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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

No Canadian Housing Season

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 01 February 2000 00:00

There's no more "housing season." Last year, housing starts in Canada ranged from a low of about 142,000 in February to a peak of 155,000 in November. There was no quiet season for home builders.

In Canada, real estate traditionally followed a very predictable buying pattern. Over the winter, almost nothing happened, especially in rural areas. (Who could buy a property that is buried in snow?) Then, buyers would emerge with the first signs of spring and, economy permitting, an energetic spring market would stretch from about March to May. Sellers wanted their home sold and their next property bought before the kids were out of school so summer doldrums hit urban centres. Once summer weather hit, recreational areas came into their own. If winter didn't arrive too early, there would be a small fall market and then, winter would settle in again.

Gradually, that pattern has changed. Now, when we have years of almost continuous housing activity like 1999, it is not news anymore. Yet, many buyers and sellers are still working on the traditional Canadian buying pattern and missing out on some great "out of season" opportunities.

If you are buying a new home, you'll be selecting a house or condominium on paper or off a computer screen whether its January or June. Wintery weather may mean less traffic through the developer's trailer or sales showroom and more attention paid to you. You may even find a few buying incentives thrown in. Wait until the spring market and you may pay more and feeling very pressured in the process.

Canadian resale markets offer buyers and sellers more choice, too. Every urban area has preferred neighbourhoods where buyers tell their Realtor, "If anything ever comes up..." If you live in a choice location, you may not need to wait until Spring.

As buyers get better at using buyer agents, they may prefer shopping out of season. Buyers work with their Realtor to pinpoint the type of property they want and the locations they prefer. If current listings are not suitable, the buyer agent can canvass likely sellers to locate the ideal property for their buyer client. Offer a seller a reasonable price and save them the headaches and expense of preparing their home for sale and you may have a deal that makes both of you happy. Many sellers may be attracted by the prospect of going, cash in hand, to negotiate a great deal on their next home.

Eventually, homes may be permanently "for sale" with all their details posted on the Internet ready for interested buyers. Electronic negotiations would ensure a fair deal on both sides. Too far in the future? Many communities are already electronically catalogued. Electronic title transfer is commonplace. The first online new home sales have already happened.

In the meantime, find out about the unique market opportunities in your area. Don't wait for Spring.

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