Is it more challenging to sell a home in the winter?


 
That is a good question, and if you ask around you will likely get a whole host of different opinions.

I think it depends on each individual’s personal and financial circumstances more than the weather, and the state of the market is a factor too, of course.

Yes, spring and fall are generally considered peak seasons to buy and sell in Ontario. The truth is that real estate transactions occur all year ‘round but there may be a slightly different experience in the colder months.

While buyers and sellers may be more active in the spring and fall, it doesn’t necessarily mean that winter is a bad time to sell.

What do I mean by that? Well, if there are fewer homes listed in the winter, your property has the potential to get more attention from prospective buyers. As well, you can be pretty sure that if someone takes the time to look at your home in sub-zero temperatures, they are serious about finding a place and closing a deal.

Having said that, every transaction is different. So, if this is something you are considering, here are a few things I would encourage you to think about and discuss with your agent to determine if selling in the winter is a good option for you.

Compare the closing dates of your current and next home. If the closing of your new property is not right away, and there is a reason to assume that the market is not ideal for your sale, then you may wish to delay selling your current home until the spring market is in full swing.

If you choose to wait to list your current property even though the closing date for your new one is soon, make sure you are comfortable with the financial implications of owning two properties at the same time and arranging bridge financing.

Remember that public safety is paramount. Depending on where you live in the province, you might typically receive lots of snow in the winter months. That’s why walkways, stairs and sometimes even roofs must be cleared of snow and ice and maintained at all times. This is a vital part of the selling process in winter, especially if there are lots of people attending showings – often on short notice.

I would also encourage you to confirm with your insurance provider that you have adequate coverage on the property in the event of an unexpected incident.

Selling a home takes time and attention. As always, I suggest hiring a suitable real estate agent who understands your situation and communication preferences and can provide strategic advice. Before you begin working with an agent, ask questions about their experience, expertise, services, references, fee structure, availability, and anything related to how they plan to promote the sale of your home, with specific questions about the impact of winter and snow.

With that said, although agents are trained professionals who can guide you through the sales process, always remember that you are in the driver’s seat. So make sure you are doing your own research and closely reviewing market trends as well. Discuss what you learn with your agent. Agents appreciate knowledgeable buyers and sellers.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.


This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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