While the credo of professional real estate would suggest “there is never a bad time to list a house/property”, there are certainly a number of issues to be considered in marketing a property in the Ottawa winter. This is particularly true in 2014/15’s more challenging market environment. Here are a few items to consider:
The case for listing in the winter:
Most years, the assumption has been that while there are fewer buyers in the market there are also fewer sellers. With listing inventory levels running at historical highs, this will not be the case for this winter. There is significant competition for both residential properties and condos from both the resale and new construction markets.
Get a “jump” on the spring market?
There is also a case to be made that while buyers may not be “buying” (in large numbers), they have already started shopping and doing their online research in advance of the season. There is some validity in this position; particularly as we get to mid-February when “cabin fevered” Ottawans are looking ahead to spring. Open Houses also see a pickup in activity, especially when we get a warm(er) and sunny day.
It is equally as likely that a REALTOR® may be trying to “get a jump” on the spring market by securing a listing but that is another discussion.
Should I continue to list it over the winter?
Those who have had their property already listed during 2014 often feel they “may miss a buyer” by taking their property off the market. This may be true but it is more likely that a property which has already been listed for any significant period of time (60 days or more) may have some other issues inhibiting the sale and continuing the listing over the winter is not likely to produce a better result.
Continuing to list a property for an extended period can make the listing become “stale” and buyers tend to wonder; “what’s wrong with it? Or “why hasn’t someone else bought it already?
Remember that online buyers have the attention span of a “gnat” and if they have not been interested at first glance; then the likelihood of their coming back to revisit a property deemed not to have measured up the first time is slim. So the seller is left to wait for only those new buyers who enter the market.
Sales are definitely slower:
November through February is the slowest sales period of the year and while sales don’t cease completely, they do drop off to only 33% to 66% of average sales during the other 8 months. This is especially true of December and January. (see monthly unit sales at www.oasisrealtyottawa.com a few posts below)
Competitive disadvantage with those listing later:
By having one’s property exposed to the market earlier, those in the market get to have a look at the property and compare it to determine their potential interest. However, equally true is that sellers who plan to list later on (and their REALTOR®) have a chance to plan their pricing and marketing strategy by knowing what the competition is. (kind of liking seeing a competitors' poker hand) Subsequent listings will do their best to take advantage of this knowledge and present a more attractive marketing package for buyers. This is why we see many new listings sell in the first week or two, as these sellers have adjusted and improved their offering compared to the existing already listed competition.
Visiting properties in winter can be awkward/ difficult and many do not want to move in the depths of winter.
Many buyers also have a property to sell and therefore face the same slower market in trying to get a deal done on their own property.
Curb appeal and outdoor features suffer:
When we are mired in our 90 to 120 days of Ottawa snowbanks and deep freeze, most homes will not show their best, particularly those with key outdoor features such as decks, patios, pools, gardens, interlock, trees and privacy.
Also buyers are unable to as carefully inspect roofing, foundations, decks, fencing, sheds, air conditioning, swimming pools or other outdoor features and amenities.
Some negative features may stand out:
Properties with older or poorly designed heating systems may expose themselves in winter and focus buyer attention on cost of replacement and utility costs.
Older windows may emit drafts or show moisture/icing
Cool floors, bedrooms or basements may be highlighted
low light conditions may make some homes seem “very dark” or devoid of natural light which can be a big issue for buyers.
Street parking, snowbanks, driveways and walks and their maintenance needs in winter are all highlighted. We see properties with large icicles hanging from the roof and eaves in winter, pointing to another inspection issue.
Homes that do not have eavestroughing may have glaciers forming on walks and driveways, depending on their exposure.
Homes or condos without indoor parking may be less of interest to buyers on a cold, snowy and windy day.
In the interest of full disclosure, we point out that we travel regularly in winter which inhibits our ability to consider new listings, if these are immediate. This is also true of many in our profession who take vacation, training or have corporate or other industry events during this quieter business time of the year.
We are certainly available to discuss listing requirements and plans for 2015 at any time and look forward to hearing from you!* Or by all means contact another REALTOR® to help assess the right time for marketing your property.
* not intended to solicit those with existing representation agreements
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
experienced professional real estate services!