The winter months are generally not considered to be the prime time for real estate transactions. Especially in colder climates with regular snow fall, most buyers prefer to make the rounds in the spring and summer, when the weather is nicer. That having been said, it is short sighted, and almost irresponsible, to take a home off the market during the winter months, or to avoid showing your home because of the season. Winter might not be the ideal time to sell a home but, as with any transaction, it benefits the seller to have as many buyers interested as possible, and it is therefore important to make sure your home is properly prepared for winter showings. Here are a few tips to help make your home as appealing as possible during the cold winter months.
Be sure your home is clean and well kept. This tip is important for all seasons, but particularly so in the winter months. Be sure that sidewalks, driveways, and paths are kept free of ice and snow, and use salt to make sure that walkways are not slippery. It is not to your benefit to have your home seem hard to reach during the winter months. If possible, wash windows and entrances to make your home seem more inviting. Inside, try to remove clutter (and if possible, store offsite), so as to make your home seem larger. During the winter, the inability to open windows and doors can make a home seem smaller, so this is another tip that applies to all months, but even more so in winter. Ideally, you should also try to remove personal items, such as family photos, sports memorabilia, or anything else personal and specific to your family. This will help the prospective buyer imagine themselves in the home. When buyers come to tour your home, ask that they remove their shoes, or have shoe covers available. This will show a level of care for your home that most buyers will find appealing.
Use the season to your advantage. There are a lot of great things about winter, and it is crucial that you leverage those things in order to make your home more appealing. Seasonal decorations are a great touch, be it a wreath on the door, festive hand towels in the bathroom, or a wintry flower arrangement in the entrance-way. If you have a dining room, consider setting the table as though you were expecting company, in order to emphasize the homey feel the holidays give us. If you home is located near any seasonal attractions, such as a parade route, ski hills, a Christmas village, or anything else seasonal, be sure to emphasize these attractions to the potential buyer. In addition, be sure to note any “advantages” that your home has over others when it comes to winter. If your village does a particularly good job plowing, or your home is on a route that gets plowed more regularly than others for any reason, be sure to inform the prospective buyer of this, or any other advantages your home has over others.
Create a warm, cozy feeling throughout the home. If you are trying to showcase your home, and highlight all its finest features, the worst thing you can do is skimp on heating. Walking in to a cold home will be immediately off putting to a potential buyer, and will also raise concerns that may not even be legitimate. Is that a draft? Is this home poorly insulated? Is the heating system out of date, inefficient, or ineffective? If you know that your home will be shown, be sure to set the thermostat to a respectable temperature. In addition to air temperature, try to create a warm atmosphere throughout your home as well. If possible, arrange to have your home shown during the day, and be sure that curtains and blinds are open. Allowing natural light to flood in will make your home seem much more livable and inviting. If you cannot be home, and know that it will be dark, place lights on a timer. Walking in to a dark home can be very uninviting. You want your prospective buyer to be able to imagine themselves living in your home, and walking in to a dark, cold house will have quite the opposite effect. If you have the time and the opportunity, consider baking just before the showing. The scent of chocolate chip cookies, or cinnamon buns, can make a home seem much more inviting and home-like. Soft music is another small touch that can make a home much more appealing to a potential purchaser.
Advertise for all seasons. Today, most home sellers use some type of Realtor, and therefore do some sort of advertising or listing. When making decisions regarding these listings, remember that while the home may only be shown during the winter months, whoever buys the home will live in it year round. Be sure to highlight all seasonal benefits your home has to offer. If you have a three season room, winter may not be the more opportune time to show it off, but nonetheless that home will offer a benefit for the vast majority of the year. In addition, try to have pictures available of the yard, home, landscaping, etc. taken during the summer months, when there is no snow on the ground, to give the potential buyer an idea of what the home will look like the other 9 months of the year. Also mention other seasonal attractions, such as festivals or concert venues.
Selling a home in the winter can be a tall order. It can be hard at time to convince people to leave a cozy living room with a warm fire and venture out to an unknown building, and have them try and decide if this is a location they can call home. As the seller, it would behoove you to do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for a prospective buyer to imagine your home as theirs.