CARLETON PLACE -- As if the Canadian real estate market wasn’t hot enough already, the COVID-19 pandemic is driving prices even higher in the Ottawa Valley.

“We are up 20 per cent in the Ottawa Valley when it comes to home sales, as well as 20 per cent up when it comes to sales prices,” says Century 21 sales representative Stephanie Mols. “If we list a home in the range of $400,000 for example, often enough we are receiving offers at $440,000.”

The average home price in places like Carleton Place, where Mols works, and Perth are hovering around the $540,000 range. Compare that mark to 2019, where Mols says the average price was $40,000 cheaper.

It begs the question, why the Ottawa Valley?

"Due to COVID, it’s a real demand right now for people coming out of the city," says Mols. "They want to have the extra room in the smaller cities around the city and this is what, for example, Carleton Place and Perth is providing."

Many of those buyers coming from larger cities, but not the one the valley surrounds, "like 70 per cent of those enquires are coming out of the (Greater Toronto Area)," says Mols. "Which is in my expression, they are fleeing out of the city."

Those high sales prices are not only costing buyers more money, but also testing their patience. Mols recounts the struggles of one of her current clients looking for a new home. "(They) actually went through eight different offers on eight different properties and still didn’t get it."

The market is testing buyers’ patience, but also their ability to react fast. "I just listed a home yesterday afternoon and within hours we had 20 showings at already received two offers on it with a further offer coming."