Million-dollar threshold no barrier as high-end home sales surge, OREB says

Winter home sales

Million-dollar home transactions in Ottawa are surging amid an ongoing supply crunch that’s driven prices to record highs, the Ottawa Real Estate Board says.

Detached home sales topping the million-dollar mark accounted for 14 per cent of local transactions in January, OREB said Friday – up substantially from 2020, when they made up just three per cent of all deals.

“Average prices continue to rise steadily with the lack of inventory pushing prices to levels previously unseen,” new board president Penny Torontow said in a statement. “Bad weather, pandemic lockdowns, it doesn’t matter – Ottawa remains a fast-moving, active and robust market.”

OREB’s figures echo those from real estate firm Re/Max, which reported a total of 1,766 transactions valued at $1 million or more in Ottawa in 2021, more than double the previous year’s tally of 750 such “luxury” transactions.

The board’s realtors sold 936 homes last month – down from the 963 properties that changed hands in January 2021 but still well above the five-year average of 840. 

Residential prices up 14%

The average price of a residential property rose 14 per cent year-over-year to $771,739, while the average condo sold for $447,943, an 18 per cent increase.

Torontow said those figures indicate Ottawa’s red-hot housing market is showing no signs of cooling off as buyers bid up what limited stock of available properties remains.

“January’s sales, almost identical to 2021’s, were very strong for a traditionally slower month, especially given the frigid temperatures and increased government COVID-19 restrictions we experienced,” she said, adding the homebuying bonanza is “not solely a pandemic phenomenon.”

Torontow said that while the pandemic has triggered a flurry of sales, “pent-up buyer demand due to the housing supply shortage has been an ongoing fundamental issue for the Ottawa resale market for well over five years now – and the price increases will continue to reflect that until the housing stock grows.”

Recent data from Royal LePage showed the city’s aggregate home price jumped 17.2 per cent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2021 to $739,700. The company is forecasting the aggregate price of an Ottawa home will top $800,000 this year, bringing the cost of the average house ever closer to the million-dollar mark that once defined a “luxury” property.