A recent chat with Paul Rushforth (virtual and no-contact, of course) revealed his expert forecast for the 2021 Ottawa real estate market.
In the coming year, according to Paul, we’ll continue to see the effects of COVID-19, which had such a dramatic impact on Ottawa’s home buying and selling in 2020. So hold onto your hats!
1. What big surprises were you shocked to see in 2020 regarding real estate?
Frankly, if you had told me that the average Ottawa home sale price was going to increase 19.9%, I would have said that you’re out to lunch. But it happened!
Another surprise was that buyers started to look for different types of product. Small single-family homes and townhomes have always been super hot. While that didn’t change, larger homes and homes on the outskirts became unexpectedly popular in 2020 because so many people started working from home.
2. Will 2021 continue to be a strong seller’s market?
Yes, the strong seller’s market will continue, due partly to a lack of inventory. Just recently, we sold the highest priced townhome in Orleans — $700,000 for a townhome!
Another huge factor driving up prices is the large influx of Toronto money. We’re seeing Toronto residents (and even Toronto realtors) grabbing up properties here, some of them sight unseen. For Torontonians, Ottawa is very affordable. So if you’re in a bidding war, say for a $550,000 townhome, Ottawa buyers won’t go much higher than six to six and a quarter. Toronto people, on the other hand, say, “Wow, this is cheap. I’m going to bid $650k.”
Again, this is an amazing, amazing, amazing market for sellers. And the most frustrating market I’ve ever experienced for buyers.
3. How will the 2021 real estate market compare to 2020?
I’m very cautious about that. I don’t want to see another 20% increase. If you’re a home seller, it sounds incredible, but the problem is, if you’re a home seller, you are most likely a home buyer as well.
As for the Ottawa rental market, it is definitely changing. We went from a very scarce rental market (where the prices increased because there was nothing on the market) to today’s situation, with almost as many rentals available as homes for sale.
4. Which type of property do you think will make the biggest impact in 2021?
It’s funny to say this, but all of them will. Obviously, the small singles, townhomes, and condos are super popular, mainly because they’re still somewhat affordable. But we’re going to see a lot of push to the outskirts and to bigger properties also.
5. How did COVID-19 affect the real estate market in 2020?
COVID-19 encouraged agents to change and adapt — by getting smarter with technology, for example. Although we can’t hold open houses at the moment, we’re still selling lots of homes virtually.
Recently we represented a seller who had been on the market for quite a while with us in 2019. Their home had some cosmetic downfalls, and it just didn’t sell. Now we put it back on the market without even allowing showings, and it sold the first day.
6. Do you foresee COVID-19 having any positive or negative real estate effects in 2021?
I would hate to call COVID a “positive,” but realistically, our market will not change from 2020. Even if the pandemic continues for another two years, the real estate market will not be affected because we already know what we need to do.
Back in March 2020, it was kind of like a slap in the face and everyone panicked. We didn’t really know how to do business in a COVID environment until probably May or June. Then, we started to adapt. Now, in 2021, we already have all the measures in place to succeed in a COVID world.
7. How could changes in interest rates affect the Ottawa market in 2021?
The good news is that we are at historic lows — you can get a mortgage in the 1.5-1.6% range. In 2021, I don’t foresee much of an increase, if at all. If interest rates do go up, they’ll still be well under 2% … which is unheard of.
8. What areas in Ottawa should investors look at in 2021?
Investors should consider Ottawa’s outskirts, for example, Arnprior in the west and Rockland in the east. Those areas are still a lot more affordable than closer to the core. Even though the valley towns have gone up quicker than top neighbourhoods in central Ottawa, they are still less expensive and have a lot more room to grow and increase in value — great for investors.
9. What’s your advice for upcoming buyers and sellers?
For home sellers: you still have to list with the best agents out there. The Paul Rushforth Real Estate team is better positioned than the average agent to generate a bigger return for you. We’ll give you all the right advice before you sell your home.
We won’t risk leaving thousands of dollars on the table. We know how to market your property and bring in as many qualified buyers as possible. We also know how to deal with multiple offers and will work to get them higher.
For home buyers: my advice is exactly the same. You have to choose an experienced agent. Our team is savvy and creative enough to coach you as a buyer and suggest strategies you might not think of alone.
For instance, we’ll help make sure that you’re hard pre-approved and arrange a pre-inspection before the offer date. Other strategies — like sending a video or a letter to the sellers — can help, too. Your Paul Rushforth agent gives you an edge over other buyers.
Hire Agents Who Are Ready For 2021!
Seek out expert guidance when you join in the roller coaster ride which is the 2021 Ottawa real estate market. Our team of qualified realtors are there for you — whether you’ll be selling, buying, or investing.
We’re up to speed with the latest Ottawa housing market predictions and are ready to advise you on topics such as realistic prices, hidden costs of buying or selling, obtaining or discharging a mortgage, or selecting a property with the best potential return on investment.