How COVID-19 changed the face of Real Estate in Ottawa
Real Estate in Ottawa has been a hot topic for some time now. Despite the industry’s sudden shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic, home sales picked up as soon as it was announced that the Real Estate industry was deemed an essential service. Since then, Ottawa residents have been fascinated as they watch homes sell within days of going live on MLS®, often with prices considerably above their asking price. It was humbling to see how the market transformed during the early stages of the pandemic. Like most Canadian industries, Real Estate had to quickly alter business practices to protect the health and safety of our agents, clients, and the general public.
Ottawa is the hottest market in Canada. Until 2017, Ottawa had maintained a slow and steady growth of the average home price. 2018 and 2019 proved much more active, and then, despite the pandemic, 2020 a year-over-year increase of 19.5%. This is the most significant increase in over 30 years and surpasses the number of residences and condominium properties sold in 2019.
There is talk about the risk of Ottawa having a bubble, where prices rose too quickly. However, we have actually been in a reverse bubble, with prices on the lower end of where they should have been. Big Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton saw sky-high prices, but these increases were unsustainable, which ultimately caused their bubble to break. While our current year-over-year price increases are not sustainable, we firmly believe the current home prices are reflective of the stature of Ottawa and the strength of our market. Ottawa house prices still remain well below the average of other major cities in Canada. We are just catching up to those other major markets.
Our battle now is getting inventory to sustain the current need. Many properties are going into multiple offers, causing high levels of frustration among buyers. Builders are starting back up again, which is excellent, but we need more listings from those holding off. The hesitation around big moves in the current climate is understandable, but numbers prove that now is a great time to be out on the market.
COVID-19 slowed us down in Ottawa through March and April 2020, but we were the last to shut down and the first to start back up. This did not mean business as usual. Our industry had to quickly find ways to keep our agents, clients, and the public safe while helping those who needed to buy and sell Real Estate.
Our Royal LePage Team REALTORS ® were trained and equipped with access to programs that made transactions more convenient, but COVID-19 required a broader range of online tools to be accessible for Real Estate services. Being essential meant that we were tasked with changing the face of Real Estate in Ottawa appropriately to meet our growing community’s demand.
We found ways to limit physical interactions, set out new guidelines, and entered the virtual world. With the vast amount of information now available online, buyers and sellers can complete the entire process without ever leaving their homes. Anyone with an email address can access a database to check listing prices, sold prices, and other information on properties sold in Ottawa. We also introduced Virtual Open Houses and expanded virtual tours, 3D images, and self-guided virtual tours.
Buying a home in 2021 certainly looks different. We had to adapt while coping with a challenging covid situation that made our person-to-person business very difficult to manage. Our team’s resiliency, and this fantastic city, are why we have been able to keep our doors open. Despite how navigating the market has changed, our values remain the same, and business is done the old-fashioned way. People helping people!! However, we are now more inclined to offer a virtual fist bump instead of a handshake. We are thankful to have been able to remain open and proud of how our industry reacted to the changes that COVID-19 brought. We are fortunate that we live in a market that has been Canada’s most stable for the last 25 years. We are proud of our industry, our sales representatives, and our entire Royal LePage TEAM!
Lisa Fitzpatrick ABR, SRS
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