It’s been an interesting year for Toronto real estate. Between mortgage rule changes and a massive influx of new construction developments, it seems that this industry is always making headlines. And the end of the year has been no different, with new listings up 37.2% last month compared to November 2016. Winter is usually a slower time in real estate, but this year has shown that there are tons of sellers listing their properties on the market – so as a buyer, should you take advantage?
The thought of moving in the winter can seem like a daunting venture, but there are definitely benefits to making a purchase during snow season (if you’re willing to brave home-hunting in sub-zero temperatures). So bundle up, and let’s get started!
There’s less competition buying a home in the winter.
As mentioned above, new listings are up almost 40% compared to November of last year, however, sales were down by just over 13%. This shows that there’s more inventory than usual this year, with less competition. However, it’s important to note that historically there are usually fewer sales and listings in the winter months, which shows that buyers and sellers aren’t as active at this time. If you’re willing to be one of those who purchases in the winter, you may have less to choose from – but you’ll also have fewer buyers to compete with. If you shudder at the thought of partaking in a bidding war, buying a home in the winter when there’s less competition may be the less stressful route for you.
Sellers are more motivated.
The spring market is notorious for being a popular time to list, so most sellers will wait for the frost to disappear before putting their property on the market. With that being said, sellers who list in the winter are likely more motivated to sell – perhaps they’ve purchased a property that closes at the end of the season, and need a buyer for their current home. Therefore, your Realtor may be able to negotiate a better price for you if the seller is itching to get the property off their hands.
You can get a better idea of what living in a property is like.
Sure, that corner lot with the extra-wide driveway and beautifully manicured hedge definitely can step up the curb appeal. But what about when it comes to shovelling and salting that driveway regularly and covering the greenery every year? We all know that owning a house requires maintenance, but you may not realize what you’re in for when you visit a property during the warmer seasons. Therefore, home-hunting in the winter will likely provide a better picture of what it’s like during the higher-maintenance months. This applies to condos as well. A ten-minute walk the subway from your building may seem like a breeze in the fall, but are you prepared to handle it once it comes time to don the Blundstones and Canada Goose?
We know that us Canadians are built to be brave when it comes to winter, but it’s important to gain perspective on what living like a property is like year-round in order to determine if it’s right for you. If you’re STILL in love with a property even when it’s -20, you know it’s real.
So – you’re convinced! Buying a home in the winter is THE BEST. Not so fast. As unbiased real estate experts, there are also a few downsides to purchasing in this season.
Lack of available options.
Since the spring market is known as one of the two busiest times in real estate, many homeowners will hold off on listing their properties until then. Sure, there may be less competition when buying a home in the winter, but as we mentioned above, typically there are fewer listings too. Of course, there’s always a risk that when you purchase a home, something better could become available a week later regardless of the time of year, so this con depends on what your needs and wants for a property are.
Your home inspection may be less thorough.
Home inspections are an important part of the buying process and need to be completed properly in order to ensure you know what you’re getting into. Some elements are simply just harder to see when buying a home in the winter – for example, if the neighbourhood you’re buying in has just experienced a massive fresh snowfall, it’s going to be tough to know if the roof is in good condition. And since mold spores are dormant in the winter time, it can be difficult to detect the smell of a moldy basement or garage. Of course, any home inspector will do their absolute best to ensure they are thorough, but there will always be a risk of missing something.
The holiday season can create financial pressures.
Not only do the holidays come with social obligations, but there are gifts to buy, donations to make, and you’ll probably be taking more Ubers home than usual. In 2015, a study by Interac showed that Canadians spent a billion dollars on last-minute gifts alone! (And that only accounted for those using the service.) If you’re already feeling stretched during December, buying a home in the winter may not be the best time to make one of the biggest financial purchases of your life.
And then, there’s the whole moving part. Let’s face it – it’s going to be tough to carry that couch up an icy driveway, so while you may have been able to enlist the help of your friends and family in the summertime, you don’t want to be responsible for your father in law’s slip and fall. It’s best to leave winter moves to the pros, which of course, comes at a price.
So, what do you think? Do the rewards outweigh the risks when it comes to buying a home in the winter? We want to know your thoughts!