As we begin to start celebrating the festive season, people mistakenly believe that this is a relatively quiet time in the real estate sector.
However, we are seeing the opposite right now. Various factors are lending themselves to what’s already become a very busy month. This includes people wanting to secure an interest rate-hold that is about to expire, low inventory, and very high migration to Alberta. According to a report in the Edmonton Journal, “In the second quarter of this year, net migration in Alberta was 34,883. This is the highest level of net migration in Alberta, ever. At least since 1950, when we started tracking it.”
All of these forces are creating a perfect storm that is leading to bidding wars and a tight housing market.
As we look toward 2023, I believe many things will come to pass. We will see a rental market that is extremely competitive, which will lead to people opting to purchase, even if the product is apartment-style condos. The higher interest rates will become something people learn to accept, even though it means their purchasing power has been weakened.
And the net migration and demand for housing will keep the prices high and may, in fact, push them higher.
The cold season tends to be a time that people like to hunker down and hibernate, but it can be a great time to buy and sell. If you have a home you hope to sell, consider listing it on the market this winter. The fact there is very little competition means you'll have some leverage in negotiations, which includes not only the price but the possession date too.
If you are looking to buy, my advice would be not to wait. Even though competition is tight, I foresee it getting worse as the weather warms. Right now, you may have to pay a little more to get what you want, but the cost of waiting will likely mean more buyers to compete with, which will drive the prices even higher come spring.
If you do decide to buy in the winter, be sure to pay special attention to the landscaping. Patchy lawns, shoddy landscaping, and overall clutter can often be hidden by a blanket of beautiful snow. Be sure to ask for summer pictures of the yard so you truly know what you're buying.
If you're selling in the winter, it may help to provide summer pictures, especially if you're proud of your lawn. If you're not so proud, capitalize on the snow.
A few other things to remember about purchasing in the winter: It’s the coldest season, so remember to ask for a copy of the utility bills. High bills might mean the home is less energy efficient and may require additional insulation or new windows in the short-term future.
Another thing to remember is you'll learn less about your future neighbours when viewing a house in the winter, as most people are staying inside during this time. Search for clues that might lead to issues with your future neighbours, like sidewalks that need shovelling, a cluttered front porch, or debris along the side of the home.
Lastly, when it's cold out, windows are closed, which means you may not hear loud traffic like you would in the summer. Be mindful of this if noise pollution is important to you.
Until 2023, have a very happy holiday season and I wish you all a prosperous new year. All the best!
Natalie Berthiaume is an Airdrie-based Realtor. Her column appears regularly in the Airdrie City View’s House and Home section.