The real estate market generally tends to slow down during the month of December as buyers put their search on hold in favour of gift shopping, holiday preparations, vacations, etc. Accordingly, sellers usually don’t put their property on the market so close to the holiday season unless they have to. A listing can suffer a bit if it sits over Christmas/New Years with no showings and the thought is that it’s better to wait and list in January/February when more buyers are in the market.
Of course there's always the other side of the coin. From a seller’s perspective, listing at a time when there are fewer properties on the market means that you have less competition. From a buyer’s perspective, searching for a property when the market is slower means that you’ll be competing with fewer other buyers.
A December slow-down isn’t always the case though. Over the past few weeks I’ve been involved in a couple of multiple-offer situations and I’m gearing up for another one tomorrow evening. We’re at mid-December now and there are still buyers viewing properties and submitting offers. There’s still steam in a market that’s been hopping for the last 6 months and, although there will be a break for the holidays, it might only be a short one.
December 2007 was quite active as well, due in part to buyers scrambling to purchase before the new Toronto Land Transfer Tax came into play. December 2008 was obviously a very different story... Anyone who bought in that market likely got a steal of a deal.
So, it seems that December can be a good time to sell. And it can be a good time to buy. It depends largely on what's happening in the market at that time (this is obviously true no matter what time of year it is) and, to a lesser extent, on the perspectives of the sellers and buyers themselves.
If you're thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.