Most homeowners know that some months are better than others in terms of attracting the most potential buyers, and January consistently ranks as one of the worst. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, there were only 24,870 homes sold in Canada in January 2016, compared to 60,961 in May, the busiest month of the year. (In fact, going back to 1980, the slowest months of the year have consistently been December and January.)
But sometimes something forces your hand – say, a job that requires you to relocate – and you have to list your house in what’s perceived to be less than ideal timing.
“Everything drops a bit. There’s less inventory, but there’s also less competition,” says Pro Sarbadhikari, a broker with Sutton Group in Toronto. “There are still bidding wars, just less people putting offers in.”
On the upside, “Your realtor will have all the time in the world to market your property,” says Chris Winney, a Royal LePage broker in the Land O’ Lakes region, a rural and cottaging area about an hour north of Kingston, Ont.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re selling your home in January.
Preparation is Key
“Someone who’s been forced to sell has to be willing to invest some time and effort into the listing,” says Winney. She recommends de-cluttering as much as possible and, if it’s in the budget, hiring a professional stager. Repainting a few key rooms can also liven up a dated-looking home.
One of the biggest potential issues to contend with is the weather: snow in particular. You’ll want to make sure the walkway and stairs leading to your front door are clear of snow and ice. Once inside, have signs prominently displayed asking visitors to remove their shoes or boots, and have mats for them to put them on. Having an empty coat rack in the doorway can also help: people will spend more time looking if they’re not feeling overheated from walking around in a heavy parka.
If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure you adjust it so that your home is warm during visits. Better still: light a fire.
“The ‘fireplace effect’ is amazing,” says Winney. “In November I showed two cottage properties. One was empty and cold. In the other one the fire was blazing and it was warm and cozy. That was the one they put an offer on.”
Related Read: How to Host a Winter Open House
You should also have plenty of pictures of your yard in the warmer months, particularly if you have a nice garden, patio area, or a pool. Your agent can post the images with the listing, and you can also have an album out for potential buyers to browse through.
Buyers will still want to see the yard so, if you have a dog make sure you’re dutiful in collecting their doody, and bury any yellow snow.
Hold Off on Holidays
While New Year’s Day tends to mark the end of the holiday period for many, you’ll want to pay attention to other observances if there’s a particular ethnic group that’s common in your area.
In 2017, Eastern Orthodox Christmas falls on Saturday, January 7, and New Year’s Day is the following Saturday, making either weekend a bad choice for open houses if you’re trying to attract Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, and adherents from other Eastern European countries.
Also keep in mind that Chinese New Year falls on January 28, 2017, so Chinese buyers are likely to be preoccupied with family gatherings and feasts.
The Cottage Conundrum
Unlike trying to sell your condo or townhouse in Toronto, when it comes to cottage properties, Winney says the market pretty much shuts down from November through early March. After all, many three-season and island properties are all but inaccessible in the middle of winter. But that’s not to say cottages don’t sell over the winter at all. It’s just more likely that you’ll sell to someone who’s visited the property earlier in the year and has finally made the decision to make an offer.
Are you looking to sell your home in January? We can help – connect with a Zoocasa agent today!