I’ve accepted a promotion and will be relocating to another province. I live in Toronto and keep hearing that selling a home during the winter can be a challenge. Is there any truth to this?

Congratulations on your promotion. While spring and fall are considered peak real estate seasons in Ontario, Ontario, homes still sell in winter. In fact, I bought my most recent home in the dead of winter.

If you ask around, you’ll probably get a mix of answers to your question. Some people may recommend that you hold off on listing your property to try to take advantage of the buzz of activity that traditionally accompanies the spring market. On the flip side, the winter market may surprise you and become a strategic timing advantage! I will venture to say that, you can be fairly certain that if someone takes the time to look at your property in sub-zero temperatures, they’re probably pretty serious about closing a deal. In the end, only you truly know when the right time to buy or sell might be for you.

You’ll want to consider several factors when assessing your options.

    • Closing date: You mentioned that you will be relocating to another province. Depending on the date of your relocation, you will want to weigh the merits of listing now or delaying your sale until the spring market begins. If you choose to wait, be wary of the potential costs of owning two properties at the same time and arranging bridge financing, which will add costs over and above the multiple mortgage payments.
    • Proximity to the property: Depending on where you plan to live while your property is on the market and afterward, you could be faced with a number of considerations that may require additional expense, such as; property insurance, snow removal and utility fees. It is also important to work with your insurance provider to ensure that you have adequate coverage on the property in the event of a sudden or unexpected incident while the property is vacant.
    • Public safety: Some areas of the province may generally be milder than others, but there is always a risk of ice and snow once you have listed the property. Walkways, stairs and sometimes even roofs need to be cleared and maintained in the interest of public safety. This is a very important consideration if you do choose to enter the market now and eager buyers begin to tour your property.
    • Time and attention: The sale of your home is a major transaction that you ought to be actively involved in. With new responsibilities at work, it may divert your attention away from the pending move. Check to see if your employer has any relocation advice or programs to assist with the transition.

I suggest finding a real estate salesperson who understands your situation, can assist you in your decision making, and will adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their experience, services, references, fee structure, availability, and anything related to how they plan to market your house.

Keep in mind, people buy and sell homes year-round in Canada and no one has a crystal ball. There is no way to guarantee that waiting for peak market season will equal a higher sale price for your property. Real estate salespeople are trained and knowledgeable professionals who can guide you through the sales process. Listen to their advice, but always remember that you’re in the driver’s seat.

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

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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