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Now that the holidays are over, it is time to think ahead to the upcoming months. Many people are already planning on buying or selling a house in the new year. But while most realty prospects are looking ahead to the warmer, spring season to start their home shopping, winter should not be excluded from their house hunting plans.

snow on house

Like most industries, the real estate market goes through its peaks and lulls throughout the year. Spring and summer are unquestionably the busiest times. The majority of homeowners start listing their houses after the snow melts while cabin fevered shoppers are eager to get out and start looking for their next real estate investment. The best buy times are not always during the peak seasons. In fact, winter is a great, often overlooked time of year to think about buying or selling a house.

For those seriously considering buying or selling property, there are many benefits to looking for your home during the winter months including:

Less Competition

cart racing

There are far less competition right now, increasing your chances of getting the home you really want.  Fewer homeowners are selling a house during the cold time of year and equally fewer people are actively looking to buy a home. This is great for both buyers and sellers. Sellers do not have work as hard to make their home stand out among the other listings. Sellers have a better chance of getting their dream home without the worry of being outbid or overspending in a bidding war.

Realtors Work Harder for Their Clients

for sale sign

Because the market typically slows during the cold time of year, real estate agents have a lot more time to spend with each client. Regardless whether their clients are buying or selling a house In the winter, your agent will work much harder to get you what you want. Realtors want the property sale just as much as the client so they will go the extra mile to see that your home is sold. Agents also put more effort into finding the right home for the eager buyer.

Competitive Pricing

value and price

Right now it is a buyers market. Homes do not sell as quickly during the slow, colder season, so house hunters have a lot more negotiating power. They can offer a lower sold house price that meets their budget.  With fewer listings and clients actively looking, sellers must offer a fair and competitive price if they want to sell their home.

Serious Buyers and Sellers

moving day

Summer is usually viewed as the best time to buy or sell a house because there are a lot more people on the market. However, despite the volume, many are window shoppers; they are more curious to see what is available and less interested in actually bidding on a property. Equally, there are plenty of homeowners that like test the waters to see if they can get a good offer on their property. During the winter season, both buyers and sellers are more serious in their intent.  Buyers list their property because they genuinely want or have to sell their home. Sellers want to buy home and look at listings with the intent of putting a bid on the property if it meets their needs.

Less Yard Work

digging in dirt

During the growing season, homeowners must spend a considerable amount of time and money tending to the landscape and exterior of their homes to make them look as attractive as possible for potential buyers. However, at this time of year, the blanket of snow hides all the ground underneath so property owners have far less outdoor work to worry about.

Rising Interest Rates

raising interest rate

The Bank of Canada(BoC) announced last year that they would be steadily raising interest rates to bring them to a more neutral range over the next couple of years. During the last 15 months, the rates have increased five consecutive times and the BoC has stated that they will continue to climb in the foreseeable future.  It is expected that the rates will increase anywhere between 2.50% to 3.50%.  While these numbers might not sound high, when it comes to buying real estate, the higher rates can easily add hundreds, even thousands of dollars more to your home’s price. For already indebted homeowners, these rate hikes will affect make it more difficult to buy a home and pay a mortgage.

The rising interest rates will also have an effect on sold house prices. Some sellers could lose money on their investment well they sell their house. Knowing that the rates are only going to increase, now is the best time to buy a house. Securing a mortgage will only get harder as we head into the busier real estate season.

Regulations are Tightening

tight regulations

To protect debt riddled Canadians from overspending on their real estate, provincial and federal government bodies have developed legislation to protect candidates when buying or selling property. These polices have made it more difficult for some home shoppers to buy their first home.  Buyers must now have more of a down payment saved before they can apply for a mortgage. Cautious banking institutes are also taking more precautions and establishing stricter guidelines for approving home loans. It is becoming more difficult for new home buyers to save enough money and get a mortgage. As the year progresses, it will become even more difficult to purchase property, especially for first time buyers.  Listing prices are often higher during the peak season and, with more people looking, there is less room to negotiate. Many house shoppers will not have the savings to put down on their dream home when the market is at its busiest.

Buying or selling a house is never an easy, or quick process. Because it is one the biggest investments you will ever make, lot of planning, preparation, time, and saving must go into your venture. In the next few months, there will be a lot of for sale signs popping up as the industry gets ready for their busy spring and summer seasons. But for serious real estate investors, winter is one of the best buy times that is often overlooked. This slower, colder season offers greater opportunities to get the house you want at a price you can afford.