OTTAWA -- Potential homebuyers in Ottawa are dealing with frustration and fatigue as they try to buy the perfect house.

Fewer homes are for sale and more people are wanting to buy, which has sale prices surging and buyers willing to bid six-figures over asking.

It was another day of defeat for Patricia-Abena Lawuyi, who was once again outbid on a home she and her husband wanted to buy.

"This was probably one of our dream homes on our list. We’ve been looking and looking for over a year and we bid over $400,000 over asking price," says Lawuyi.

The single-family home in the Ottawa community of Riverside South sold for $1.25 million.

"It has been actually really disappointing and really deflating in that you kind of take breaks but in taking breaks the market keeps skyrocketing," said Lawuyi.

The Ottawa Real Estate Board recorded 1,390 sales of residential properties in February through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service, compared with 1,134 in February 2020, a 23 per cent increase. 

The average sale price for a condominium increased by 17 per cent to $407,671, over last year at that time, while the average sale price of a house property was $717,914, a 27 per cent spike.

"Resale properties are virtually flying off the shelves," says Ottawa Real Estate Board President Debra Wright.

"Even though our inventory is significantly lower than 2020 – a combined 46 per cent decrease in housing stock for residential and condos, we witnessed a record number of sales in February 2021. How is that possible? Simply put, properties that come onto the market are selling very quickly."

Buying in this booming market, you get what you get. Conditions like a home inspection or time to sell another property in order to have the down payment, or simply the security, have evaporated.

Instead of a six-figure bidding war, why not just price the house higher?

Real estate agent Victoria Brunetta of Brunetta Real Estate Group, RE/MAX Hallmark says it’s simply unpredictable.

"We’re always seeing the next home on the street break a record," she says. "We assess the market data within 24-48 hours of when we get the home on the market to see the last sales and we have to use market data that we would traditionally use to set a range. That being said, we also have strategies depending on the segment we’re listing in that we need to use in order to get the market value of the home."

Brunetta also says there are great opportunities to stay within budget by adjusting your search criteria; looking in different neighbourhoods and a variety of other styles of houses can yield more results.

Brunetta recently listed a home in the Alta Vista community at $988,000, which offers a large backyard, five bedrooms and five baths, two ensuites, a wine cellar, mud room and designer kitchen.

"But it is a semi-detached and most buyers are looking for a single detached home, but it has a lot of great features that a lot of the homes in the neighbourhood don’t have."

Spring would typically see more homes pop-up for sale, but whether-or-not that will happen this year, is unknown.

Losing nine bids on houses has not been easy for Lawuyi, but she is set on finding her dream home.

"It’s been a lot of tears," says Lawuyi. "It’s no longer how much you can afford it’s emotionally how much do you want that house."