Why it is Fine - Even Good - to Sell Your Home in Winter

(November 24, 2016 )

There are many myths and misconceptions about listing your property for sale during the winter months.

“I’m going to wait until the spring to sell my condo because the patio shows so much better then, with all the flowers in bloom.”

“I’m going to wait until the spring market to list my house. My bank told me spring is the busiest time for mortgage applications.”

“I’m going to list in the spring because that is when most people are shopping for property.”

As a REALTOR®, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard comments like these. Out of all the misconceptions about selling, one of the most common is that spring is the best time to sell (and by extension, winter is the worst).

In a buyers’ market, when supply is high and demand is low, there may be some benefit to listing your place at the time of year when it shows best. But in a strong sellers’ market where demand continues to vastly outweigh supply, the weather is simply not affecting sale price by any significant amount.

Let’s look at the stats first, and then I’ll share a couple of examples from my personal experience that show how waiting until the spring to list can have unintended consequences.

From November 2014 to November 2015, active listings in Greater Vancouver were down 35 per cent, while sales were up 40.1 per cent and the benchmark sale price increased by 17.8 per cent to $752,500 for all property types. Detached home prices have risen the most in that time, by 22.6 per cent to $1,226,300.

For example, taking a look at the East Vancouver neighborhood, in March 2015, there were 380 detached homes on the market, which sold for an average price of $1,137,500. In November 2015, there were 338 listings, which sold for an average price of $1,310,000.

So demand is stronger, inventory is lower and prices are significantly higher than last winter – and even since this spring. The market is going up, and the seasons are not having a measurable impact on that direction.

Here’s a story to illustrate one way waiting until spring can have unintended consequences. Last year, I listed a condo in the Cambie area for sellers with a new baby who had outgrown their place. I met with them in January 2014 and they insisted they wanted to wait until the spring to go to market. So we waited until the spring, when their tree-lined street did indeed look even prettier.

The week we went on the market, though, two other units in their building did as well. With three units for sale in the same low-rise building, many potential buyers wondered what was wrong with the building. Nothing at all, of course; everyone had just waited until the same time to list, which created the wrong perception. There was more supply and more choice for the buyers, making it harder for all the sellers involved to get a good price.

In June of this year, I sold a house in East Vancouver that received six offers and sold for a healthy nine per cent over the asking price. In November, I listed a similar property on the same street, on the same size of lot and with the same zoning as the one that sold in June. This time, I received 20 offers for the house, and it sold it for 19 per cent over asking.

Demand is demand, and it doesn’t go away with the leaves in autumn. Serious buyers are always looking. They don’t take a break just because it’s winter.

When you list your home for sale in November or December, lower inventory can actually provide your home with more exposure and less competition. And that might be just what you need to add a little more cheer to your holiday season.

Happy holidays – and happy home selling, everyone!

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