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Myth vs. reality: Selling your home in winter months

selling home in winter months

Selling your home in winter goes against everything you have heard about.  But Toronto real estate agent David Fleming says the best time to sell is when you need to. This includes selling a home during the winter months.

There is no one answer to the question of whether selling your property during the holidays is a good idea. However, there are some myths that we want to debunk for those sellers who are looking for a little encouragement to list and sell their home in the winter.  “It’s so important to keep on top of current market conditions,” said Fleming.

Don’t worry about a lack of buyer presence in the market or how your home might look in winter photos.  We know there is more to those blanket statements that often scare sellers away from listing their property even though they are on a tight timeline or are ready to make a move.

Here are four myths about selling your home in winter months.

Myth No. 1:
Fewer people look for property in the winter

Snowplow removes snow off icy road in winter.
Homeowners have a notion the selling a home in winter is difficult.  But that’s not always true.

“There’s an old real estate saying that states that the best time to buy a property is: when you find the right one,” explains Fleming. Most people assume spring is the best time to buy.  However, Fleming points out that families and homeowners need to move every day of the year — through rain, shine and even that dreaded blizzard the Weather Network warned us about.

In fact, one thing to consider when selling your home in winter months is that most companies relocate their employees at the start of the year — in the winter season. As a result, these relocated families are often listing their former home for sale and shopping for a new home during the coldest, wettest winter months.

As an added bonus, sellers who list their home for sale in the winter can expect two guarantees: you’ll get fewer showings and more serious buyers. Why? Because very few people will take the time to bundle up and start their vehicle in -30 degree weather just to see a property they were only moderately interested in.

Myth No. 2:
Your home won’t show well

Young beautiful blonde woman with cup of coffee sitting home in
Creating a comfortable and cozy environment will help when you sell your home in winter.

Naturally you worry about having to shovel sidewalks and clean up dirty snow if you’re selling your home in winter.  The reality is some homes tend to show best in the winter. The snow helps the home sparkle, while the home’s interior can look cozy and inviting. Just make sure you play up these features. Make sure to shovel your exterior walkways, light the fire and keep the heat up; particularly on the colder days.  By simply making a few adjustments and incorporating a few new design trends while staging your home, you will create a beautiful and desirable home for potential buyers.

Plus, there are some advantages to selling in the winter.  It’s an ideal time to highlight not-so-noticeable upgrades like extra insulation or a new high-efficiency furnace. According to Natural Resources Canada, properties with energy efficiency certificates hold higher occupancy levels.  They also tend to sell for higher prices than homes without. You can easily highlight the upgrades in your home in the winter months.  Would-be buyers can see and feel the advantages of an energy efficient home. This works in your favour.  The last thing a motivated buyer wants is a property that requires a tonne of maintenance during the coldest season of the year.

Myth No. 3:
Your property won’t sell for as much as it would in the Spring

Selling home in winter months home with sale sign

The big fear about selling in the winter is that you just won’t get as much for your home when compared to listing and selling in the spring selling season. While there is some truth to this — on average, homes sell for 5% to 10% more in the spring — you need to keep a few facts in mind when selling your home in winter months.

First, the spring offers a lot of competition and not all homes sell. On average, more than a third of homes need to be re-listed before a formal offer is made.  This means many homes listed in the spring don’t sell straight away.

Plus, there is a lot more competition in the spring. One way to counter this is to price a home competitively — meaning for less than it’s worth.  This has the potential to prompt a bidding war. So a home may already be under-priced when a bid goes over asking by an extra 5% to 10% during the springtime.

There’s also the overall market in your area. “In 2017, active listings were down some 50% in January, February, and March in the Toronto market, so it was an incredible time to sell,” said Fleming.  Although it is difficult for you to predict the trends, your Realtor can help you anticipate how active the home sales market might be.

The key is to know the market, understand your home’s key advantages and disadvantages and then list it accordingly.  For some homes, it’s ideal to list in the winter when there are fewer homes competing for attention and more eager buyers.

Myth No. 4:
Your home will stay on the market for too long

Two mugs for tea or coffee with woolen things near cozy fireplace in a country house in winter
Create a cozy fire when selling your house in winter.

January is the best time to buy a property in the Greater Toronto Area if you’re thinking about selling your home in winter months. This bodes true across all of Canada, with a less competitive market and more realistic pricing compared to the increase in listings and market value through the spring months.

If you’re worried that your home won’t sell right away, consider the fact that agents have more time to dedicate to negotiations between the buyer and the seller due to a lower volume of clients in the winter months. However, during January, February and March there tends to be less negotiating since both the buyer and seller are motivated to complete the sale.

“There’s no one answer, across the board, each and every year here,” said Fleming. “This is why it’s so important to keep on top of current market conditions.”

If you know you’re going to sell your property sometime in the next year, monitor the market to better understand trends among buyers and sellers.  You may have thought “I’ll never sell in the winter.”  But sometimes we change our minds when the market says it’s time.  From motivated buyers to less time wasted on showing your property — winter is often a great time to sell if you are looking to move and need to sell your home during winter months.

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Alyssa Davies

Alyssa is an award-winning personal finance blogger and founder of She writes about being a mom, overcoming personal debts, and how to get away with affording your ridiculously expensive latte habit. A new homeowner, Alyssa brings her real-life knowledge of the Canadian real estate market and smart money matters to this growing brand.