As the cheer of the holiday season passes and the long, dark Canadian winter looms, listing your home for sale may not seem the brightest idea. After all, inclement weather, darker days and dropping temperatures don’t exactly inspire one to move house.
But while it’s true that winter is a quieter season for the housing market – there were 25 per cent fewer homes sold in the Toronto real estate market in the first month of 2017 compared to the previous May – selling your home now doesn’t have to mean a lingering listing or slashed profits.
In fact, with a little strategy, being a cold-weather seller can be a great opportunity – here are four areas to focus on to score a hot deal on your home’s sale, even in the dead of winter.
1. Market to Motivated Buyers
While many buyers shelve their searches over the holidays, a small yet determined group emerges in January; these buyers often mean business and are shopping under a time constraint. Other buyers may intend to purchase in the spring and are preparing by applying for their pre-approvals now. Chances are, they’ll take a peek at existing inventory once they have their maximum budgets in hand.
“The fact is, if you’ve waited until spring to get a mortgage pre-approval, you’re already late – and there are a few real estate market factors that will work in your favour if you act now,” says Mike Bricknell, a mortgage broker at CanWise Financial.
“It is very beneficial to get your mortgage pre-approval when the housing market is quieter, especially as there have been many recent industry changes that may have affected what you can afford.”
For example, this year, newly-implemented B-20 mortgage rules that have reduced affordability for many buyers may prompt them to take extra advantage of this January’s less competitive market.
2. Take Advantage of Tight Supply
Despite the uptick in activity, January is typically a dry spell for inventory; fewer people want to list during the holidays while others wait for the spring market. That means a shortage of homes for sale facing buyers who do turn up in the new year. That can inflate seller’s conditions, meaning homes sold in January often go for a higher price than they do in December. For example, those who sold their GTA homes in January 2017 received on average $40,273 for their home than those who sold before the holidays, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.
The market may also be in for a brisker-than-usual start to 2018, if an unseasonably warm autumn is any indication; sales that typically receded 13 – 24 per cent over the five-year trend between October and November rose 4 per cent during that time frame this year, an uptick that could carry into the new year.
3. Get Special Attention
During peak season, a flood of transactions keeps various real estate professionals – such as lawyers, mortgage brokers, appraisers, stagers, and agents – hopping to keep up with the demand. During the slower months, however, those pros will have more time to dedicate to your deal, especially your real estate agent, who can really take a hands-on approach to marketing your home.
However, unlike in the spring when Toronto townhouses, condos, and detached homes sell like hot cakes, investing in the look of your winter listing is extra important. Springing for professional staging and decluttering, as well as superficial improvements like floor upgrades and neutral paint, can be especially advantageous when your listing is among just a few.
4. Think Cozy
When it comes to showing your home, positioning it as a welcome respite from the cold can work wonders. While well-salted and shoveled driveway and stairs are a must, leaving out matts and hooks for buyers’ heavy outwear is an appreciated touch. Think hygge – the Danish concept of all things cozy – when setting your home’s overall ambiance. A cranked thermostat and equally warm textures, such as flannel plaid throws and plush area rugs – will most appeal to winter-weary buyers.