Beat the competition with an early sale

Welcome to 2014. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.

Old Man Winter has arrived in fine fashion. The long-term forecast for this winter is predicted to be somewhat colder and snowier than last year, but it was still going to be a mild winter. Well, I guess we’ll have to see what Mother Nature has in store for us, since weather prediction, like real estate prognostication, is a variable art form at best.

If we do receive a good, old-fashioned Canadian winter, and you’re planning on getting the jump on the competition (a good idea!) by putting your Beach house on the market in the first couple of months of this year, there are a few things you’ll want to consider, especially if there’s an accumulation of the fluffy white stuff along with cold temperatures.

There are obvious reasons why spring is traditionally a strong season to sell. Starting near the end of March, the snow and ice – if there was any – is usually gone, and the sunshine and warmer temperatures put a jump in everyone’s step. With that, a renewed optimism permeates the Beach market.

April and May often see the biggest jump in unit sales due to an increasing inventory of listings, sought out by warm weather spring buyers. This combination over the last five years, and arguably the last decade, has helped propel average sale prices to new highs in the spring. And it’s this very focus on the spring market that can create the right formula for a successful sale in the early winter market.

Getting your property on the market early can make good sense. There’s an audience of buyers left over from the past year who didn’t see what they liked, or lost out on a favoured property. And if they started shopping last spring, they may be a little anxious about waiting until the next spring market. If your property won’t rival listings that the spring brings forward, less competition now means more competition from buyers.

The early Beach market gets underway around mid-January, when the last vestiges of the holidays are packed away, and the normal routine for many has returned.

Hopefully you used the holidays to get ready for an impending sale by de-cluttering and tidying your premises and thinning out those closets. If you knew that you were going to try to sell in the new year, you probably had a chance in the fall to get those bigger projects completed. But if you didn’t, and you need to, your contractor or handyman might just relish the opportunity to work indoors.

Outdoor projects will be weather-dependent, of course, so you may need to go with what you have. If what you have is going to reduce the sale price and your timing isn’t essential, you may want to re-evaluate your timing.

On the other hand, if there’s cold weather and snow cover, that rough-looking backyard or older roof may be a little less obvious. If you have a roof problem, that’s one of those items that could be caught on a home inspection. It’s a good idea to give your agent any roofing receipts you might have if it’s up to snuff. Buyers should note too that most home inspectors won’t venture onto the roof if there’s snow or a chance of ice.

If you’re selling and we do have snow, obviously you’ll need to keep your paths clear and ice-free. This is also a great chance to showcase your parking facilities, especially if you have a private drive for multiple vehicles. Take the extra time and energy to move all the snow so there’s as much parking as possible. If your property relies on street parking, it may be a good idea to remove the mounds of snow blocking on-street spots in your immediate vicinity.

Other quick tips for selling in the early new year include keeping your home’s interior and exterior effectively lighted to offset early nightfalls. But don’t leave your Christmas lights up, even if you think they make the house look beautiful.

Keep a rotation of dry mats for shoes and boots, keeping the floors surrounding them dry. You’ll want your potential buyers to be able to remove their shoes without stepping in a puddle. Also, keep your own shoes, boots and winter gear away from the front entrance.

Lastly, don’t leave candles burning for ambience, as they could get accidently knocked over. Be careful too with burning artificial logs in your fireplace. It can be a great feature, but some artificial logs throw off a chemical smell that may bother people. A real wood fire is a nice touch, but only if you’re sure the chimney draws well. You don’t need a roaring multiple log fire – you’ll get the same effect with a safer, smaller fire. Gas fireplaces are great too, but if a child touches the glass and burns their hand, a potential good showing could be threatened.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year. Take care!


Thomas Neal is a respected Beach real estate agent –

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