The cold winds of January were no match for the hot real estate market in the Ottawa Valley as home sales set a new January record despite the massive shortage in listings.
The number of homes sold through the Renfrew County Real Estate Board (RCREB) totalled 108 units in December 2021. This was essentially unchanged, down just 0.9 per cent (one sale) from December 2020.
What makes this record-setting pace stand out is this took place despite the number of new listings decreasing by 23.2 per cent from December 2020.
There were 63 new residential listings in December 2021. This was the lowest number of new listings added in December in more than a decade. The December sales capped off the high sales trend that began in the summer of 2020, following similar trends found throughout several rural communities across the province.
The onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 started a slow but consistent rise in the number of working and retired Canadians leaving several medium and large urban centres with many settling in smaller rural communities within a day's drive of their former urban homes.
There has been a national trend of home sales set at 20 per cent above the five-year average and 40.3 percent above the 10-year average for December.
Pat Scott, president of the RCREB, said the sales volume in 2021 was a high mark for the Ottawa Valley, and she does not expect that rising trend to dramatically decrease in 2022.
"It all comes down to supply and demand," Scott said. "Like any industry or product, the harder it is to get and keep a healthy stock, the more expensive that product will be. I don't see it slowing down this year because the inventory is so low."
On an annual basis, home sales totalled a record 2,287 units over the course of 2021. This was a moderate gain of 4.5 percent from the same period in 2020.
The average price of homes sold in December 2021 was $446,606, a significant gain of 36.8 per cent from December 2020.
The more comprehensive annual average price was $406,103, advancing 31.2 per cent from all of 2020.
Scott said the rapid increase in housing is something the RCREB has not experienced before and local realtors have had to learn how to lower expectations for both sellers and buyers.
"There have definitely been adjustments in the way we as realtors have had to meet the expectations of all parties involved," she said. "As an organization we are always talking to each other to understand what is happening and sometimes it is a challenge when working with a seller. One thing our office does not do is put a hold on offers."
The dollar value of all home sales in December 2021 was $48.2 million, up sharply by 35.5 percent from the same month in 2020. This was also a new record for the month of December.
Although the actual dollar value has also risen over the last year, it has not stopped first-time home buyers from taking the big step from home prospecting to home ownership.
"We have seen the average price of a residential home rise dramatically in the last year," Scott said. "When I first started in this business, to complete or hear of a sale closing over $1 million was very rare. Today, it is happening much more frequently and now any sale over $700,000 is standard."
Scott noted another difference is the sales are no longer concentrated in the small urban centres, but they are spread all over the county and that is good business for everyone.
Active residential listings numbered 115 units on the market at the end of December, a large decline of 20.7 per cent from the end of December 2020. Active listings haven't been this low in the month of December in more than 15 years.
Active listings were 69.3 per cent below the five-year average and 79.5 per cent below the 10-year average for the month of December.
"We have no idea when, or if, our inventory will meet the demand in the short term," she said. "All we can do as realtors is work with what the market gives us and right now, for any listing to stay more than 30 days is a rarity."