OTTAWA -- Only a month into the new year, real estate stats in the capital are already staggering.

The average price of a home in the Ottawa region is a whopping $677,197, a more than 30 per cent increase since last January.

“It's important to keep in mind that a lot has changed since January 2020. Inventory levels hit historical lows, interest rates dropped as well, and the lockdowns have made us all reassess our living situations,” says Taylor Bennett of Bennett Property Shop Realty.

Bennett says the Ottawa real estate market is incredibly large, and the areas seeing ‘out of this world growth’, are outside of the city limits.

“For one of the first times ever, we saw more sales in the outer parts than the inner part of Ottawa's real estate district. Normally the inner part of Ottawa sees 65 to 75 per cent of the total monthly sales, but thanks to bungalows in the outer area representing 22 per cent of all the sales in January 2021, we saw the demand in the outer area outpace its inner counterpart.”

Homes outside of the city are, on average, $250,000 less expensive.

Bennett says many styles of properties are selling for under $500,000, attracting retirees or young people who feel they have been priced out of the city’s core.

Within the last two weeks one of his colleagues experienced a surprising ‘real estate first’ in the town of Carleton Place.

“The asking price for a townhome in Carleton Place was $579,000. It sold for $625,000 within four days. To give perspective, a townhouse next to the General Hospital in Ottawa sold in early 2020 for $610,000, and that was a record-setting price for there at that time.”

He says if you are thinking of retiring to a small town, start shopping now.

“As we enter 2021, many homebuyers and sellers wondered if the market would continue along with this trend or would we see a slowdown,” he said. “While one month certainly doesn't make a trend, the market numbers showed no signs of slowing down.”

When the whole world seemingly came to a halt back in March 2020, Bennett says the real estate market was no exception - both sales and new listings stopped overnight. But prices and values were unaffected.

“After a few weeks, as people adjusted to the ‘new normal’, we saw the sales activity and listing levels in June increase to levels we normally experience in March - essentially would-be buyers in the spring were forced to buy in the summer.”

And due to the low inventory, many of those buyers were pushed into the fall. 

In short, Bennett says, the lockdowns created a log-jam of buyers.

“When the lockdowns were first implemented many people predicted the Ottawa real estate market would crash and prices would drop - back in March 2020, it was anyone's guess what would happen,” he said. “But Ottawa's market is showing no signs of slowing down.”