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September 6th, 2018

August 2018 - Outaouais Real Estate Market Update

The long HOT Summer of 2018 is drawing to a close and many people have been asking how the real estate market is doing. In short, the year was up and down - actually more down and then followed by an up. After a slow start to the year in the first few months, the second quarter showed some very positive growth throughout the province of Quebec and in the Outaouais. Overall, for this year to end-of-July, the number of sales across the province, acording to Centris® statistics, show just over a four percent increase compared to the same period in 2017.

For the Outaouais region the year of 2018 also started off slow with decreases in number of sales for February (-19% ) and March (-13%) but then bouncing back in the second quarter, highlighted by banner sales increases of 23% in June. So far, as of July, 2018 for the whole of the Outaouais region the number of sales was up by 5% over 2017.

For the region of Gatineau, surprisingly the outlying municipality of Masson-Angers showed the highest increase in number of sales of +27% (for a relatively small area), the City of Gatineau improved by 4%, Hull region was up 8% while Aylmer showed a minor 3% decrease over last year. Much of the increase in number of sales in the urban areas was due to improvements in Condo and Co-Property sales (not Plex units) - FINALLY Condos are selling much faster than in the past.

Breaking down the rural areas of the Outaouais further we see that Val-des-Monts municipality made up for lost ground last year and so far in 2018 has posted a huge 40% increase in number of sales, Cantley sales also improved significantly by +29%, while La Pêche stayed fairly level with just a three percent increse this year. On the other hand Chelsea's previous rapid improvements in 2017 slowed down in 2018 as the number of sales dropped by 11%. However the number of properties for sale in Chelsea dropped quite a bit in 2018 which has contributed to the decrease in number of sales.

The FCIQ ( Fédération des chambres immobiliéres du Quebec) in their 'Barométre du Marché Résidentiel, 2e trimestre 2018', is stating that the peripherial regions of the Outaouais (including ALL of the rural municipalities) are staying in a Buyer's Market condition. Conversely the Metropolitan areas of Gatineau are enjoying more favourable conditons by just barely being considered a Seller's Market for single family detached units. Plex and Condo sales still remain in a Buyer's Market level but the trend for Condos sales is rapidly moving toward a better Balanced Market after many slow months.

Also to note that throughout most of the Outaouais (as in Chelsea municipality mentioned above), especially in the urban regions of Gatineau, the number of active listings (people trying to sell) is dropping. This is good news as this number, is in large part, responsible for the market conditons. Therefore fewer sellers (if the number of potential Buyers does not decrease) may translate into an upward pressure on prices should this trend continue into 2019.

Forecast

Despite real estate sales cooling off during 2018 in many areas of Canada, especially in some of the large urban areas, the Outaouais and Quebec have been doing quite well. Also the impact of tightening mortgage regulations including the stricter Stress Tests for mortage applicants, although dicouraging some buyers from purchasing, have so far had little effects on the market in Quebec.

Small recent increases in mortgage rates are concerning, although very modest this trend is expected to continue and further small increases in rates for 2019 are likely. These mortgage rate increases may slightly cool off the real estate market futher but most forecasts for Quebec and the Outaouais remain positive for the next few months at least, certainly no major improvements or declines on the horizon into 2019.

Impact on Sellers

So for Sellers in most of the Outaouais region the market has improved very modestly and prices are remaining quite stable. Under most market conditions there are always preferred locations and neighborhoods for Buyers and where Sellers may be optimistic in their expectations and pricing, but in most areas it is imperative for those wishing to sell a property within a reasonable time frame to stay competetive with price. Buyers still have a good selection of suitable properties to choose from and many remain cautious and careful.

Impact on Buyers

Under these market conditions it is wise for Buyers and those who may be up for mortgage renewal to lock in a rate with your lender. That means getting the FULL approval for a mortgage including a complete update and review of your file and paperwork by the lender in order to be assured to lock in at the lowest rate. Mortgage rates going up means good time to buy!

There is a good selection of properties in most neighborhoods on the market and 'generally' current market conditons favor Buyers, however for popular locations and neighborhoods you may have to prepare for competion and sometimes multiple offers. For the urban regions be prepared for even more competion as the market is heating up somehat faster than most rural areas.