Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

House Hunting in...Ottawa

House Hunting in...Ottawa

Wednesday, 22 November, 2017 - 11:30
Marc Fowler for The New York Times

This 17th-floor unit is in a 20-story condominium built in 2015 in the Glebe neighborhood of Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. The 155-unit high-rise on Bank Street, a prominent thoroughfare, overlooks TD Place Stadium, home to the city’s Canadian Football League team, the Redblacks.

The apartment has 2,100 square feet of living space, including two bedrooms, two full baths and a powder room. The floors are hardwood throughout, said Sean McCann, a broker with Royal Lepage Team Realty, which has the listing. The living and dining areas are open to the kitchen and lined with windows that have views of the stadium, downtown and the Rideau Canal. The kitchen has solid birch cabinets, quartz countertops, a large center island and stainless steel appliances, including a wine cooler. A den with a balcony is separate from the main living area.

The master bedroom has panoramic views of the city, and the master bath has double sinks, a tub and stone-tiled, walk-in shower.

A parking spot in the underground garage is included. Building amenities include concierge service, a fitness center and a lounge overlooking the football stadium, Mr. McCann said.

The building, designed by Barry J. Hobin, a well-known architect in Ottawa, is close to shops and restaurants. During the winter months, the canal is transformed into a winding skateway that stretches for nearly five miles. It brings thousands of visitors to the city, while many residents use it to skate to work, Mr. McCann said.

Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s federal legislature, is about two miles away, and the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport is about six miles.


Unlike the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets, where rapid home-price growth has stoked fears of a housing bubble in recent years, the Ottawa market has been fairly flat. This year, however, sales of condominiums and single-family homes are up considerably.

“We had a change of government, and we went from a period of fiscal restraint to strong government spending and hiring,” which boosted the city’s population and housing demand, said Robert Kavcic, a senior economist with BMO Financial Group, in Toronto. “Ottawa’s kind of a funny market in that it operates on an island by itself, because the government sector is so big there.”

The condo market had been particularly soft since about 2011, because of a glut of new construction. But that surplus is now being rapidly absorbed, Mr. Kavcic said.

According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, as of the end of September, single-family sales were up 6.6 percent over last year, and the average sales price was up 7.2 percent, to 425,139 Canadian dollars, or about $331,000. Condo sales were up 23.5 percent, with a 4.6 percent increase in the average sales price, to 272,220 Canadian, or about $212,000.

“We’ve had a record number of condos that have sold this year for over $1 million,” said Rick Eisert, the board president and the managing broker of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group. He attributed the demand for high-end properties to the change in government, which he said eased concerns about job security, and to employment growth in the city’s tech sector.

The Ottawa neighborhoods commanding the highest prices are Rockcliffe Park and the Glebe, “well-established blue-chip communities” close to downtown, Mr. McCann said. Westboro, on the Ottawa River, has become especially trendy as development there has boomed, he said.


The “vast majority” of foreign buyers are Chinese investors, Mr. McCann said. “The revenue side of it doesn’t seem pressing for them,” he said. “We have buildings that are new that are empty — they are just happy to park their money there.”

Earlier this year, the province of Ontario instituted a 15 percent tax on nonresident buyers in the greater Toronto area, in hopes of cooling speculative activity and price increases in what many perceived as an overheated market. The tax does not apply to Ottawa, however, which could bring more foreign buyers to the city, Mr. McCann said.


The purchase process is similar to that in the United States: Buyers and sellers use their own real estate agents and lawyers. The agent’s commission, paid by the seller, is typically about five percent, Mr. McCann said.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers. Mortgages are available to foreign buyers, but lenders usually require at least 35 percent down, he said.

On average, purchase transaction fees, including a land transfer tax payable to the province of Ontario, total about 2 to 3 percent of the sale price. The transfer tax rate is graduated, with higher rates on higher values, up to a maximum of 2.5 percent.


English and French; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar = 78 cents)


The 2017 property taxes for this condominium are 13,816 Canadian dollars, or about $11,000, Mr. McCann said. Monthly maintenance is 909 Canadian dollars (about $700), which includes heat and water, he said.

The New York Times

Editor Picks