By Natalie Belovic

Things change. Sometimes they change more than you think.

Back in 1956, Ottawa house buyers paid about $13,000 for an average home. Would they have believed us if we had told them then that in 2000 the price would be around $159,000; and in 2010, about $327,000?

Now here we are in the Spring of 2020, and, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the average house price is close to $516,229, an increase of 19.3 per cent from a year ago. In trendier Ottawa neighbourhoods, the average is much higher ‒ inching its way up to nearly $1M.

Business is booming, prices are rising, and the Ottawa Real Estate Board says it’s not likely to decline. That means if you’re thinking about buying, now’s as good a time as any.

So in this ever-changing, fast-paced market, how do you compete with other buyers who are just as anxious as you are to get the perfect home for your budget?

Well, first of all, get informed. Find out what’s out there, what it costs, what the buying process is all about, and a basic understanding of the legalities. Know, realistically, what you can afford, and stick to that. Be prepared for a bidding war, when buyers offer more than the asking price and sellers are receiving multiple offers a day. It doesn’t always happen like that, but when it does, it will be important to have a good idea about what you’re doing and what you want, because speed and the ability to make a quick decision might be of the essence.

Your own knowledge is critical, so do your research before you begin the search. The next important step is to get to know a knowledgeable realtor. These are the people whose lifeblood is real estate. The savviest ones know the market inside out; they know all the ropes, and they are determined to do the best job they can for you. Your success is their success, after all.

Get to know the neighbourhood you think you want. Know the market. Know its history and where it seems to be headed. Speak to friends who know the area. Find whatever information you can get.

Go to open houses. It’s a good way to discover what’s out there, and the experience might even narrow down your likes and dislikes. If you haven’t found a realtor yet, this might be a good place to go shopping for him or her, too.

Have all your ducks in a row ‒ financial and legal arrangements ‒ before you start your search. This is a good idea not only for peace of mind but also because you will want to be ready to go with an offer when you have found the place you want.

When you do find your favourite realtor, let them keep you informed and updated on a daily basis, if need be. They usually know when new listings are coming up, and they can get you right “on it” from the first moment.

When sellers set up their listings to receive offers on a certain day, it’s with the expectation that the offers will be unconditional. You’ll want to have a top-notch inspector on speed dial. A good agent will help you with that.

Once you’ve done your research, your finances are organized, and you’ve found your realtor, the next step is forward, with confidence, knowing you’ve got this. Happy new home ahead!

Natalie Belovic is a broker with the Urban Ottawa Team, part of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Group, Brokerage.