Ottawa Market Pulse Update by CREA (The Canadian Real Estate Association)
Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Director and Senior Economist, Housing Data and Market Analysis, recently presented his Ottawa Housing Market Update. Very informative and well researched.
Pages one through eight review the overall Canadian housing market, and pretty much confirm what we have been seeing in Ottawa. Ever-increasing population (with a drop in 2020 of course when immigration was dramatically slowed) and a massive drop in the number of active homes listed for sale. The fifth page “Canadian Active Residential Listings” is particularly interesting. We can presume that many additional homes have been built since 1997, which is the first date on this chart. And yet 2021 shows the fewest number of active listings of any year since 1997!
The “Ottawa Active Residential Listings” charts on pages 11 and 12 are even more dramatic than the overall Canada page and provide particularly important insights. Active listings have been dropping precipitously in Ottawa since about 2015! So it’s not just about COVID and it’s increasingly a seller’s market.
He then shows the increase in population as year-over-year changes. A slowdown in 2020 with COVID, but the 5-year rolling change shows a steady increase.
The next chart that I found particularly interesting was on page 23 “Ottawa Housing Completions Adjusted for Population Growth compared to Actual“. Page 20 shows that Housing Unit Completions in Ottawa have been fairly consistent over the past few years – yet the city continues to grow quickly! And that difference is what the chart on page 23 explains – that Ottawa is falling further and further behind in having housing available for the population (and it’s not just about price).
Jumping back to page 3 (Canadian Population Aged 30-39) and page 4 (Housing Unit Completions) shows another big issue, and it’s one that Ottawa is particularly resistant to dealing with. There is a huge wave of young adults who are starting families. And the one and two-bedroom apartments that the 20-somethings enjoyed near rapid transit are not the perfect places to be raising children – particularly when one or both parents are working from home!
There are many other factors at play in all this of course. Many seniors who would have downsized from their suburban homes are staying in them longer: travel has been curtailed for almost two years, retirement homes became notorious in the early days of the pandemic for mismanagement of health issues, and many are able to stay in their familiar home for longer.
However, even having more seniors sell their suburban homes and buy from the millennials who want to sell their condos, the charts show that Ottawa is many years from creating sufficient housing to meet the demand.