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The bidding wars of last spring have disappeared because buyers are facing fewer rivals. FOR ROB REAL ESTATE SERIES running November The house at 150 Langley Avenue, in Toronto's Riverdale neighbourhood, has an open house on October 14, 2012. JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

JENNIFER ROBERTS/The Globe and Mail

'The fall market is a weekly market," says Thomas Neal of Royal LePage Estate Realty. "Some weeks it goes and some weeks it doesn't."

It's also a market that's winding down in the dwindling days of November. Few new listings will arrive on the market in December. Those sellers who do list now have likely already purchased another property.

"If you don't have to sell I think you're going to wait until the spring," says Mr. Neal, who concentrates his business in the Beaches neighbourhood.

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As for those sellers whose condos and houses are already lingering on the market, Mr. Neal predicts many of those people will be taking down the "for sale" sign by Christmas.

"People who don't sell in December will be back out on the market in February," he says.

But as much anxiety as the current torpor is causing sellers, the market shift creates some interesting opportunities for buyers, Mr. Neal adds.

Sellers are worried and buyers are under no pressure to buy.

"It's a totally different market than a year ago."

Mr. Neal says buyers have more bargaining clout now. Meanwhile, asking prices are staying flat or – in some cases – drifting lower.

"There is an adjustment going on," says Mr. Neal. "Prices aren't dropping but they're coming off of the levels that were inflated to begin with."

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What he means is that the hyper-active bidding wars of last spring have evaporated. Buyers are facing fewer rivals and therefore they are not driving up selling prices by crazy amounts.

The change in the broader housing market is part of a trickle-down effect from all of the condo building, Mr. Neal explains.

While people are still coveting single-family houses, those move-up buyers who already own a condo are more hesitant to purchase a house because they don't know how long it will take to sell the condo. That's a change from the dynamic of the last eight years or so when condo owners would often list the unit first, reap more than they expected in a bidding contest, and then in turn funnel that money into winning the competition for a house.

"Now they're not buying first; they're selling first," says Mr. Neal. With that shift, he explains, the number of buyers out there is cut roughly in half.

For those who do plan to list soon, Mr. Neal recommends that they listen to their agent's advice about setting a realistic price. If homeowners interview a few agents and one suggests a significantly higher asking price than the others, Mr. Neal cautions that the agent should be able to justify that price.

Otherwise, he says, the most sanguine agent may just be trying to win the listing by telling homeowners what they want to hear.

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Tell us what you think: Will Toronto's real estate market rebound in the spring or is a longer correction underway?

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