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A house recently sold during winter real estate market in Toronto February 06, 2013.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The question:

I live in Toronto and I'm thinking of selling my house. I keep hearing the market is down but maybe it'll come back up; that if I wait a few months prices will strengthen. Should I wait or sell now?

The answer:

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My advice has always been the same: Sell, or buy, only when it's right for you.

That being said, the real estate market really does heat up in the spring months. In 2012, a wave of new listings hit the market between March and June, representing nearly 46 per cent of all homes sold in the GTA for the year (source: TREB Statistics).

Spring is certainly the best time to sell or buy for many clients. It's a time of renewal and change in general, and it's simply the most practical time for many too. Buying in the spring allows for a closing date early in the summertime, aligning with school and work breaks that make moving easier. It's a key factor for clients who don't want their kids to switch schools in the middle of the year.

But the past five years have seen unprecedented growth in Toronto's real estate values, and especially heavy competition for the properties available in the spring. I've found that this translates into pent-up demand from buyers who simply haven't been successful in securing a new home in the spring market – whether because of high pricing, bidding wars or just plain exhaustion.

For sellers, this means growing demand for homes across the seasons, and especially after the spring rush.

As a seller, you may not get a bidding war in the middle December and you may not sell for maximum dollar in August... but you'll likely not pay maximum dollar either if, like most people, your buying a new place after you sell your own home. The average home price in GTA in December was $478,700, compared to the peak of $515,869 in April of last year.

Last year I was preparing to list a house to hit the market in the prime spring season. However, organizational changes in the client's workplace meant we had to delay the listing. Turns out, the client had to relocate to a different part of the city.

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Had he listed, sold and subsequently bought in the area at that time, he would have had a serious issue. While he may have maxed out his sale price, the house he acquired would no longer have been suitable. But, thanks to that pent-up demand we saw last year, we later sold in the summer for a very solid price and also acquired the right house at the right price, and in the right neighbourhood, for him.

Lessons learned: It's perfectly possible to sell outside the spring season and acquire a new home at the right price too. But what mattered the most was that the timing had to make sense for the client. There are peak sales seasons sure, but what fits you and your family should always be your decision driver, not the traditional sales season.

Ricky Chadha is broker with Royal LePage Estate Realty, and specializes in applying social media and other digital tools to the business of real estate. You can find Ricky on Twitter @your416 or at his website RickyChadha.com.

Submit your questions to realestateexpert@globeandmail.com. Our Real Estate Expert will answer select questions, which could appear on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Real Estate Expert is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional real estate advice.

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