Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen “Condo Market Soaring” Front Page Ottawa Busines Section

I was quoted in an article in Tuesdays Ottawa Citizen, that managed to make front page of the business section. Talking about how condos are becoming uber hot in Ottawa. Now with 1 in every 4 homes sold being a condo, Isnt it about time to find someone who focuses on downtown condos to help you sell? 

Condo market soaring: report
Prices a hit with younger buyers

By Derek Abma, with files from Hugh Paterson, Citizen, Postmedia News November 2, 2010

Condominiums are a hot sector of the Canadian real estate market, particularly for first-time homebuyers spooked by high prices, says a report released Monday.

Re/Max says affordability, lifestyle, investment opportunities and urban renewal efforts are among the reasons condo sales have spiked over the last year in some Canadian markets.

“As one of few affordable housing options available to first-time buyers, the concept is poised for dramatic growth in years to come,” said Michael Polzler, executive vice-president for Re/Max’s Ontario-Atlantic Canada operations.

Re/Max said condo sales in Ottawa are up 11.9 per cent to 2,799 units year-to-date, as of September, and now represent one out of every four homes sold. The average price for Ottawa condos has risen 12.9 per cent to $252,641 in the last year, still more than $100,000 cheaper than the average price of $366,587 for a single-family home, which increased in value 8.2 per cent.

The greatest activity continues to be in condo sales in the $200,000 range in Ottawa, Barrie and London, but condo sales at prices in excess of $450,000 in Ottawa have jumped 72 per cent compared with last year. Condo sales in the greater Toronto area were up 10.4 per cent year to date, representing one of every three home purchases.

“The lifestyle has also gained a foothold with younger, hipper audiences as the definition of home ownership evolves with the changing demographic,” Polzler said. “Dreams of the small home with a white picket fence are being replaced by the funky loft apartment in proximity to shops, restaurants and entertainment.”

In Ottawa, “condo sales have come of age,” said Geoff McGowan, broker of record at Re/Max Affiliates Realty Ltd. in Ottawa.

“For the longest time we didn’t have the uptake on condos, unusual for a city this size. But things have changed now.

“Ottawa is the blue-chip stock of North American real estate. It’s the most affordable of any major city,” said McGowan.

He added that the stable employment of the public sector helps to guard against downturns.

He cautioned, however, not to expect condo price or sales increases forever.

“I see the market returning to sanity.”

While the Re/Max report focused specifically on Ontario and Eastern Canada, Gregory Klump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association, said condo sales are becoming a bigger share of more expensive housing markets across the country, such as Toronto and Vancouver.

“(Condos) have been accounting for a greater percentage over time of all sales activity,” Klump said. “Condo units are an affordable alternative to single-detached home ownership.”

The Re/Max report said other factors driving the surging condo market include urban redevelopment that favours intensification over urban sprawl, empty nesters seeking low-maintenance retirement properties and investors hoping to sell when prices appreciate, the report said.

Re/Max said the “vast majority” of newly built condominiums in Toronto are purchased by long-term investors from Asia and the Middle East, who will often rent them out until they find their desired sales price.

The same is happening in Ottawa, but from investors closer to home.

“We’re seeing a huge surge in condos being bought for investment purposes,” said Matt Richling, of Re/Max Metro City in Ottawa.

“A lot of the investors are from Toronto.”
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