Ottawa

Real estate market hits new heights in Ottawa-Gatineau

Despite an ongoing shortage of affordable housing, 2019 was a record year for real estate in the capital.

Record comes amidst affordable housing shortage

Ottawa's housing market is set to continue its upward climb in 2020. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

The number of house sales and property prices soared in the capital last year and aren't showing any signs of slowing down.

The trend looks set to continue in 2020, but comes at a time when the region is grappling with a lack of affordable housing.

"Each quarter, the properties have increased in value," said Angelo Toscano, a real estate agent based in Orléans.

One of the biggest factors driving the increase is market demand.

"We started the year fairly stable. We were looking at about three buyers for each property. Now we have eight buyers per property," said Toscano. 

This demand often results in bidding wars between buyers, with the winner often paying above the list price.

Real estate agent Angelo Toscano said that high demand for Ottawa houses often leads to bidding wars. (Radio-Canada)

A similar trend is also happening in Gatineau, Que., according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Last year was the fifth straight year that sales grew in the city, according to Lukas Jasmin-Tucci, a spokesperson for the corporation.

The forecast for 2020 is similar, with prices expected to increase 10 to 12 per cent, he said.

That's putting strain on first-time home buyers who can find themselves priced out of the market.

Young people are less likely to enter the real estate market these days, according to the CMHC. Instead, many of them continue renting. 

As real estate continues to become more expensive, this trend will continue, said Jasmin-Tucci. 

Affordable housing shortage

While the real estate market is going strong, the region is also struggling with a lack of affordable housing.

Many organizations have been sounding the alarm for months. The CMHC estimates that Ottawa's rental housing vacancy rate was at 1.6 per cent in 2018, the last year for which there is data.

Across the Ottawa River, the vacancy rate in Gatineau sits at 1.2 per cent, the lowest in the province.

The Quebec government has put in place an emergency assistance program to help people who are homeless, as well as to assist cities that are coping with a housing shortage. 

House prices are expected to jump between 10 and 12 per cent in 2020. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

While the price of homes in the region continues to grow, advocacy groups persist in their push for investments in affordable housing. 

There are approximately 10,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in Ottawa, according to data from the City of Ottawa.

With files from Radio-Canada's Alexandra Angers and Jérôme Bergeron

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