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Rokham Fard, co-founder of TheRedPin, says sometimes properties languish because buyers and sellers sabotage potential sales.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The blazingly hot 2015 real estate market is gradually winding down in Toronto as new listings dwindle and house hunters become distracted by holidays and year-end diversions. The Toronto Real Estate Board figures that when the final numbers are tallied, 2015 will mark a record year for sales and prices.

In December, some listings continue to arrive on the market because of the life circumstances of the owners or because the property is a condo unit that doesn't benefit from improving weather as much as a single-family dwelling does.

At this point, many real estate agents are advising sellers to wait until 2016 to list their properties for sale. That way, the property will appear fresh when buyers turn their attention back to the lists of weekend open houses.

But it's also a time when negotiations heat up on houses and condos that are still sitting. Some figure that December is a good time to strike while rivals are busy and sellers may be weakening in their resolve.

Rokham Fard, co-founder of TheRedPin brokerage, says lots of people are motivated to sign a deal before New Year's Eve, but sometimes properties languish because buyers and sellers sabotage potential sales.

"All of them have a component of mixing emotion and logic," Mr. Fard says.

Sellers, he says, tend to inflate the value of the house because they remember how much work went into the kitchen renovation and they build their memories of family occasions into the value.

He points to the example of a seller that spurned many prospective buyers because they deemed the offers too low – even though the house had been on the market for many months. The owner felt they would get what they thought the house was worth and not what the market was telling them the value was.

The buyer, of course, is comparing the house with others on the market.

"You have to really look at it as selling a product," Mr. Fard advises homeowners. Take all of your own emotional attachments out of it.

One downfall Mr. Fard sees among sellers is that they don't make it easy for house hunters to see it by appointment. Those willing to set a time are usually far more committed than the neighbours who come through the weekend open houses, so they should be accommodated.

"You should be at the mercy of the buyer," Mr. Fard says. "If they want to see it on a Tuesday afternoon, you should make it possible."

He says even people selling their old phones in online advertisements seem to understand that basic concept, but many sellers have such strong confidence in their home's appeal that they think the buyer will accommodate the homeowner's schedule. Instead, he cautions, the seller should be thinking about what other properties the seller might see instead.

"If I am selling anything – even on Kijiji – I will make myself available."

Mr. Fard also warns against sticking around for that appointment or open house if you are the seller. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in that home. Usually, they can do that best when the family isn't gathered around the kitchen table for lunch.

He cites the example of shopping when a salesperson follows you around the store or won't stop staring at you. All that does is make the customer uncomfortable, he says, and house hunters feel the same way.

"We've all felt that – where a salesperson is following you and you're not in the zone any more. All you want to do is get out of the store."

He says potential buyers will be reluctant to discuss the home's suitability in front of the owner because they don't want to be disrespectful. But when a number of people are weighing in on a purchase, they need to be able to speak freely, he points out.

As for buyers, he advises them to be realistic about their offering price – whether or not the house has drawn multiple offers. Putting in a lowball bid will often serve only to insult the seller.

"The moment the seller sees you lowballing the offer or looking for a deal, they can feel disrespected," he says. "They don't want to take your offer because they think you're not a motivated, serious buyer."

If competing bidders show up, knowing that there is an offer registered may only encourage them to make a higher bid, he says.

And where there are no rivals, it's still important to go in with a good offer, he says. If buyers truly believe the house is worth less than the asking price, that's a valid position, Mr. Fard says, but the offer should still be strong.

"It shows that you're solid and motivated."

For both sides, he says, it's about stripping away the emotional aspect from a business transaction.

"It's not about what you can get as a deal but what the market dictates about that home."