The owners of a house near Queen and Dovercourt in Toronto considered it a nice Christmas present when they struck a deal to sell the property on Dec. 25.
The offer definitely caused a stir when it arrived on Dec. 24.
"We can't believe we're dealing with this over Christmas but let's get it done," the sellers told agent Lowrey Cain of Sage Real Estate Ltd.
"They wanted it over with," says Mr. Cain.
The agent adjusted his plans a little and split his time between Toronto and Collingwood as he handled the negotiation. There wasn't a lot of haggling about the price but there were a few conditions to navigate, Mr. Cain says. He received a call saying that the buyers had signed off on the final waiver on the morning of Dec. 25.
He didn't hear back from the relieved sellers until about four in the afternoon.
"They were ecstatic," says Mr. Cain.
He suspects the buyers figured they would get a better deal by making an offer on Dec. 24 and, in his opinion, they got one.
The house, which is divided into four units, had an asking price of $889,000 and sold for $829,000, or 93 per cent of asking. It had been on the market for 83 days.
Mr. Cain estimates that 3 or 4 per cent of the 7-per-cent discount can be attributed to the timing.
"I think the holiday definitely played a role," says Mr. Cain.
He adds that it's a tactic he recommends for his own clients. Buyers who don't want to compete for a house should take a look at the sleepers that haven't sold in the week before Christmas and strive for a better deal.
Judging by the flurry of deals between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27, lots of buyers employ the gambit.
Mr. Cain says the property he sold had less competition because some sellers pull their listings off the market a week or two before Christmas. Buyers also become busy.
"Not a lot of people were letting people into their houses and not a lot of people were looking."
Real estate agent Myriam Benchitrit of Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd. says the buyers of a semi-detached house near Trinity Bellwoods Park certainly got a better deal by signing on Dec. 20.
The house, which was listed for $675,000, sold for $661,500 after nine days on the market.
But the property had previously been listed in late October with an asking price of $689,000. That was right around the time buyers and sellers were realizing that the market had cooled considerably.
"I should have sold it in five minutes," says Ms. Benchitrit of the house, which had undergone a renovation under the auspices of an HGTV home renovation television program.
Ms. Benchitrit says she showed the house to hordes of prospective buyers.
The problem was, many of them already owned condos that they hadn't been able to sell.
"It was a very strange market," she says of the late fall.
Earlier in 2012 it would have sold for $710,000 with 12 to 15 offers, she figures.
"The market changed on us drastically," she says.
Ms. Benchitrit says many potential buyers were fishing for a good deal. Some wanted to make an offer conditional on being able to sell their condo but Ms. Benchitrit turned away such deals.
When an offer arrived without conditions and a short time until closing, Ms. Benchitrit was preparing to leave on vacation the next day. But the seller was quick to snap it up.
"It should have sold for more," says Ms. Benchitrit. "But it was a clean offer and a quick close so that made up for it."
Editor's Note: The print version and original online version of this story misspelled the name of the real estate agent for the house near Queen and Dovercourt. This version has been corrected.