Ready to buy a new home? It might pay to start the house-hunt now instead of waiting for the traditional spring home-buying season, says Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage.

Conditions may not be ideal for buyers or sellers, but the dedicated few willing to wade through slush and take a gamble on snow-covered landscaping may just escape the bidding wars that come with summer shopping, he told CTV News on Thursday.

“There are fewer homes for sale and many fewer buyers,” Soper said, insisting that prices don’t change markedly from season to season. “Traditionally in Canada, it’s the first weekend after the kids’ spring break that the market roars into action … If you’re willing to get out there (before that), you have less traffic to contend with.”

While that may deter sellers from putting a place on the market in winter, there are ways to get the most out of a property for those who do, said Soper. List your home with photos of what it looks like in the summer, including any lawns or outdoor space, and make sure the inside is as inviting as possible, he said.

“You need that home to be cosy and warm so crank up the heat,” he said. “Get your realtor to schedule appointments during the day when you have natural light through nice clean windows. Regardless, you should up the wattage on lamps and lights.”

Sellers should also get rid of as much clutter as possible -- a good rule to follow at any time of year.

“We bring our outside into the house during the winter and homes can just look overwhelmed,” he said. “You need to take a hard look at this home and get stuff out of it.”

Looking ahead, Soper sees 2013 as unfolding similarly to 2012 -- with a steady home market and minimal inflation on home prices.

“My guess is relatively flat home prices in 2013,” he said. “There will be some dark spots like the Lower Mainland (near) Vancouver but I don’t expect a big price correction in the Greater Toronto area.

“We have very low interest rates, drawing people into the market who wouldn’t be there otherwise… versus a natural correction because home prices have risen faster than wages and salaries and they need a chance to catch up.”