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Should You Wait Until Spring to Sell Your Home? How the Pandemic is Affecting the Winter Markets

January 26, 2021

In the dullness of post-holiday winter, Canadian homeowners anxious to sell a property often start wondering if they should list now or wait until spring. The thinking tends to be that a winter sale could mean long weeks spent waiting for an interested buyer, lowball offers, and settling for a disappointing price. Of course, that’s a pretty grim outlook, and there are a number of reasons why a winter sale can work to your favour. But this winter, with strong selling conditions in many of the country’s major markets, the question isn’t should you wait until spring to sell your home, but rather, why wait?

More buyers, more sales

Since the first pandemic lockdowns disrupted the spring market and shook up our notions of “home,” markets across the country have seen an explosion of demand as droves of buyers go in search of more space, aided by historically low borrowing rates. Though sales did fall back somewhat from the dizzying heights seen earlier in the summer – a typical trend for the time of year while people focus on the holidays – national sales in December 2020 were up a stunning 47.2% compared to December 2019, setting a new record for the month by a margin of 12,000 transactions.1 The numbers don’t lie: demand is strong and homes are selling in many parts of the country.

Illustration of identical white houses, one being illuminated

High demand meets low supply

What’s really putting sellers at an advantage this winter is that inventory levels in most major markets are hitting all-time lows, leaving buyers to vie for a limited number of homes. After real estate activity effectively stalled out last March, new listings didn’t regain momentum as quickly as sales did, likely because sellers in the early days of the pandemic felt more at risk than buyers (read about COVID-19 safety tips for sellers). As a result, strong sales have been depleting inventory levels across the country – the national average came in at just 2.1 months’ supply at the end of December2bringing more balance to the buyer’s markets in Alberta and creating some of the tightest markets ever seen in Ontario and Manitoba. Sales are also happening faster than we’d expect for this time of year: in Alberta, our brokerage is seeing a high number of offers coming in ahead of the typically busy spring market, and in Ontario, we’re seeing many sellers accepting strong offers within a few days of listing.

More bang for your buck

According to the law of supply and demand, prices under these conditions should go up – and they have. In December, the national average price for a home was 17.1% above what it was a year ago,3 and the Purplebricks team has processed many deals with offers for over asking price and multiple offers (cue Pavlovian salivation!). As buyers try to outbid each other to get a piece of the pie, sellers have a firm upper hand.  

With roaring demand, meager supply, and robust prices in many of Canada’s real estate markets, conditions don’t get much better than this for sellers. And, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there’s no telling what the future could bring. While each homeowner has their own unique set of circumstances to consider, many sellers are choosing to get while the gettin’s good this winter.

Those who choose to sell with Purplebricks stand to gain even more from their winter sales. Because we charge a low fixed fee, your commission savings increase when home prices are high. And you’ll never have to compromise on service: your local REALTOR® will ensure that your home is priced right while keeping your family’s safety a top priority. We’ve got your buying needs covered, too: when you purchase a home with one of our REALTORS®, we’ll give you $2,000 in cash back!* That’s the future of real estate. Call 1-855-999-9740 to learn more.