Are we seeing a market shift in Ottawa?

Are these key indicators suggesting a market shift in Ottawa real estate?

Will we look back at the fall of 2020 and say:  “yes, we can see the beginning of the market change in the results posted in September and October?

New listings surge in October:
For the 3rd straight month, new listings continue to increase significantly, compared to a year ago.  Fortunately, unit sales increases have mostly absorbed these new listings and our sellers’ market continues, as does historically strong price increases.

New listings for residential properties were up 47.9% vs last year in the month of October, though were slightly less than the number of new listings recorded in September, so the typical seasonal easing pattern seems to be taking place.  New listings were up 18.4% in August and 31.8% in September.

Condos on the other hand, registered an increase of 69.8% in new listings in October after posting 45.3% and 41.4% gains in the previous two months.

Listing inventory at month end:
The total of residential listings available for sale is 45.7% lower than a year ago and represents approximately only one month of expected sales, which is still very low.  A more typical balanced market would have us with something like 2.5 to 3.5 months of expected sales on hand.

The number of condo units available to start November are 15.4% higher than a year ago, and equate to approximately 1.5 to 2 months of expected sales.

The most surprising stat of all:
With all the recent history of bidding wars and rapidly escalating prices, one would expect that we have had a runway year in total sales…. but guess what?  Though we have registered some strong unit sales increases in the last couple of months, the year to date numbers may surprise many.  The total number of residential sales sold* via MLS® shows that we are dead even with the same point in 2019.  The number of condos sold year-to-date through October is 5% lower than last year.

Why is this?

We had a major sales drop in two of our 3 biggest sales months in April (down 55%) and May (down 44%) at the start of the pandemic and have gradually made up that shortfall.

Also, we believe that a slightly larger number of properties are being sold “off market” by exclusive listings and other private or FSBO, sales that do not get captured in MLS™® stats published by the Ottawa Real Estate Board. (OREB)  While these types of transactions have always occurred, we believe the % may have ticked up, due to the scarcity of listings and the desire for some sellers to avoid the volume of visitors generated by an MLS® listing, during the pandemic.

Sales to new listing ratio still indicate sellers’ market:
This ratio is used to roughly approximate the overall market, as being either a “sellers’, “buyers’ or “balanced” market.

A sellers’ market is said to be occurring when the ratio exceeds 60%.

If the ratio is between 40% and 60%, we are experiencing a “balanced” market with a roughly equal number of buyers and sellers.

If the ratio is below 40%, then we are in a buyers’ market, with more sellers than buyers.

Our current ratio based on October 2020 sales in Ottawa shows the following:

Residential sales: 85.9% sales to new listings

Condos: 67.9%

So both are still showing sellers’ market conditions, though condos are slipping closer to a more balanced market, which favours neither buyers nor sellers.

What’s ahead?
Sales typically start to ease in mid-November, as our seasonal pattern shows that December and January are the two slowest sales months of the year…but it’s 2020…so who knows?  We still have a strong sellers’ market for residential properties, while condo sales seem to be trending towards a more balanced market.  Both buyers and sellers will want to keep a close on market trends and new construction buyers, especially will want to assess their risk tolerance for purchases that will not conclude until late 2021 or even in to 2022.

Are prices going to drop?

The economic fallout from the pandemic, has yet to drastically intervene in the real estate market (though there are signs in the condo market, especially in Toronto) , other than to drive mortgage rates down, which has only further fuelled demand.  One has to believe our significant price increase percentages will have to slow eventually, as we are on a pace of home price inflation not seen since 1983.  Year to date average prices are up 19.4% for both residential properties and condos this year.

Keeping a close eye on the supply and demand factors (sales, new listings, overall listing inventory) will help gauge whether we are seeing a distinct market trend which may balance supply and moderate price increases or in the extreme case, where supply grows significantly and outstrips demand which then results in downward or at least flattening of prices.

Our market tends to be buffered from the larger ups and downs in prices, experienced by some other cities and if fact, we have only seen an annual price decrease 5 times since 1956 and the largest of those was only 4.3%, way back in 1961 and the other years were in the 1-2% range.

Make sure to check all your assumptions with up to date market data, before completing  a buying or selling plan and your Realtor is your best source for both data and front line day to day experience in the market.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 or mobile 613-371-9691
oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com
https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa
@OasisrealtyOTT

http://blog.oasisrealtyottawacom/

Ottawa average residential selling price approaches $600,000 during August

residential average sale price jumps 22%…how long can this continue?

Ottawa’s market continued red hot through August with the average selling price of residential properties during the month rising 22% from a year ago to $592,548.  Residential sales recorded a 21.8% increase in transactions, while condo sales grew at just over 2% but recorded at 24% increase in average selling price to $383,640.

Some good news on new listings….but…
We had our strongest month of the year for new residential listings which grew 18.6% vs 2019 but alas, residential sales growth pretty well absorbed all those new listings.
New condo listings for the month were also up 41.4% for the month.

Month end inventory still scarce for buyers:
At month end, we still have a huge deficit with residential properties down 49.8% vs August 2019 and the number of condos available for sale down 17.6%.  Though each grew slightly from the figures posted at the end of July this year.
The only significantly growing month end inventory area is rentals which were up 31.6% vs a year ago.

Key performance indicator:  sales to new listings ratio
This metric compares the number of new listings during the month to sales.  In August 2020 this ratio came in at a super high 83.2% for residential properties and 72.5% for condos.  A balanced market would see this ratio in the 40-60% range.  By comparison, the Toronto Real Estate Board, reported a sales to new listings ratio of 58% and with a surge of new listings of 56.8%.

Do I buy? Do I sell?  Do I wait?
Tough conundrum on many levels for those considering a move in real estate.  Will the economy worsen?  What factors am I risking by buying or not?  Will prices ease, if the economy softens or will government spending and support programs keep the economy rolling and with cheap mortgage money and scarce inventory of housing, the average house has been going up some $20,000 per quarter in 2020.  Am I a fool to miss out on this market?

Aug 2017 vs Aug 2020 pricing snapshot:
Can you believe that the average residential selling price in Ottawa only 3 years ago during August was $420,337.  This means average selling prices have grown 40.9% over just 3 years when comparing this August 2017 figure to our current month which saw an average residential selling price of $592,548.

Still room to grow?
This seems super high by Ottawa standards but when one compares it to Toronto at $951,404 and Vancouver at $1,038,700, our prices still seem to offer pretty good value.  Our blended average price, once condos are added is $542,872 during August

 

No one has a crystal ball?
We all wish we could accurately predict where this market is headed and it could certainly take some widely divergent directions.  While one intuitively, cannot see these kind of price increases continuing, our market is still growing and our price levels are still significantly lower than major centres.

Taxes:

We do not yet have the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) or the Foreign Buyer Tax or vacant property tax, so that makes our market attractive for foreign investors.  There is some concern that immigration may stall with COVID and limited housing requirements for new Canadians or those with visas coming to study or work here.
Will the Federal Government follow through with the rumoured capital gains tax on (some?) residential home sales?

New government in town?
Government action (or lack thereof) can have a profound effect on housing and our Ottawa market is even more reliant on government activity than other markets.  If the current Federal government minority continues with its social aggressive benefit plans and other spending, our market should continue to rock and roll.  We believe that for every government headcount added, at least one more job or full time equivalent is added in the private sector.  Should a sea change on spending occur at the Federal level due to political pressure or a change in government, then one might expect some kind of budget tightening exercise which could impact Federal headcount and program funds.  Every headcount lost also has a ripple effect in the Ottawa economy, too and further dampen market outlook.

On the surface, the current Liberal-NDP coalition seems likely to likely to continue which probably means good news for Ottawa real estate.  But as the 1990’s demonstrated in spades, even Liberal governments have to wield a budget axe, if sufficient political and market pressure is applied and that is another scenario we would prefer not to encounter again.

Even if our market plateaus or flattens, Ottawa is still a very safe and reliable real estate market.  Prices tend to be “sticky” (i.e they don’t drop that much, regardless of market conditions)  What tends to happen is that the whole market simply stagnates, demand dries up and the number of sales transactions drop, should economic or job uncertainties appear to be greater or banks or governments tighten lending practices.

Buyers and sellers will have to assess a lot of factors in making their decisions and Realtors are here to help with the most up to date statistics that can help make better long term decisions.  The key stats to follow are the sales to new listings ratio and the overall listing inventory, as these will often signal a swing in market supply and demand factors.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage 
613-435-4692 or 613-371-9691
 oasisrealty@rogers.com

Pandemic chills Ottawa real estate sales again in May but prices surge

low inventory boosts prices in May

Ottawa real estate continues to baffle just about everyone.  While sales plunged again in April, (transactions were down 44% vs May 2019) average selling prices surged 11.2% for residential properties and 15.5% for condos.  So what gives?

Listing inventory down by 50.4%
The number of listings available dropped an incredible 50.4% from the same time a year ago.  Compared to May 2015 (much slower market then) available listings are 81.4% lower…that represents over 8,000 fewer listings!  No wonder buyers and their representatives are pulling their hair out and we are still seeing fairly significant multiple offer activity.

New listings also down significantly:
New listings during the month were also down almost 50% vs last year, with 49.2% fewer residential properties being listed and 47.2% fewer condos, so there is no let-up in sight and no sign that listing activity is strengthening. Anecdotally, some realtors report having lots of listings ready to go but these sellers cannot find anything to buy.

Average prices up strongly for the month and year to date:
The average residential property sold for $548,140 in May, an increase of 11.2% over last year.  The average condo sold for $343,589 a 15.5% increase.  On a year to date basis, the average residential selling price is up 13.8% and the average condo is up 17.8%.

Dark Forecast from CMHC and toughening of mortgage qualifying July 1.
Contrast these statistics with the gloomy forecast by CMHC (the federal housing experts) who have predicted a 9-18% price drop (over the next 12-18 months) and you can see why many buyers must be confused that instead of a COVID-19 “discount”, prices continue to escalate on the back of dwindling supply.

CMHC warning:
On top of their prediction of a 9-18% national price drop over the next 18 months, CMHC also  announced several new measures restricting qualification for insured mortgages. (those with less than 20% down)  These changes are fairly significant and one mortgage industry source has suggested that this will curtail buying power by between 9 and 13% for this category of homebuyer.  This will likely seriously impact the first time home buyer market and as they account for something like 30 or 35% of sales, this could really hurt the market.  If the supply of new first time buyers dried up, how can those who wish to move up to a larger home to so, if there are fewer buyers for their existing home.  This bears close scrutiny in the months to come.

Expect a wild June:
With the tightening of the CMHC qualifying rules, low cost of mortgages and low listing inventory levels, we can expect to see a wild month of June with lots of bidding wars and frantic activity, as many buyers seek to get a deal done prior to the July 1st cut-off date for the new CMHC rules. (Happy Canada Day, eh?)

Golf Analogy:  “hit the ball where it lies”
The best way to tackle this market is not to have too many pre-conceived notions about how the market should be functioning but rather playing to the market conditions.  Just because some headlines are blurting doom and gloom, doesn’t mean those are correct, so play your shot according to the conditions you see at the time of sale or purchase and your Realtor is your best caddy for helping you make a good score!  If market indicators shift then one can adapt to the changing conditions.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com

 

 

 

 

Bidding wars fuel large price increases in February

agent and seller “FOMO” a factor in bidding wars

Just released February results show a continuing and worsening trend in listing inventory shortages in Ottawa real estate.  A relatively strong unit sales increase of 13.9% was recorded during February and average selling prices shot up over 20%, as a result of strong demand and bidding wars on properties.

Prices:
Average prices for properties sold in February soared 21.1% for the average residential property to $563,694 and the average condo sale recorded was up 21.3% to $349,813.

“FOMO” creates Bidding Wars:
Once a bit of a rarity, this is pretty much the standard in the current limited inventory market. The Board press release quotes that 58% of properties sold in February were as a result of multiple offer/bidding war situations up from 32% a year ago.

While many do not like aspects of the “holding offers” bidding war process, it is really somewhat unavoidable, as one cannot really know what market value is going to be, unless all buyers have a chance to consider a new listing.  This can only happen if at least a few days are set aside and provide for reasonable opportunity for buyers to visit the property, while accepting offers at a pre-specified day and time.

There is also the natural inclination for a seller to experience FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) if they do not wait for a reasonable number of buyers to tour the property and accept the first interested buyer offer.  The only way to mitigate the potential of “maybe-I-listed-too-low” thinking, is to establish an offer date and hope to hear from a reasonable cross section of potential buyers.

Less than 1 month of expected sales in inventory:
Our current listing inventory levels are pretty anemic, with residential properties available for sale down 36.7% vs 2019.  Condos are even worse, at 60.7% lower than last year.

This means we have less than one months’ anticipating sales on hand, so March would be a great time for someone to get their property listed. In a typical balanced market, we have something in the neighbourhood of two months anticipated sales on hand to start a month.

New listings levels:
no sign of help on the horizon. No sign of any significant bump in new listings coming on the market, either, as new listings for residential properties in February were down 9.9% compared to the previous year.  Condo new listings were up slightly by 2.5% vs 2019 but given how few condos are available (60.7% below a year ago) this is not enough to help balance supply and demand.

Rentals an interesting part of the market:
The only listing inventory category where we see any growth is in the rental property category where listing inventory is up 31.3% vs last year and new listings during the month were also up 38.3%.  This is an appropriate inventory level however, as Board members have assisted in almost 500 rentals in the first two months of the year an increase of approximately 40% from a year ago.

Whether this large increase is a result of Airbnb owners moving properties in to the long term rental market due to the pending new City rules, remains to be seen but is probably somewhat a factor.

Spring outlook:
Unless there is an unusual economic event or a seismic shift in Federal Government policy or makeup, it looks like we can expect more of the same from the Ottawa market this spring.  In fact, we are right at the start of the peak spring market which gets revved up in March but really kicks off in April with the start of government and military moving season.  While this creates a bump in new listings, sales also surge upwards by 50% from February to March and another 50% March to April.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Principal Broker, Ottawa Real Estate Board
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage 613-435-4692
oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com 

Average home prices up $25,000-$40,000 through November 2019

a wintry November did not slow sales

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) results for November show another strong sales month, despite the early onset of wintry conditions. Unit sales and average home prices both approached double digit gains, compared to November 2018.  The market shows no trends of flattening out, except for the usual seasonal fluctuations.

Key average price milestones reached this year:
The average detached home price has sold this year for $510,975, an increase of 8.4% or $39,693, breaching the $500K mark for the first time.
The average residential row townhome has sold for $408,905, an increase of 9.8% or $36,620, topping $400K.
The average residential semi-detached home has sold for $489,656 an increase of 9.5%. or $42,447
The average condo sold this year has topped $300,000, coming in with a 9.1% price increase to 303,817 which is up $25,459 from a year ago.  Apartment condos lead the way with an average price of $324,459 up 5.7% while row units and stacked condos also showing similar $ price gains at $268,613 and $274,860 respectively.

Listing inventory continues to languish:
The number of new listings in November are pretty flat with a year ago, so while they are not getting any worse, they are not improving, either.  This means our supply/demand imbalance should continue for the short term, at least-given the strong sales demand.

At the end of November, our residential listing inventory was 22.6% lower than last year at the same time and condo listing inventory was 43.9% lower.

About the only listing category that was higher was the number of rentals that are MLS® listed, which are up 53.9% vs 2018.  Year to date rentals done via MLS® are basically flat vs last year, so that category is not seeing the same growth as the resale market.

City policy on short term rentals may put more inventory in the market:
Though there will no doubt be ongoing appeal action via OMB or other legal avenues, there could be a slight bump in available listing inventory and long term rental properties, from investors losing their ability to rent their (non resident occupied) properties via Airbnb or VRBO.  Numbers are not readily available of how many housing units fall in this category but this could have help the condo and urban market inventory where most of the short term rental properties are located.  Airbnb totalled some 4,600 listings in Ottawa over the last 12 months, so the number of investors involved might easily be 500-1,000 (or more) which would be welcome in the long term rental or resale markets.  Stay tuned!

New home construction:
New home sales continue to flourish and with the upward trajectory in the market, many new home buyers feel they are kind of “doubling down”, in that both their current home and the one “on order” or “to be built” are appreciating in price, while they wait for the new home possession which typically is 8-12 months or more, down the road.

Cost of waiting makes buying even more expensive:
Strong markets like this make it tough on all buyers, particularly first time buyers and those that are “fence sitters”, who are considering a move but don’t really have a compelling reason to do so, until they find the “right” property.  The upward price trajectory, however, makes the cost of waiting potentially significant.  For example, even if current prices only increase by 6% over the next months (a Re/Max projection for Ottawa), the average prices overall could look something like this:
The average detached single home will jump to $541,633 and a further hike of $30,000+ over current prices.

The average two storey single detached home could top $600,000 next year, with a 6% hike from this years’ average price of $567,456.

The average townhome would jump to $433,439 up $25,534

The average condo would increase to $322,026 overall and the average apartment condo to $343,926, each up almost $20K.

This means more down payment needed to qualify for appropriate financing, more to generate 20%+ down payment for investment properties, higher land transfer and mortgage insurance costs and a longer period to pay off mortgages taken out against these purchases.

These also represent only “average” price increases and higher priced properties could easily be going for $50-$100K more in the immediately foreseeable future, especially, if the current inventory shortage continues and the market generates another 8-10% price rise.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Principal Broker, Ottawa Real Estate Board
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com