent a year earlier. In greater Vancouver, the number of homes sales was 67.4 per cent of new listings — down from 71.4 per cent a year earlier but still a seller’s market.

The best market for sellers last month: Victoria, with a ratio of 80.2 per cent.

The best city for people looking for a home: Saskatoon, at 36 per cent.

CREA also provided data Monday for average home prices. In Ottawa, properties in December sold for an average of $376,100 — up 7.1 per cent year over year. This put the national capital exactly in the middle of 20 markets surveyed by CREA and the local real estate boards. Topping the list was the Niagara Region — where the average home price soared 25.3 per cent in December year over year to $339,000. Housing values just outside greater Toronto have been jumping as properties inside the city have moved out of reach for many would-be home buyers.

Victoria’s housing market posted the largest year over year decline in average home prices. In December, these fell to $597,400 — off 4.7 per cent. Home prices in greater Vancouver and Edmonton also slipped more than three per cent over the same period. In Vancouver’s case, this was from a lofty height: the average price in December was $944,000 — a figure that includes data for townhouses and apartments.

source: James Bagnall, Ottawa Citizen, 16 January 2017