It’s History! Ottawa’s Oversaturated Condo Market is a Thing of the Past

Anyone who’s been an Ottawa resident for a lion’s share of the last decade or so has heard much ado about the oversaturation of condominiums that burdens the city’s market…
…until recently!
Ottawa’s condo market has had a tough go at it in years-gone-by, however, 2017 has been the year of the condo in the capital city. Formerly timid condo owners have eased their way back into selling-mode, now that the city’s number of unsold units isn’t such an imposing, value-reducing figure. Ottawa Real Estate Board president, Rick Eisert stated that May was a record month for overall unit sales by a wide margin, citing the condo market’s 44.6% jump since last year as a considerable driving factor of this impressive period. For those yet unsure of when to sell your condo, it seems like the right time is arriving.
What does this mean for you?
Bennett Property Shop believes this trend should be of interest to Ottawans of all walks: first-time buyers, sellers, retirees, or investors; read on to find out how this affects each of you.
Let’s put first things first, what exactly defines a condominium property?
The first image that comes to mind when you hear “condo” (or “condominium”) may likely be that of an urban, high-rise apartment building, which would be correct. However, a condo is more broadly defined as a piece of real estate separated into individually owned units, with some sort of jointly owned common areas, or amenities, such as hallways, walkways, pools, streets or lobbies. This definition excludes the commonly-mistaken townhouse from its scope, as a townhouse or semi-detached homeowner typically owns a piece of land, in contrast to condo owners who own a piece of a structure on a collectively owned piece of land.
Condo owners typically belong to a condo association, which is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the building and the property. Belonging to the condo association lifts the weight of a lot of regular chores off the shoulders of the owners as individuals, however it is mandatory and includes dues which must be paid regularly. Stemming from this is the major advantage to buying a condo on resale, rather than a brand new one. Brand new condo fees are unpredictable and have no history to show for. When purchasing a resale condo, comfort can be found in looking at past costs, and knowing that they are more likely to follow the same trend.
What are the advantages of owning a condo?
Oftentimes, urban condominiums are high-rise apartment buildings, allowing for a dense number of inhabitants to live on a relatively small property. The biggest advantage to this efficient use of space is the capacity for a high-volume of condos to be present right in the thick of a city. Ottawa has plenty of beautiful, spacious condos for sale in its downtown areas, allowing for the closest proximity to the heart of the city. This reduces the need for commuting, owning a car, or planning extensively for a night out in the city. Owning a condominium means no need to mow the lawn, rake the leaves, or maintain the property, as the condo association takes care of these tedious (and potentially expensive) chores or stressors.
Condos of all types also often come with amenities and features that act as a pleasant bonus to the owners. A great deal of them have swimming pools, gyms, entertainment space, or gardens which they do not have to personally tend to. These amenities are all ones that would otherwise warrant a higher price tag, and maintenance requirements, were they not collectively covered by the owners of the units who share their usage.
The other major pro to purchasing a condo is that they usually come with a lower price tag than a detached home. In the month of July, the average price of a condominium unit was just over half the price of a detached home, making the more affordable choice clear.
Lately in Ottawa, the biggest pro to owning a condo is the trajectory they’ve been taking in the market. Property values going up and sales volume doing the same bodes well for condo owners and investors, as they’re looking to be comfortably on the rise in the Capital.
What are the cons of condo ownership?
If there weren’t drawbacks to owning condos, then everyone would have one, wouldn’t they? As with everything, there are two sides to the condo coin; here are the negatives:
The lower price point, naturally, comes with lower space on average, compared to a detached home or townhouse. Condos use their space efficiently, however that often means sacrificing extra rooms, lower square footage, and the lack of a yard to enjoy. The lack of personally owned space also commonly equates to less privacy, as the close proximity to other units in apartments does not allow for the individual space one may need or desire, and the shared space of detached condominiums aren’t exactly paramount in terms of privacy either.
Condo amenities, though nice, are also not free by any stretch. Condominium corps do take care of the maintenance side of things, however the costs are covered by regular dues, paid to the association by the individual unit owners. This amounts to monthly costs that are not going towards the mortgage, and continue to be charged after the unit is paid off. Condo fees can be volatile, particularly when the board decides that large, non-regularly scheduled maintenance, is required.
Does a condo suit my buyer profile?
Condominiums are an excellent life choice for young professionals and first-time homebuyers, especially those who work in the heart of the city as they need not dedicate nearly as much time to commuting. The young professional or property rookie may also love the lower price tag, as a condo is a much easier way to get their feet wet in the real estate market; time to make that jump from being a tenant to an owner. Those with particularly intensive working hours will also greatly benefit with the limited time required to spend on their home’s upkeep.
For similar reasons as the young professional, new families, and couples without kids are excellent fits for a condo. With less of a need for large amounts of living space, these types of families have their needs met by most condos. It is also more likely that such people are on somewhat more limiting of a budget, so they too will benefit from the more reasonable purchasing point. When families start to grow, apartment-style condos may no longer meet their needs, but those who like the condo lifestyle may opt to switch to a detached unit in more suburban neighbourhoods.
In the past, the oft-asked question “is buying a condo in Ottawa a good investment?” may have been answered negatively, but with the positive market trends we’ve seen lately, that is the case no more. Investors are another group who fit the bill for condo ownership. Ottawa, having plenty of temporary residents and post-secondary students in the city, requires a substantial amount of rental housing; for this, condominiums are the perfect fit. The owner of the unit doesn’t have to outsource upkeep, and payments on the condo are substantially offset or covered by tenants. As property values increase, the low-risk-high-reward condo investment pays off handsomely.
Lastly, retirees and empty-nesters are well-suited for condo buying. Diminishing need for space is something that comes with the territory of retiring, or sending kids off to school. This sets up this demographic perfectly for life in a condominium. With increasing age comes less of an inclination or ability to actively take care of a property, particularly a larger one. The lower upkeep demands of condos makes them a perfect match for those who are starting to settle down.
How to approach buying a condo
Does a condo sound right for you and your needs? If so, don’t hesitate to contact a realtor at Bennett Property Shop Realty. Let the best real estate agents in Ottawa help you capitalize on the city’s flourishing condo market!

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