What can make selling a home more stressful than usual? Selling it in the winter. We are experiencing a bout of great weather for this time of year…. but if you’re in the midwest, you know it’s coming!
Generally speaking, during winter there are fewer buyers , the skies are gloomy and then their are obvious poor weather conditions. So what can you do to have some success with showing your home during these cold, winter months when most are of the opinion that spring, summer and fall are the times of year to sell your home? Warm and brighten up the place; make it look like a refuge from the weather!
Not everyone has the luxury of waiting until the traditional spring or summer home-buying season to plant that “for sale” sign. And while it’s true that in most areas you’ll probably have fewer buyers during the winter, you will also have less competition from other sellers.
Be prepared to put a little effort into it. If you do it right, you can really make your house stand out. Chances are, right now the lawn is brown, the weather is usually bad and, unlike the longer days of summer, you have less time to show it off during daylight hours.
1. Keep snow and ice away
The top tip from agents: If the buyer can’t get in easily, the house won’t sell. That means keeping walkways and driveways free of the frozen stuff. Just like trimming the lawn in the summer, you want to make the home look like it’s been maintained. If you’re away frequently or live in an area that’s subject to bad weather, it can pay to hire a service to regularly salt or shovel the driveway and sidewalks.
2. Warm it up
If you’re showing during the winter, think “warm, cozy and homey”.
Before a buyer comes through, adjust the thermostat to a warmer temperature to make it welcoming. Sellers typically like to turn the temperature down because of heat costs. But buyers who come in and aren’t comfortable won’t stay long.
If you have a gas fireplace, turning it on right before the tour can give the house a little ambiance.
With a wood-burning fireplace, you’ve got to be a little more careful. If the house is vacant, don’t chance it. But if you’re still living there and will be there during the tour, it can be a nice touch.
Many times, sellers leave right before the agent and prospective buyers arrive. In that case, adjust the heat to a comfortable temperature and have the hearth set for a fire. Buyers feel the warmth and see the potential, and you don’t have to worry about safety concerns.
3. Take advantage of natural light
Encourage showings during the high-daylight hours. At this time of year, if you show after work, you’re totally in the dark.
Make the most of the light you do have. Have the curtains and blinds cleaned and open them as wide as possible during daytime showings. Clean all the lamps and built-in fixtures, and replace the bulbs with the highest wattage that they will safely accommodate. Before you show the house, turn on all the lights.
4. Get the windows washed
Buyers sometimes act on the first impression.Windows are one thing that many sellers don’t even consider. In winter, that strong southern light can reveal grime and make it look like the home hasn’t been well-maintained.
5. Play music softly in the background
To create a little atmosphere, tune the radio to the local classical station. Turn it down so that you barely hear it in the background. Most agents find that soft classical music tends to have the most appeal to buyers.
6. Make it comfortable and cozy
Set the scene and help the buyers see themselves living happily in this house. Consider things such as putting a warm throw on the sofa or folding back the thick comforter on the bed. Tap into the simple things this time of year that make you feel like you’re home.
7. Emphasize winter positives
Is your home on a bus route or some other vital service that means it’s plowed or de-iced regularly in bad weather? Be sure to mention that to the buyers.
8. Set up timers
You want your home to look warm and welcoming whenever prospective buyers drive past. But you’re not home all the time, so put indoor and outdoor lights on timers.
Look at the outside lighting around the door. Is there enough illumination to make it inviting? If not, either get the fixtures changed or have new ones added.
9. Make it festive
Even if you’re not actually going to be present, greet your buyers as if they were going to be guests at a party. Set up the dinner table with the good china and silver. Have a plate of cookies for your guests, some warm cider or even chilled bottles of water.
First impressions are so powerful. If it looks like you’re expecting and greeting company, that’s a powerful impact.
10. Give the home a nice aroma
The No. 1 favorite? Chocolate-chip cookies. Just about everybody likes that smell.
Other popular scents: cinnamon rolls, freshly baked bread, apple pie, apple cider or anything with vanilla, cinnamon or yeast.
But don’t overdo it, either. Scented candles in every room or those plug-in air fresheners can leave buyers wondering what you’re trying to mask.
Watch the bad smells, too. Pet smells, smoke and musty odors can cling to curtains and carpets. Ask your real-estate agent or a friend to give it a sniff test. Then clean the house, air it out and replace drapes, carpets or rugs before you show it.
11. Protect your investment
Some sellers (or their agents) will ask buyers to either remove shoes or slip on paper “booties” over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers like that. It indicates a pride of ownership and meticulousness that resonates with buyers.
12. Use the season to your advantage
While the holidays are over (and the Christmas and Hanukkah stuff should come down), you can still use winter wreaths and dried arrangements around the door to spark interest. Anything seasonally appropriate is fun.
In the winter, with the leaves off the trees, you might also have a nice view that isn’t as apparent in the spring and summer months. You can see the views better this time of year.