In the real estate market, how does winter compare to other seasons?
Winter is still a very viable time of year for real estate, in general. Sales happen every day, regardless of holidays, weekends, seasons. Typically, home sellers tend to shy away from winter because they are afraid they won't find buyers, but over 18,000 buyers purchased in my trading area from Jan to March in 2014. So, there are some serious buyers out there, some would say they are very serious to be house shopping in the bitter cold. As a matter of fact, inventory levels are low at this time of year, so there is less competition on the market. Couple that with serious buyers and you have an excellent selling scenario.
Don't forget, people need to move for many reasons: babies, deaths, job changes (good and bad, money related, location related) so every day is a good day to list your home for sale. And when it comes to condos, in my experience, they don't follow any seasonal pattern. They are less susceptible to that.
What to consider before buying or selling a property in winter…
With less competition on the market, sellers may actually find themselves getting prices that they were not able to get in the fall. Sometimes this time of year the market is very brisk and the competition is sleeping, so get on it!
If you are listing your home…
Keep in mind that the exterior is still very important to prospective buyers so you need to make the house and yard accessible, well lit, safe, and try to add a little touch of warmth through urns and seasonal greenery or ornamental arrangements.
Inside, same thing. Make it comfy, warm at all times (change the settings on the programmable thermostat), and add some tasteful but seasonal décor elements, like winter throws and accent pillows, blooming winter plants and lots of lamps set on timers to go on early, before dusk.
Also make available any pool reports you have from the company that closed it. Wash your furnace, they will definitely be looking at it! It's also a great idea to display photos of your home in the spring and summer. Show buyers what your yard and garden look like in the summer… it will help them see the full potential of your home. And don't let the dog “go” in your yard, yellow snow is gross!
For those on the hunt…
As buyers, protect yourselves with conditions on the swimming pool and air conditioning units that give you time in the warm months to make sure they work properly. Your realtor will know how to do this. Get copies of utility bills for winter and summer months. Make sure to go back for a visit in daylight hours. Don't be afraid to go into the back yard, garage and other out buildings. Bring a flashlight with you when you go on showings, and wear socks J
And talk to the neighbours to find out what they have to say.