Over my more than 30 years as a realtor in the Ottawa area, I’ve helped many clients through the process of buying their first home or condo, and I’ve always found it particularly rewarding to see the excitement they feel at having a place they can call their own after years of renting.
Partly this is because of my expertise and longtime experience helping clients buy and sell condominium units. I’ve been assisting buyers and sellers with condo sales going back to long before the big boom in condo construction in Ottawa.
For many young singles or couples who might not have a downpayment for a traditional detached residential home or who simply prefer the convenience of condo living, a modestly priced starter condo has long been an attractive option for first-time buyers.
For those who are thinking of entering the real estate market, the great news is that if you are lucky enough to be living and working in the Ottawa area, buying your first residential home or condo remains a much more easily achievable goal than it is for residents of Toronto or Vancouver.
If you’ve perhaps been saving for a downpayment and have been following the Ottawa market over the past few years to get an idea of price ranges, you’re probably aware that our region has not seen the kind of mind-boggling increases in prices that residents in Vancouver and Toronto have seen.
By comparison with those cities, the Ottawa market has been very stable, with relatively modest increases in sale prices each year, apart from certain hot neighbourhoods like Westboro, where prices have increased at a faster rate than other areas.
While this means that some who have purchased properties in our region in the last few years have not seen the big increases in sale prices that we’ve seen in Vancouver or Toronto, the bright side of that stability means that our market is still very much within reach for those who want to enter the market.
Here are some numbers to illustrate:
If you were living in Toronto in January of 2017, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported that the average selling price for a residential (non-condo) property that month in the GTA was $770,745.
The average sale price of even a condo apartment that month in the GTA was $442,598.
If you were living in Vancouver, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported that the benchmark price (the price of a typical property in that city) for all residential properties in January was $896,000. The benchmark price for a detached property was $1,474,800, and the benchmark price for a condo apartment unit was $512,300.
By contrast, the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported these numbers for January of 2017:
The average sale price of a residential-class (non-condo) property sold in our area that month was $394,001.
The average sale price of a condominium-class property in Ottawa in January of 2017, meanwhile, was $288,655. That average was affected somewhat by the fact that more than three condo units sold in our region that month with prices in excess of $1 million.
The average sale price of a condominium unit in December of 2016 was $262,698, closer to the average for the year of 2016, which was $260,982 for a condominium property.
In the Ottawa market in January of 2017, the most active price point of residential properties sold that month was in the $300,000 to $399,999 range, accounting for 35.2 per cent of the sales that month.
The most active price range in the condo market that month, meanwhile, was the $150,000 to $249,999 range, which accounted for 58.7 per cent of the condo sales that month.
As a realtor, it’s gratifying to be able to show first-time buyers attractive properties that are within their reach in our market, even if they have a modest budget to work with.
As Ottawa Citizen Writer James Bagnall wrote in the Citizen at the end of January in an article on the local market, the stability that the Ottawa market has shown has been “great news for first-time buyers.”
In Ottawa, he wrote, “younger residents _ part of the millennial generation born after the mid-1980s _ can still aspire to home ownership in districts reasonably close to the downtown core. Single-family homes in Bells Corners (west) and Vanier (east) could be had last month for less than $320,000. Benchmark prices for condominium units across the city were $219,000 _ lowest within the country’s five largest urban areas.”
Anyone moving to Ottawa from Toronto or Vancouver, he wrote, “will be pleasantly surprised at what it costs to live here.”
So if you’ve thinking of buying your first property, consider yourself fortunate if you live in Ottawa.
If you’re ready to start on the search process, I’d love to chat with you and show you what you can find in your price range, whether you’re looking for a traditional detached residence or a condo unit.
If condo living appeals to you, you might be surprised at what you can buy in Ottawa in the $200,000 range or even lower. You can reach me through my website, at www.nancybenson.com, where you can also view my listings and read about the services we offer to clients of Nancy Benson and Associates.
You can call me directly at 613-747-4747. I’d love to hear from you.