How to motivate buyers in non-peak market times

Every market has buyers, even a slow one. The key to selling in a buyer’s market is combining an attractive price point with a stunning listing that leaves zero doubts in the mind of a potential buyer. You need to appeal to their emotion and make them feel like your house is “the one.”

In terms of pricing, this means hiring a licensed REALTOR® that knows how to perform a proper comparative market analysis. They need to understand how and why similar homes recently sold in your neighbourhood and compare them to your property when setting a list price. Again, details and features matter here. For example, you will never get as much for a house on a main road as you will for a home on a quiet street. 

Sometimes, if the market is so slow that nothing is moving, there are too few recent sales for a comparative market analysis to be statistically valid. This in itself could indicate that current listing prices in your area are too high or there is not a lot of demand for your property type. This is where experience makes the difference as a skilled Realtor should be able to develop a pricing and marketing strategy despite this.

When it comes to creating a stunning listing in a slow market, you may want to invest in some basic cosmetic improvements. For example, depersonalizing and decluttering your home; or finding low-cost, low-effort ways to freshen up your key selling areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Travis does not typically recommend renovating to address larger deficiencies. In general, it’s best to just disclose these issues and let the next owner decide what they want to do. The key to listing in a slow market is also about getting your listing up as fast as possible, so waiting for six months to complete a renovation is not going to do you any favours. 

In our case study below, you learn how Travis helped Christine and Raymond quickly sell their detached bungalow in the mature Calgary neighbourhood of Acadia, despite listing in the off-season during a slow market.


Cute bungalow with cosmetic and location challenges

"Locationally, we knew there were some challenges as our home backed onto a multi-family residential rental property and fronted onto a busy street. We wanted to consult Travis early so we could get his opinion on what we could do to make our home more desirable prior to listing.  

"While parts of the home were renovated in recent years, after meeting with Travis and his stager, we knew there were some additional inexpensive cosmetic things we could do to enhance our home: decluttering and removing personal effects, refreshing paint, and adding some peel and stick linoleum in the bathrooms. 

"Our basement was only partially finished, we wondered whether we should work on finishing the downstairs bathroom. Travis convinced us that it was better to just address the cosmetic changes that were easy to implement, and let the next homeowners decide exactly how they’d want to finish the basement."

Bungalow kitchen


Cosmetic refresh and set a fair market price

"Life happened and months went by before we started tackling our staging to-do list. We knew we needed to be out of our house by the following September, so once spring came, we finally started working away at decluttering the house and taking down our artwork. As an experienced home painter, I was able to patch and paint over any nail holes on the walls. I freshened up high traffic areas by scrubbing them clean and hitting them with another light coat of paint.

"We hired a contractor friend to handle some of the bigger patch jobs with drywall, and to pressure wash and repaint our carport which was solid in construction but needed a new coat to spruce it up.

"Decluttering was challenging as our son was a full-blown toddler at the time, so we did our best to keep the toys tucked away in his room. We also bought some inexpensive storage shelves from Ikea and placed them in the basement. We started boxing up anything we didn’t need so we could stage the home.

"We had never got around to buying a proper bedroom suite, so we ordered a reasonably priced headboard off Amazon, and found a used bedroom set for a couple of hundred dollars off Facebook Marketplace. It wasn’t fancy, but it would tie the master bedroom together as per the staging suggestions we received. 

"To freshen up the bathrooms, we grabbed some inexpensive peel and stick tile to cover the faded linoleum, a clearance light fixture to modernize and brighten the bathroom, and a new vanity to replace the old cracked one. 

"We probably spent less than $1,000 addressing all these little things (plus our own sweat equity), but it was totally worth it. When we invited Travis back, he felt confident the home would show very well.

"The challenge now was that would be listing at the tail-end of the spring market – home prices were dropping and days on market were rising. We knew pricing would be critical to our success. Travis’ recommended we set our list price low enough as to be in line with other recent sales in our neighbourhood, but with enough wiggle room that we could negotiate what we felt was fair."

Bathroom in bungalow


A quick sale at a good price

"We listed our property in June, right before Stampede – a less than ideal time. However, we still had multiple viewings and sold our home after only 14 days on market at a great price. While we sold for a little under list, our sale set a record in Acadia at that time and met our personal sales goal. More importantly, our home was off the market before buyers left for summer vacation.

"We really feel we have Travis and his whole team to thank for taking care of all the details – from the home inspection to the professional cleaning to the stunning photography and our listing write up. We also know Travis also used his 20 years of experience to tap his personal network, ensuring our listing got in front of the right potential buyers and buyers’ agents.

"Ultimately, his understanding of the market, his sound advice, and his team allowed us to quickly sell our home so we could move onto the next stage of our lives. We were extremely happy with the result and always recommend Travis to our friends and family."

Bedroom in bungalow



*all stats based on CREB® MLS® System sales data and average sale price since 2007

Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.