Thursday, March 14, 2013

Marnie Bennett hits it out of the park as Ottawa Condo Sales Stay Stong

With condos now accounting for over two-thirds of new home sales in Ottawa, Bennett Property Shop continues to rule the leaderboard

While condo sales in some parts of the country began to level off in 2012, the condomarket in Ottawa continued its upward trajectory. For starters, one in five resale homes sold last year were condominium-class residences. But the truly impressive numbers, released in CMHC’s fall report, showed that multiple-unit dwellings accounted for a whopping 73 per cent of all new home starts in Ottawa. As only a small fraction of these consists of rental units, it would seem the Capital has conclusively entered the age of the condo.

Astonishingly, there’s one independently-owned firm that’s responsible for more than a quarter of the city’s new condo sales. Headed up by Ottawa’s own Condo Queen Marnie Bennett, Bennett Property Shop Realty has chalked up more than 2,000 new condo sales over the last five years alone. Given that the average price of Ottawa condos hovers around $260,000, this means Bennett and her team have generated sales for their developer clients in the neighbourhood of 500 million dollars. If that figure grabs your attention, you’re not alone.

The ability to generate such heady numbers is one very good reason that Bennett’s boutique company is known as Ottawa’s go-to marketing and real estate firm for builders and developers. With a 24-member real estate team and a comprehensive marketing arm, Bennett Property Shop has accompanied numerous condo and housing projects from conception to sale, building long-term business partnerships with industry leaders along the way.

“Sometimes we’re consulted from the very start; other times, we’re brought in just before a condo launches to handle sales. We’re used to working full tilt – we can handle whatever’s thrown at us,” says Bennett, laughing.

Bennett is forthright about the secret of her marketing success. “I’ve been in this business a long time,” she says. “I know how to strike the right balance between innovative approaches and the tried and true. We’re not afraid to go with the bold strokes – that’s what gets the attention of home buyers – but there’s got to be substance underneath.”

Along with other real estate insiders, Bennett sees no evidence of a condo bubble on the horizon. “Condos really are becoming the housing of choice among many home buyers,” she says. “In Toronto, condos now make up over 50 per cent of all new home sales – and if you take a look at RBC’s 2012 report, you’ll see that this is completely in keeping with demand. As a city grows in population, it’s natural that housing will begin to shift from sprawling single homes to more space-efficient condos. It’s one of the ways cities evolve.”

Another statistic worth noting is the increase in value of Ottawa condominiums. Sales of condos in the upper range – that is, those priced at half a million dollars and up – doubled in 2012. Numbers like these can’t be explained by inflation alone.

“The media often point to first-time home buyers as the reason that the condo market is thriving,” says Bennett. “And it’s true, they do account for a large slice of the pie. But we’re finding that there’s a growing appetite for upscale, downtown condos among middle-aged professionals and baby boomers. From where I stand, it looks like a trend that’s going to continue.”
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