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How to Buy and Sell when the Market is Slow

We’re one week into January and I don’t know about you but getting back into real life ‘adulting’ mode is especially tough this week. As usual, the holidays are extremely busy but also relaxing and fun and social, and they make you almost forget that you work/go to school/dog-mom/write a blog in your normal everyday life. But here we are, jolted into January with freezing cold temperatures and that guilty feeling that you slacked off over Christmas… in more ways than one :)

As I struggled to think of a blog topic that would be the ‘perfect’ way to kick off my #2019 blog posts – something motivating, or inspiring, or insightful - I quickly realized that the only thing I could really talk about is what I’m currently experiencing – a DRY real estate market. Which isn’t exciting at all. Dave and I have been actively looking to buy for the last six months, and let me tell you, the options right now are bleak. Especially leading up to Christmas, there were maybe 1 or 2 listings per week that fit my criteria. And when you’re chomping at the bit to buy, this is just depressing. But it makes sense too – who wants to list their house right before the holidays? What if it sells quickly and you have to move right before Christmas? From a seller’s perspective, it’s also not a great time to list because most people are focusing on winding down for Christmas or spending all of their money on Christmas gifts, and may not be interested in looking to buy a house.

While a dry real estate market may not be exciting or motivating, it may in fact be opportunistic. So, as a buyer or a seller, what can you do to help yourself out when the market is slow?


Remain on top of the market

Yes – there isn’t much new inventory coming on. But this allows you to explore old listings as well. Sometimes when the market is crazy, I find I’m overwhelmed by all of the new listings each day, that I miss some of the older listings that are perhaps a better fit. Bidding on older listings (rather than new ones) also allows you more wiggle room with the price as the buyer should be more motivated to sell given it’s been sitting for a while. So really take the time to explore all listings in your desired area. An old gem may take you by surprise.

Start exploring private sales on Kijiji, Property Guys, Facebook Marketplace, etc.

When the market is hot with new listings popping up, you might not have time to check for private deals on sites like Kijiji, Property Guys, Used Victoria, etc. And while sourcing out a private deal may not be your cup of tea just yet, it can really pay off if you find the right one. Think – less exposure of the listing, much less buying competition, and usually a lower price point because the seller is saving on realtor fees. If there isn’t much on Viewpoint or MLS, look elsewhere and see if you can source out a winner.

Spend time networking

If there isn’t much inventory right now, take this extra time you’d usually spend scouring listings and put it towards networking instead. Reach out to different realtors, mortgage brokers, and other real estate professionals giving them your home-buying criteria to establish a clear picture of what you’re looking for. Doing this will help you to build a strong team going into the spring market. When things get hectic, those people will already know exactly what you are looking for, remember that you’re motivated to buy, and look to call YOU when the perfect listing pops up.


Do small upgrades

Since it may be the case that your house sits on the market longer than usual, you can take this extra time to complete those small upgrades you’ve been putting off. Fix that piece of baseboard trim, paint that bedroom, or pull out that ugly shag carpet you’ve been meaning to do forever. As an example, our neighbours were relocated for work and given about a week to list their property. They had a long list of easy upgrades they had been putting off for years, and when they were given that one week before listing, they both had to take time off of work to finish their list of upgrades in that week! Their house sold 2 days later, and they had moved by the end of that week. Talk about a stressful couple of weeks for them! In my opinion, if you know you have winter downtime, take advantage of it before the market starts to heat up.

Make your listing stand out

While there are definitely less people looking to buy, there are also less people trying to sell, which means less competition for you. This is your opportunity to make your listing stand out by taking some really nice photos (or having you realtor take nice photos!). Winter listings tend not to be as visually appealing as summer or fall listings since you can’t see the yard or the property as well, so if you have old photos of your house in the fall when the leaves are turning, or photos of your flower and vegetable garden, showcase these! Nothing stands out more in a docket of winter property listings than a garden in full bloom or mature trees with fall-coloured leaves.

Well, that was a short and sweet post to start off the New Year! Like everything, I’ve got to ease myself back into writing too :)

Next week we’ve got one of my favourite bad-ass lady investor friends who is going to detail her favourite type of real estate investing! Her post is so compelling she may have even convinced me to try her style of flipping…. Stay tuned!

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