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Real estate: In a slow season, opportunity knocks Add to ...

Tradition has it that Toronto’s fall real estate market succumbs to the first dusting of snow.

Last week, agents were taking fewer calls for new listings. The squalls that hit the Greater Toronto Area on the weekend pretty much finished off the 2013 market.

People who call agents for evaluations now will most likely be advised to hold off listing until February if they can.

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For buyers, though, the final few weeks of the year can offer a window of opportunity.

Sellers are often more receptive to hashing out a deal when they are facing the prospect of relisting in 2014.

So, properties that have been sitting for a while will see a sudden flurry of action in December.

Economists have been warning throughout the fall that this year’s holiday slowdown may be more severe than most.

If they’re right, that could

give the remaining buyers an even better chance to snag a bargain because there will be fewer of them.

At Bank of Nova Scotia, economist Derek Holt says the market began losing steam in October after a very busy September and this trend is in keeping with his view that many buyers moved up their purchases during the spring and summer at the expense of future months.

People with 90- to 120-day mortgage commitments exercised their option to purchase rather than miss out on a juicy rate, he figures.

Mr. Holt believes the activity in the spring and summer was a temporary interruption along a correcting sales path.

Still, economists won’t know until next spring – when sales traditionally take off again – how much merit the brought-forward argument holds, he says.

At Royal Bank of Canada, senior economist Robert Hogue notes that listings contracted enough during the fall to put markets back into balanced territory.

He figures that by the time the year wraps up, numbers for the Canadian real estate market in 2013 won’t look a whole lot different from 2012.

With so much uncertainty about the coming months, the typical holiday frenzy, and all of those buyers who are already making mortgage payments, those who haven’t bought yet might want to devote some extra effort to the hunt.

Follow on Twitter: @CarolynIreland

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