Buying and selling a home can be challenging at the best of times.
However, Victoria Real Estate Board past-president Tim Ayres said despite the time being a common period for vacations, shopping, family gatherings and a traditionally quieter real estate market, the holidays aren’t necessarily a bad time to buy, or to sell.
“If you look at our pricing curve, prices peak in the spring in any year. But at the same time, this year has been unusual. With dwindling supply there’s more buyers than sellers,” he said. “Supply is shrinking month over month (with) less houses in September to November this year than last year … There is definitely seasonality to pricing, but this year with it being busier than (usual), we will see what will happen.”
From approximately the middle of December on the market is traditionally quieter, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for many real estate agents. It can offer an opportunity for family time after an extremely busy year.
“You can take a look at your business and plan for next year … hit the ground running with a new plan and new energy (after) having some (time off),” he said. “With it being so busy, a lot of Realtors are looking for a bit of down time.”
From a homeowner’s perspective, he said, the time to sell is the time to sell. If a buyer needs a home during off-peak months, there are a number of factors to consider to help maximize potential opportunities on either side of the housing market.
“If you look at a new job starting Jan. 1, you will have to act pretty quickly on any house you are going to see,” he said. “You just have to be ready to buy and make sure the finances are taken care of, because you’re not going to have a second chance, in most cases.”
On the selling front, Ayres said preparation and flexibility are key. Opening up to the possibility of allowing potential buyers to come through on short notice, perhaps even when you have company over or are planning an event, can maximize selling potential.
“Just be prepared … (And) if you are going away on Christmas, maybe it’s not a bad time so it can be shown anytime for sellers,” he said. “And don’t overdo it with the Christmas decorations. Make it uncluttered and clean (and) be prepared for a few inconveniences on the holidays.”
Despite the differences, there are opportunities during the traditionally slower season leading up to the busier February and March months.
Ayres’ advice for those who are ready to list? Get out early and beat the rush, especially in a strong market where there isn’t a bad time to list in the next six to eight months.
“The right time to sell or buy is when it is right for you. If you have time to look in December, you should. Why wait till spring when every other buyer is out there?” he asked. “If it’s time to sell and you want to get a head start, why not put it on (the market in) December and see what happens? You never know how the market is going to take your house until you are on the market.”
Q: How can I keep my home safe while I’m away for the holidays?
If you are planning time away this month, one way to keep yourself and your home safer is to keep your travel plans offline.
While the first instinct might be to tell your friends on Facebook that you are away, or to post photos of yourself lounging on the beach, doing so after you’re back might be the best course of action. If that is too much, consider keeping timelines on when you plan to leave or come back private.
This information can be a goldmine for a burglar looking for a mark over the holidays. Hide Christmas gifts from plain sight. Often the Christmas tree and the gifts can easily be seen through the biggest window of the house. Consider storing presents elsewhere and bringing them out only when you are home or the day you plan to open them.
Also keep curtains drawn while you are away, this can help keep gifts out of sight and out of mind for potential thieves, especially in a time and age when mobile devises including cell phones, iPad’s and electronics are such a big part of the Christmas budget.
Consider having a neighbourhood buddy keep an eye on your home. This can provide a great level of extra security while you are away. Your buddy can help pick up any mail piling up outside the door, keep snow shovelled so it looks like people are home, is a great deterrent to potential burglary.
Returning the favour can help keep you and your neighbourhood safer, not just during the holidays but all year round.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE NOV. 30/15 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 547 / 465 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL,NOVEMBER 2014
» 716 / 682 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, NOVEMBER 2014
» 2,948 / 3,631 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, NOVEMBER 2014