Winter isn’t known for a booming real estate market – maybe your calendar isn’t chocked full of appointments to see oodles of listings in your area of choice. There are many ways you can take advantage of this slower listing season in your home hunting process.  Whether you’re actively pursuing and visiting open houses or simply checking out a neighbourhood, keep the following winter house hunting tips in mind.

  1. Check out the shovelling situation
    Do the neighbours shovel their walks and sidewalks and properly maintain safe paths in winter? Is there ample space to pile accumulating snowfall for the property you’re considering?  Does the walkway look like it would be easy to shovel yourself?  If it’s a building, have they cleared the snow quickly?  Has the pathway into the condo been adequately salted?
  2. Porch and walkway construction
    Does the home you’re considering have significant salt and/or weather damage from winters and winters of snow?  Look at potential areas that might need attention and/or repair in the near future and possible costs when considering a particular property.
  3. Doors and windows
    Is there a draft?  How new are the windows?  Take some time to stand or sit near any openings of the house to determine whether or not they’re doing the job.  Drafty windows and doors can be expensive to replace, but can cause thousands of additional dollars spent on heating and cooling a home year round.
  4. Furnace and thermostat repair
    Take a look at the furnace and thermostat to see if they’re in good working order.  There may even be work order stickers to update the current owner on recent repairs and upcoming maintenance.
  5. The roof
    How about the roof, are there sunken pockets?  Does it get a lot of snow build-up, while there isn’t a lot on the neighbour’s roof?  Home repair expert Mike Holmes has some tips on assessing roof age and condition in the winter that can be found here.
  6. Building’s Lobby
    Take a look at the lobby of a building you’re considering on a wet and snowy January day.  Are there snow mats to prevent residents from slipping?  Has the floor been recently mopped, or is it covered in dirty salt and snow residue?  All of these things are good indicators of general maintenance and care within the building.
  7. What about Transit?
    Consider how long it will take to get to work in the nasty weather.  If you’re driving look at parking spaces and consider shovelling time and/or building maintenance standards.  How quickly are roads plowed? Is it a primary or secondary route?  You can also arrange for transit travel advisories to go straight to your email to see how often there are delays on the route you’d be taking in the winter.

It’s easy to make a home look inviting on a warm day in June when the grass is green and the birds are chirping, but by considering the above you can ensure that your home is warm, safe and well-maintained year-round.