Why December is a Unique Time to Buy or Sell a Home
Written by Penelope Graham

Monday, November 26th, 2018

The weather outside is frightful – hardly an ideal time for hosting an open house! The month of December may be filled with all things merry and bright, but in real estate circles, it's considered the "dead zone."

With family and vacations beckoning – not to mention inclement weather – many prospective buyers and sellers put their market ambitions on hold until January or the typically busier spring market. As a result, sales can plummet between 30 and 50 per cent at this time of year (based on October – December activity in Toronto over the last five years as reported by the Toronto Real Estate Board), while the number of days a listing remains on market rises by double digits.

"There's usually a correlation with the weather," real estate agent Carlos Moniz told Zoocasa. "Once the snow hits the ground, things tend to slow down."

But for those who must, getting into the market this time of year isn't necessarily futile. In fact, it can be a unique time to score a great deal or have your listing stand out. Here's how the December housing market can benefit you.

Your Listing May Get More Attention

One consistent trend this time of year is there's always less inventory. The number of new listings coming to market shrank by as much as 24 – 69 per cent between October and December over the last five years, greatly reducing available homes for sale. While this can be a point of frustration for buyers, it can also mean your listing will stand out more than it might during busier market periods.

Sellers can also play the seasonality to their advantage, staging with tasteful wreathes, cozy knits and candles galore to make their home seem a toasty refuge against the raging winter.

Everyone is Motivated

Often, those braving the winter holiday market are time-pressed and prompted by a changing life circumstance such as divorce, relocating for a new job, or an expanding family. That means buyers and sellers alike are ready to get things done, if the price and home criteria fit the bill.

It can be a good opportunity for buyers looking at houses for sale in ultra-competitive markets to insist on a home inspection, or for a seller to have wiggle room to refuse offers conditional upon financing.

Less Competition for Buyers

"The main benefit for the buyer is that you should have less competition buying in the winter," Moniz says. "Families that plan to move generally do so in the spring market. If someone is selling in the winter it might not be as planned, so in November and December, you can find some of the best deals."

It's true that winter real estate pricing generally shaves 4 – 9 per cent off what a home would be listed at in the spring, meaning that determined buyers can break into their desired market at a lower price point than later in the year.

Beat the January Rush

Call it the magic of New Year's resolutions: January often ushers in a mini buying boom, as buyers who held off during the holidays decide to return en masse. While it could be a good time to list your home, for buyers seeking a true deal, it's better to get ahead of this re-invigorated activity.

Talk to an Expert when Timing your Real Estate Move

Above all else, your real estate agent should be instrumental in timing your home listing or purchase. By leveraging local market data and trends, they should be able to provide valuable insight into whether a holiday transaction will be successful, and whether it's the best course of action for you. 

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