OTTAWA -- “Scorching” is the word realtor Taylor Bennett of Bennett Property Shop Realty uses to describe the Ottawa real estate market.

For the past 14 months we have been a hot sellers’ market, with homes selling for tens of thousands over the asking price and bidding wars.

Bennett says this is due to low inventory, among other reasons.

“The Baby Boomers are becoming new, active, buyers, for the first time in decades as they are looking to downsize," he says. "Public and private sector are hiring, making Ottawa the second fastest growing city in Canada.

“Buyers out there have yet to adjust their approach and expectations in this new market.  This new market is like a battlefield, you have to be more prepared than ever to navigate this hectic market.”

But Bennett doesn’t want buyers to feel shut-out, or that’s it too late to get into the market. He instead offers this primer.

Ask yourself these questions:

How much can I afford?

What do I need?

When do I need it?

Bennett says this is particularly important for first time buyers: “It sounds obvious, but step one should be speaking to a mortgage specialist and get a locked-in mortgage rate while you shop.  Mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers can give you very different options depending on your current financial situation.

"In this fast-paced market, it can take much longer to find what you need/want, but you also have to be ready to move quickly when the opportunity arises.”

The stats show that almost 40% of the residential buyers are looking for a home for between $400,000 and $550,000, Bennett says.

”If you are one of those buyers, what are you and your agent doing differently to get the home you want? The same tactics from years past simply do not work in today's market, it takes a novel approach and well laid-out plan to beat out other buyers today.”

For the condo market, the most desirable price range is between $200,000 and $350,000.

"Fifty-four per cent of condo buyers are in this range. The condo market is even more competitive than the residential side of the market.  As more and more Baby Boomers start evaluating condos differently, and our population continues to grow, the demand will stay high until more product is introduced to the market.”

For those buyers worried they are priced out of this market, Bennett is reassuring.

"There are still some fantastic deals out there you just have to realign your expections and make adjustments when entering into this market.  The old tactics from yesterday do not work.”

Readjustment tips:

1. With inventory levels at a record low & sales happening fast and furiously, start your home search months earlier than normal.

2. Don't use the list price as a guide. Many homes are deliberately being underpriced. Sellers have no intentions of selling at that price, like the photos & description, it's another way of bringing in buyers.

3. Do your own research & stay within your means.

Bennett says: “When you do find that property that was the best suited for you, change your expectations, change your approach and you won’t be disappointed.” 

Depending on your budget, you will have different options.  Bennett has prepared these slides to give you a sense of what is available in various neighbourhoods.