Home Selling

Myth vs. reality: Selling your home in the winter months

Baby it’s cold outside! Does that mean that selling in the winter is a bad idea? We bust 4 myths that say otherwise
selling home in winter months

Although it’s colder outside and you’re tired of layering up for the fourth time in a row this week, Toronto real estate agent David Fleming says the best time to sell is when you need to. This includes selling a home in winter months.

There is no one answer to the question of whether selling your property in the winter is a good idea. However, there are some myths that we want to debunk for those sellers who are looking for a little sweater weather encouragement to list.

“It’s so important to keep on top of current market conditions,” said Fleming, who also noted that in 2017 there were record-prices achieved in February and March.

Whether you’re worried about a lack of buyer presence in the market or how your home might look in the winter photos — we know there is more to those blanket statements that often scare sellers off from listing their property even though they are on a tight timeline or are ready to make a move.

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

Fewer-shoppers-in-winter-selling-home-in-winter
Walking in Central Park

“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. While many people assume spring is the best time to buy, 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 during the 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 weather just to see a property they were only moderately interested in.

Myth No. 2:
Your home won’t show well

Decorating-holiday-winter-bedroom. Selling home in winter months

Although you’re worried about having to shovel sidewalks and clean up dirty snow — remember that yellow snow rule? — 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. Ensure your exterior walkways are shovelled, light the fire, and keep the heat up, particularly on the colder days.

Plus, there are some advantages to selling in the winter when it comes to highlighting 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 and also tend to sell for higher prices than homes without. The upgrades in your home can easily be highlighted in the winter months when would-be buyers can see and feel the advantages of an energy efficient home. This works in your favour as 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.

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, meaning 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 — and this prompts a bidding war. This means a home may already be under-priced when it’s bid up that extra 5% to 10% during the springtime.

Then 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.

The key is to know the market, understand your home’s key advantages and disadvantages and then list it accordingly. That may mean that 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

Coffee-window-blanket-winter-waiting

According to TheRedPin, January is the best time to buy a property in the Greater Toronto Area. 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. Although you may have been quoted as saying “I’ll never sell in the winter,” sometimes we change our mind 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.

Alyssa Davies
Alyssa Davies

Alyssa is a personal finance blogger who focuses on mixing finances with laughter. Through her blog, Mixed Up Money, she helps people relate, learn and become inspired. She recently joined Zolo as the content specialist and brings her passion for property and smart money matters to this growing brand.