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Ottawa real estate market: High prices, low inventory

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If you’re looking to buy a house right now, it’s slim pickings. The real estate market is seeing a record low for inventory in Ottawa, along with prices still out of reach for many.

Jacqui Delaney starting the search for a new condo in October, and she's still looking.

“Before Christmas, there was definitely more inventory on the market,” says Delaney. “At that time there wasn’t a great amount of inventory, and now after Christmas, there’s even less.”

The real estate market in Ottawa has little to offer right now for those looking to buy. December 2021 was slow with 14 per cent fewer homes sold than the previous year.

“As someone who’s been a lifelong renter, I could settle when it comes to an apartment that I’m about to rent,” says Delaney. “But when it comes to a property that I’m going to be putting a big chunk of money down on for a down payment, and then of course paying on it as an investment, I don’t want to settle.”

Ottawa’s market has been out of reach for many people over the past two years. The average residential sale price in Ottawa for 2021 was $719,000 a 24 per cent increase from 2020. Condominiums were up 16 per cent with an average price of $419,000.

Real estate agent Geoff Walker says it’s normal for things to slow down a bit over the winter, but more variables are adding to the decrease in sales.

“In many respects, we’re also going back to a more traditional market. We just came off the heels of two years of euphoria,” says Walker. “Everybody gets put on a different plan when all of a sudden the kids are above you going to school. Because you’re at home, your plans become delayed.”

Walker also says during the pandemic, the markets just outside of Ottawa outperformed sales in the city. Mainly due to lower prices, but also thanks to the elimination of the daily commute for remote workers.

“You’re now working from home, your employer is allowing you to work from home,” says Walker. “So the house not only meets your budget, it meets your criteria. You perhaps get a little bit of a better lifestyle with that home.”

For Delaney, she says she’s anxious to own her first condo, but not ready to rush into something she might regret.

“I’d really like to buy a property before interest rates go up while I’m locked into that good interest rate,” says Delaney. “But I don’t want to settle. So, it’s very frustrating right now because I’m just not seeing that property that I want.”

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