March was a turbulent month in Ottawa real estate, as we tried (and mostly failed!) to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. Listing scarcity and strong demand continue to drive the market to higher unit sales and average prices while the number of listings continued to decline in this sellers’ market.
Unit sales growth:
March residential unit sales were up 12.3% for the month over last year and 6.5% higher for the quarter, compared to 2017. These numbers would likely have been even stronger but for the limited listing inventory.
Average prices up:
The average residential selling price was up to $447,561 for the month, an increase of 8% and for year-to-date $438,169 for a 6.6% increase.
Condos have had strong unit sales growth but the overall average selling price is up only slightly. The average selling price for March was $275,592 which is up only .7% from last year.
New listings continue to dwindle:
We saw the usual seasonal surge in listing activity (compared to February) in March as Realtors and their sellers list for peak season and to take advantage of market conditions but the number of new listings was still down 8.7% for residential properties and 5.4% for condos compared to March last year.
End of month listing inventory:
Residential listing inventory level down 22.6% from last year and 37.4% compared to 2016. The number of condos available for sale was also down, 18.4% compared to last year and 37% lower than 2 years ago.
With these very low inventory levels at the very beginning our peak selling season, we can expect to see a very challenging market for buyers and increasing price pressure on properties available for sale.
Don’t wait for the open house:
New listings are scarce, so don’t wait for the open house to try and see them and if you see any new signs installed in your neighbourhood of interest, research them immediately.
Buyers are especially well advised to have a knowledgeable Realtor engaged to navigate the tricky purchasing environment this year, this ultra-competitive sellers’ market is not a good place for the amateur or inexperienced. Offer dates, multiple offers, bully offers, creative offer tactics and management are all required. Have a strategic and tactical buying plan and also agree a sound selling plan with your Realtor agent.
Government relocation season in high gear:
With the new government fiscal year starting April 1st, our market sees a jump in government relocation listings, as employees list their homes to move to another geographic location. Many of these are military or RCMP who are moving on the government’s Integrated Relocation Program (IRP). Many out of town buyers also start to flood Ottawa in to Ottawa during April and May, resulting in May typically being our #1 sales month. (June is #2 and April #3)