Ottawa real estate news, discussion and inside broker information brought to you by Gord McCormick, Broker of Record and Dawn Davey, Broker 613-435-4692 firstname.lastname@example.org www.oasisrealtyottawa.com
Stittsville has experienced a building and population boom in recent years and is now approaching 35,000 inhabitants. Quite a leap from being “just beyond the fringe” that was a popular radio commercial tagline back when Stittsville was a quiet village removed from both urban and suburban Ottawa with a population of 3,000 or so. In fact, when combined with Kanata, the area has the largest population and number of residences in the Ottawa metro area and is the fastest growing. Stittsville is projected to have close to 60,000 residents within the next decade! So with all the new construction going on, it is no surprise that real estate has made strong gains in 2019.
This year’s residential numbers: We are using the residential resale numbers for the 3 main Stittsville MLS® zones, though October 2019.(does not include any condo sales)
Stittsville North MLS® zone 8211 for sales north of Hazeldean Rd
Stittsville Central MLS® zone 8202 for properties between Hazeldean Rd and Abbott St.
Stittsville South MLS® zone 8203 for properties south of Abbott St.
For comparison purposes, the Ottawa MLS® as a whole has recorded sales increases of 3.8% in unit sales and an average selling price increase of 8.4% for residential properties to a price of $484,891.
North Stittsville (8211) is rocking! This area closest to highway 417 has had and continues to have growth and new construction with a good variety of residential housing to cover many price points. It also offers best access for commuters who rely on the 417 for commuting purposes.
Unit sales are up a strong 20.1% this year and the average selling price is up 11.9% to $473,866
Central Stittsville (8202) sees strong price growth but inventory limits unit sales: Unit sales in Central Stittsville are actually down this year by 3.2%, perhaps reflecting the lack of listing inventory available. Still, good demand has pushed the average price in this area up 13.6% to $552,472.
South Stittsville (8203) unit sales up 7.1% and the average price sold this year is $579,098, up 8%. Most of these unit sales are resale homes and we have no visibility in to the numbers of new homes being sold in Stittsville but it is obviously significant at the present time, with most of this growth in the eastern section of Central Stittsville and in South Stittsville.
Outlook for 2020:
Expect to see continuing sales and price growth as all the fundamentals continue to look good with the local economy and the pace and range of new home construction in the area is significant and pretty compelling for a lot of homebuyers, who may also feel that they should buy now, before prices escalate any further. Those who have existing homes to sell then of course, offer that existing property for sale to co-ordinate with the new home possession date.
So it should continue to be “all systems go! For Stittsville real estate in 2020.
Motivates buyers to book a showing: Quite often we find that buyers will choose to book a showing in advance of a scheduled open house. This may be just a matter of scheduling or it could mean they want to get in early to take a look at the property and potentially get first crack at it. Getting buyers in to the property is always a worthy goal and we do believe that the scheduling of an Open House does spur other buyers to get in to see it asap.
Aggregates showings and saves seller time and trouble: Buyers will schedule a private showing at random times throughout the day and in our hot sellers’ market, this can mean a lot of private showings on a daily basis. So much so, that some sellers even vacate their properties for the first 3-5 days to allow the buyer/showing frenzy to happen without totally upsetting their lives and schedules. By scheduling an Open House, some of these buyers may choose to attend that event, rather than booking a private showing thus alleviating the need for the seller to vacate the home. (and making sure it is clean and tidy when the do)
This really works well for families with small children or pets that can spend less time tidying up for multiple showings and also removing pets.
We get feedback: When we get a chance to chat with buyers about the house or hear their comments to one another, we are getting valuable feedback for our own knowledge and for the sellers. What do the buyers really like about the property? What don’t they like? When we here the same things consistently, it helps clarify where the property and price fit in the marketplace and may help us tweak our marketing strategy for the sellers. If all buyers have a similar issue or concern then it helps us build a strategy to overcome that objection and/or discuss remedies with the seller.
We get to know our product better: Even though we may know the property quite well, the more time we spend there and the more feedback we receive-the better we fully understand the property. After all, in most cases, we may get a couple of 10-15 minute tours through the property with the owner which is certainly not enough time to commit every detail to memory or notice the level of details that buyers may wish to have explained. We often find little things that a seller can do as a result of our time in the home during an Open House. We can often find corrections to listing information that may been incorrectly supplied by the seller or through a typo on listing input. Ie the age of a furnace, air conditioner, windows or some other important system or component.
Events drive activity and greater activity usually means more sales opportunities: Open houses are great events for a listing agent to advertise around and focus their marketing efforts to gain the best possible reach and exposure. Because there is a time deadline, it should focus those potentially interested in the property to have a good look at it.
Even if they are unsuccessful, they still work: Huh??? We have had a lot of blockbuster open houses that result in multiple offers and sales and we have had just as many that are total duds. As a listing agent, there is nothing worse and more boring than feeling like the Maytag repair man for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon when no one is coming to see you! After spending time and money in scheduling and prepping for the open house and getting the sellers to vacate for 2 or 3 hours and investing one’s own time, it can be more than annoying when the turnout is poor.
It really does force one to have a good look in the mirror, though and a critical look at the property as well. If one is getting good online activity and reasonable private showings then one should get decent open house turnout as well. If not, one has to assess how well the event was advertised/marketed and if the listing, photos, presentation and pricing on the property are correct.
The more focused activity early in a listing should bring great attention from buyers, since the listing is new and they have not seen it before. If hundreds or thousands are looking at the property online but not booking private showings or coming to an Open House, then there is some kind of disconnect. Buyers are not seeing enough appeal or value at the price level to take the time to come and see the property in person which is not a good sign. It does however, give us some good comparative data and perhaps some feedback from buyers who did view the property. On that data and feedback, we can often have important discussions with sellers or amend some portion of our online presentation, marketing or pricing.
Other open house types: Some listing agents have had success with the “neighbourhood” or “ commuter” open house. These may be along the “sneak peek” marketing line and advertised locally. The commuter open house will typically run 5-7 PM when buyers can pop by on their way home from work and typically occur very early in the listing when it appears it is a good first chance to see the property.
The oft flaunted “Brokers’ Open” one sees on HGTV or Millionaire Listing tv shows, is rarely practiced in our market. (talk about the Maytag repairman!)
Use of open houses can be a contentious topic: There are quite diverging opinions on the value of open house marketing, with some realtors being strongly opposed to their use. Just look online and you can find dozens of articles on why sellers should never consider holding an Open House. We feel completely the opposite, of course, but the bottom line is that sellers can make their own choices and if they don’t see the value then of course, are not required to hold one.
We have many thoughts on why these other Realtors so strongly “DIS” open houses and we will cover these in a future post. Plus “How so many Realtors sabotage their own open houses”, coming soon!
The Ottawa real estate market just keeps rolling along, with another double digit sales increase recorded in the month of October and continuing listing inventory shortages, with less than 2 months of anticipated sales currently on the market.
Residential unit sales for the month were 16.9% more than October 2018 and the number of condos sold was up 23% during the month.
Monthly average selling prices upward bound: The average selling price of a residential property during October was $483,405 an increase of 7.6% over last year and the average condo sold for $319,208 which was up 18.3%. On a year to date basis, the average residential price is up 8.3% and the average condo is up 9.1%
Listing inventory continues to slide: Residential listings are down 22.3% vs last year at the same time and condo listing inventory is down a significant 38.8%. New listings are not taking up the slack and are pretty flat vs last year, so our increasing sales continue to chew through available listing inventory.
Our number of listings currently available, is less than 1 per Realtor member of the Board.
36% of homes selling above asking: This is a great new stat the Board is tracking and providing, so members and consumers are aware of the real degree of multiple offers. So while it is quite common, it is not happening for every listing. The Board noted in its release that in Oct 2018, only 21% of homes sold were sold above listing price, so our continuing inventory shortages are creating more competitive offer activity, although it should also be mentioned that a high % of listings are holding back offers, which can create a multiple offer situation.
Election fallout? With the minority Federal government coming out of the election, it is highly unlikely the local economy will suffer, as both the Libs and NDP try to out-left one another, which only means more program money and staffing in the National Capital Region. So our local economy should continue to be quite healthy for the duration of the minority government.
Recent job numbers:
Ottawa’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in October, the lowest it has been since 2007, yet another positive indication that the bull market in real estate should continue in the short to intermediate term, those planning a move may consider acting on their plans, as that home under consideration may well cost $30 or $40K more next year.
Normally the start of hibernation period…but perhaps not this year? Mid November is normally when real estate activity eases seasonally and troughs out for 90 days or so, until we get through the worst of winter and then things get brighter and more active mid-February on. This market, however, should continue to post gains, though the seasonal slump should still occur as usual.
We are big fans of open houses, unlike many agents who tend to pooh-pooh their use. (That’s a topic for another day!)
We have found tremendous success for our sellers by using a dual open house strategy during the first week our listings launch. Here are some of many reasons this strategy works:
Facilitates access for buyers: Buyers like open houses. It is an easy way to have a look at a property with a low commitment level, regardless of where a buyer may be in their purchasing cycle. Many buyers fall in to the “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it” category and may watch or browse the market for an extended period, before finding one that ticks all their boxes.
These buyers often “don’t want to bother their agent” and would probably not otherwise book a showing to see the property, without open house availability. Many buyers don’t wish to engage their agent until they are really ready to buy. Many an agent will get a phone call on Sunday evening or Monday morning, from a client who has seen a property at an Open House on the weekend.
We get to “sell” our client’s property! The MLS® network is remarkably effective at putting buyers and listed properties together. One drawback is that as a listing broker, we rarely get to speak directly to a prospective buyer of the property, since that buyer contact is normally managed by another agent in the buyer representative role. So, while we can sell to the buyer rep, we rarely have the same opportunity to speak directly to the buyers. Open Houses give us that opportunity and who better to speak to our own listing than us?
Many open house visitors are quite cautious and reserved (wonder why that is?…we’ll have a post on that in a week or two) but generally speaking, the most interested buyers are very engaged and detailed in checking out the house. Many ask excellent questions too and it is a great time to field those questions and address any objections or possible misconceptions.
The better informed a buyer is and the more chance they have to investigate a property, the less the chance of a conditional sale falling through which is happening with almost frightening frequency in this hot sellers’ market.
We can get a read on potential buyers: We can gauge interest levels by the amount of time a buyer or couple spend in the house. Usually, the longer the stay, the greater the interest. We can also often tell if one half a buyer couple is more interested than another. We can often get a feel for the buyer’s level of interest and key features that may come in handy at offer/negotiation time.
Buyers can get multiple chances to see the property: Too often in our hot sellers’ market, a buyer gets to see a property once and then has to make up their minds about submitting an offer. This is leading to an unprecedented number of conditional sales falling through. By providing two additional chances to visit the property via our open houses, buyers may get a better feel for whether the property is the right one for them.
We even see some buyers twice when the visit both open houses, which is also a good sign that they are activity considering the property.
Buyers see level of interest from other buyers: While we don’t intend to create a boiler room high pressure sales environment, (and we are not high pressure!) we think it is very much in the sellers favour for all buyers to see a house full of prospective buyers at an open house. This shows everyone that the house is getting strong demand and may help motivate them to make an offer and make a strong offer. The fear of loss and need to compete motivation of some buyers is tweaked when a busy open house is experienced.
Open Houses are very democratic: We think open houses allow a wider cross section of buyers to consider the property and in generating more face-to-face visits to the property, we are engaging a larger cross section of the buyer pool. This is both fair to all buyers (not just the early-bird-gets-the-worm buyers and their agents) Many properties are publicized in advance of MLS® publication which often skews the playing field in favour of just a few buyers. While this may be good for those buyers and their agents, it is not necessarily best for our sellers. More exposure-more buyers should equal better and true market value in our opinion.
Best when holding offers: Dual open houses are a great strategy when holding back offers, too. It gives Realtors and buyers ample access to see the property 2 or even 3 times and determine their level of interest and how they plan an offer strategy. Some may even choose to do a pre offer inspection which would help strengthen their offer.
There are a ton of other intangible benefits to dual open houses too but we’ll leave some of those for another post. Right now, it’s late Saturday morning and we have to get ready for our first Open House this weekend!
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record Principal Broker, Ottawa Real Estate Board Dawn Davey, Broker Oasis Realty 613-435-4692 email@example.com
…and do we need this many? There are just shy of 3,100 Realtors in the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) at time of writing. This is one Realtor for every 322 residents in our City of a million population and one for every 129 residences in the city. (Based on 400,000 residences-an approximation)
This doesn’t count the Quebec side, as real estate is regulated provincially, so there is a completely different real estate market on the other side of the river.
If you think this sounds like a lot of Realtors, how about Toronto? The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) references over 53,000 members, serving the GTA and its 6 million plus population. This works out to 1 Realtor for every 113 residents or almost triple the concentration here in Ottawa.
What do Realtors think? Most Realtors would agree that there are far too many agents, far too many part time or inexperienced agents and far too many poorly trained agents, doing 0-2 deals a year and just too many poorly qualified agents that reflect poorly on the industry as a whole.
Why are there so many agents? Relatively easy access to industry and potential for significant income: The barriers to entry in real estate have always been relatively easy, with a suite of courses to be taken and minimum hurdles to pass and obtain registration to trade in real estate. The potential for significant income is available from day 1, too and does not necessarily require years of apprenticeship to realize an uptick in income.
This is helpful for franchise broker networks, too-as they need an ever increasing supply to agents to optimize their profits. Realtors are independent contractors typically on 100% commission and are highly mobile and quite often move from broker to broker or out of the industry. So while no Broker of Manager would say they subscribe to the “masses of asses” philosophy, there is certainly a need for brokerages to maintain and grow their headcount to remain profitable.
Population growth and geographic range:
Our population has grown and with that the number of homes, condos and commercial and industrial properties, therefore more professionals are needed to service this growth. Ottawa is spread across 2,800 sq. km and incorporates urban, suburban, exurban and rural areas plus numerous smaller villages and communities, many with their own somewhat unique real estate needs. This alone dictates a wide network of professionals is required.
The increasing complexity of the real estate marketplace and our geographic sprawl, has meant increasing levels of specialization for Realtors, in order to become experts in a particular market, be it geographic or vertical or by property type.
Volume of business:
Our business volume in Ottawa has grown significantly, doubling the number of residential transactions completed over the last two decades and given the labour intensive nature of the business, this necessitates additional personnel.
Buyers and sellers require a highly responsive and available Realtor on their team, so there are limits to how many clients and customers a Realtor can successfully engage at any one time.
Large numbers of Realtors paying fees keep costs down for all: Given that Realtors are on commission, there is not a huge $ cost for a brokerage to carry a Realtor, and all have quota’s and franchise fees and other overheads to pay, so there is a bias to having more rather than fewer Realtors contributing to overheads.
Even those Realtors who say there are “way too many Realtors” benefit from the fact that their own fees are much lower when 3100 Realtors are splitting Board fees (for example) compared to what it would cost them, if there were only 1,000. But believe me, if these same Realtors had to pay 3x the fees for insurance, provincial and national association fees, provincial registration fees and broker splits…they would not be in favour
Demographics and diversity: Internal migration and a wave of new immigrants to Canada, have both helped fuel Ottawa’s growth and also its Realtor population. Home buying and selling is often quite tightly aligned with cultural, religious, nationality, language or other demographic group and our Realtor ranks have grown significantly to reflect this.
Realtor population fluctuates: Being commission based, the Realtor population can fluctuate widely. Though Ottawa is one of the most stable markets in Canada, we have had some historic highs and lows, brought on by adverse economic conditions. At the end of the 1980’s and what had been a very strong period for real estate, the Ottawa Board had 2,566 members…a pretty robust number!
This changed quite dramatically through recession and government cutbacks in the 1990’s, where the Realtor population contracted to only 1,341 members by the end of 1996…a 47.7% drop. It would take until 2009 to get back to the total membership number two decades earlier!
With low mortgage rates and continued growth in Government and high tech in Ottawa, the Board has grown from 2,547 at the end of 2009 to our current level of 3,078, though the numbers look to be pretty flat going forward.
While there are certainly some good arguments for fewer, better trained and more professional Realtors, we believe that the fact that there is a healthy, thriving and robust Realtor and Brokerage industry is indicative of the health of the overall market and provides more choice and competition for consumers.
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage 613-435-4692 firstname.lastname@example.org
Most people have either had a personal experience or heard an outrageous story about nefarious Realtor conduct or practice. Our Realtor only Facebook page is full of them and believe me, the Realtor community is furious with this type of behaviour, as it tends to tarnish all in the profession. Most real estate professionals and brokerages operate fastidiously within the myriad of rules, regulations and policies that govern professional real estate. (more on this later)
But what is a consumer to do?
Consumers have many options they can pursue:
Speak with the offending Realtor directly and try to clear the air or gain some remedy from the perpetrator.
Contact that brokerage manager or Broker of Record (who is in most cases, also the owner)
Contact the Ottawa Real Estate Board and lodge a complaint. The Board has its own Discipline Committee and quasi-judicial processes and has recently begun to fine members for a variety of offences under Board rules and MLS® policies.
Contact the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) the regulator and licencing authority for real estate in Ontario. RECO has sweeping powers including the ability to levy large* fines, licence suspensions and even criminal charges. *one prominent Ottawa broker was fined over $200,000 several years ago for obstructing a RECO investigation and falsifying records.
Contact a lawyer to see if there are grounds for a legal case.
Many, many pieces of legislation affect activities around professional real estate (which is one of the problems) and those with a beef may have a difficult time sorting out who to contact. If it is a rental matter, then it might be to the Rental Housing Tribunal. If a privacy matter, the federal Privacy Commission. Aggressive and unwanted or unauthorized marketing may require a complaint to the Competition Bureau or the CASL (anti-spam) folks whichever Federal Department they may happen to be with. Real Estate sign issues are a City of Ottawa bylaw matter and so on and so on…
Why it is difficult to curb bad Realtor behaviour: We mentioned earlier that the core of the Realtor community is furious with the egregious behaviour attributed to some members and one must wonder: “so why isn’t something done about it…why don’t more people complain?
Though many are involved in managing and regulating the profession and many positive steps have been taken, there is still a long way to and any commission sales environment with relatively easy access, high commissions and large numbers of members, will have its share of those who deviate from the overall standards. The rewards are just too good and the enforcement is often deemed lacking, so some Realtors must say to themselves: why shouldn’t I do what gets me more business and commission?
Barriers to enforcement and complaint resolution:
Consumers most often do not want to get involved with a formal or legal complaint which can take a lot of time and energy and possibly money. Most consumers do not even know all the rules, either or more would complain.
There are so many bodies and legislation surrounding organized real estate that it is very difficult to identify which rule, regulation or law has been broken and whose jurisdiction a complaint must be filed with.
Processes for various organizations are long and involved and often stop complaints before they are even heard. RECO for example, takes consumer complaints very seriously but is not able to manage Realtor complaints on what are considered minor issues, so they defer these mostly back to the originating locale. For example, as a Broker of Record, I cannot refer a discipline matter to RECO unless I have already communicated and discussed the issue with the perpetrators Manager or Broker of Record.
There is a bit of a “live-and-let-live” approach to most common Realtor misbehaviour, on the grounds that we have to work with these people in the future, so why spoil the realtor-realtor synergy that may be needed to do a future deal. Also, as one must identify oneself to make a complaint, many can be concerned about potentially “putting a target on their own back” and are concerned with possible reprisals from the complaint target agent.
We will write about our many “Broker beefs” via broker rant reports, future posts. We also welcome any notes, questions or comments on things you have seen or wondered about concerning Realtor activity and behaviour.
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker Oasis
Realty Brokerage Ottawa, Canada
Do you ever wonder if it makes a difference which major party is in power or whether we have a majority or minority government?
When it comes to Ottawa real estate here are some recent average selling prices that might give you a hint:
Harper Majority: Trudeau Majority:
2012: +2.4% 2016: +1.2%
2013: +1.6% 2017: +5.5%
2014: +1.2% 2018: +3.8%
2015: +1.6% 2019: + 9.1% (through Sept)
So if you are voting based on your housing wallet, the choice is pretty clear…..though a minority government of any kind, pretty much ensures the cash will be flowing and all will be good in Ottawa real estate.
All in all, no party seems to have threatened (promised) to make any significant moves to balance the books, so while perhaps not good news overall, it certainly doesn’t seem to predict the tight budgets of the Harper majority or even the previous John Chretien majority, where budgets and headcount were threatened and Ottawa housing often paid the price.
The link between Federal headcount and program funding has a huge impact in the Ottawa economy and therefore housing. (and in Gatineau, “don’t’-call-me-Hull” too) For every Federal job in Ottawa there is probably another job in the private sector that is also largely tied to their employers business with the government. So if a Federal majority government decides to go strong on a “balance the books” principle, we are bound to see our economy suffer and our housing market flat line.
During the last Harper majority, we suffered through buyers’ market conditions for 3 or 4 years’, with average price increases barely beating inflation. New home construction (and all the jobs that go with it!) also suffered during this period. All this turned round with 2015 election and the Sunny spending ways of the Liberal majority and their “modest” deficits which helped prime the pump for a reboot in Ottawa real estate that continues to gather steam. New construction has been at unprecedented levels, sales increases and price increases have been double digit and we have a strong sellers’ market at the current time.
So please vote today, as it is unlikely our market will suffer from the most widely anticipated outcomes,
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage 613-435-4692 email@example.com
This is version 2.0 of our Oasis Realty Ottawa blog and we are keen to get it ramped up again. (we lost about 5 years worth of posts due to a misunderstanding between us and our website supplier…ugh! …not all their fault but it was surprising there was no way to go back and repatriate the content)
We think we can have a valuable role in creating a forum for consumers and Realtors to discuss real issues in today’s Ottawa real estate scene. Many professionals in the business don’t have time to blog or don’t have much latitude, due to employee contracts, corporate brokerage policies or management practices. Many others prefer to focus strictly on marketing and lead generation using their blog.
We hope to emulate in some small way, the super blog by a Realtor colleague in Toronto, David Fleming who has done a fantastic job in “telling it like it is” in Toronto real estate. He doesn’t pull any punches, either….something that is not possible for 95% of Realtors out there who are effectively muzzled or controlled, since everything they write or post, is subject to some management or corporate policy, scrutiny or legal potential. We encourage everyone to check out https://torontorealtyblog.com/ for an interesting perspective on the GTA market and real estate in general.
We think we have some real insight to offer, with over 15 years of industry experience and 12+ years running our own small brokerage. We have worked with 2 major corporate franchise brokerages prior to launching our own brokerage, so we feel we offer an interesting perspective.
We encourage you to submit questions and issues you would like to hear about it and we will address them, if we believe they are topical and of interest to other consumers. So what are your thoughts on the Ottawa real estate market? What have your experiences with Realtors been? What surprises, confuses, entertains or ticks you off about how real estate is done?
We look forward to hearing from you!
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage