Selling Your Home In Winter: Everything You Need To Know
Of all the popular wisdom swirling around the arcane workings of the real estate market, one of the most persistent notions is that selling in spring will achieve the best possible result.
It makes sense, of course. Gardens in full bloom mean spring is when many houses are seen to their best advantage. And unless you live in a perpetually sunny clime, (e.g. in the northern regions of Australia), it’s not, traditionally, been ideal to put your home on the market in winter: Bad weather discourages buyers from venturing forth and often makes a property look dreary. However, you can still take some steps to make the open home pleasant: letting in the light, creating a warm ambience (both literal and figurative), even serving refreshments. Here are some advantages to selling in winter and several tips to entice buyers to come in out of the cold.
Selling a house in winter is a divisive topic. There are going to be a great deal of sellers that take their home off the market over the course of winter, or simply postpone placing it up for sale until spring. As a result, sellers aren’t forced to compete with as many homes over the attention of buyers. The supply of homes for sale tends to drop at this time of the year, and sellers benefit immensely.
Show Off Energy-Efficiency
More and more buyers are looking to conserve money on their energy bills through sustainable practices. Winter may represent the perfect time to show off a home’s efficiency. When selling your home in the winter, don’t be afraid to highlight its energy efficiency. Run the heater; doing so will let people know things are in working order and perhaps even serve as a gateway into informing them on the energy savings the home is capable of.
The buyers’ market consists of a lot of people that weren’t able to find homes over summer and autumn. Perhaps even more importantly, they are growing impatient with their home search. The process of looking for a new home is exhaustive, and many of the people looking over winter are simply ready to make a move; they are tired of looking and want the path of least resistance. If you can offer them the deal they are looking for, there’s no reason you can’t use their motivation to your advantage.
So now you know you have the motivated buyers out in force, follow these steps to ensure your home looks as appealing as possible in the dreary winter weather.
1. Let in the Light
Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the curtains on every window (unless the view or outdoor scenery is particularly undesirable). Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. You can further brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
2. Make Everything Sparkle
Washing the windows enhances the precious daylight hours. Clean out cobwebs and dust furniture, ceiling fan blades, and light fixtures. Bleach dingy grout and, if necessary, recaulk tubs, showers, and sinks. Polish chrome faucets and mirrors. Clean out the refrigerator; it probably needs cleaning anyway. Wash or polish floors, and vacuum daily; if you have plush carpeting, vacuum in one direction. Empty trash and recycling bins every day.
3. Turn Up the Heat
You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more incentive to linger, especially on a cold day. So pump up that thermostat. It’s better to heat the house a degree or two warmer than usual and then set the temperature at normal; this prevents the heat from kicking on when the buyer is present (some HVAC systems are loud). If you have a fireplace, light it up, but be sure to open the damper, place a screen in front of it, and don’t leave it unattended for very long.
4. Create a Mood
You want rooms to appear especially warm, cozy, and inviting. Make your living room romantic by placing two champagne glasses near a champagne bucket on the coffee table; toss afghans or throws across the arms of your sofa. Dress your dining room table for a dinner for two. In the bedroom, set a breakfast tray on the bed containing a coffee cup and saucer, napkin, and reading material. Turn your bathroom into a spa by hanging plush robes on the door, placing washcloths and towels in baskets, arranging a grouping of soaps, lotions, and shampoo. Evoke a sense of summer. Place vases filled with flowers around the house. Display photographs showcasing flower gardens and lush green lawns.
5. Turn On the Sound
Don’t neglect the aural ambiance. Have soft music playing throughout; light jazz or classical music is always soothing. Don’t turn on a commercial radio station; instead stream your tunes from a computer or tablet, using iTunes or a service like Spotify, so that your music will be continuous. Mute the ringers on telephones and answering machines.
6. Ease Up on the Scents
Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorisers, so don’t spray the air or plug-in air fresheners. Don’t burn candles or spray perfume in the bedroom for the same reason. If you’re going to bake cookies or simmer spices in water on the stove, put out munchies so that prospective buyers aren’t disappointed. More than one visitor has been lured into a room by a mouthwatering aroma, only to say sadly, “Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!” Speaking of which…
7. Serve Winter Foods
Hot apple cider and hot chocolate make great beverage choices. Creamy soups and stews are delicious on a cold day; to avoid dealing with utensils, serve them in paper cups. Otherwise, stick to finger foods.
8. Provide Specific Information
Attach printed cards to items and in rooms that provide further information the buyer might miss or might not know. You have so little time to make an impression. If you have an antique chandelier that’s staying with the house, put a card on it that discloses its age and other important details. If you have removed the washer and dryer from the laundry room, attach a card to the wall describing the room so that visitors know where they are. If you have steep stairs, attach a card to the railing that cautions buyers to watch their step or their heads. Take care when placing a card that says: “Not included in the sale.” That tag makes a buyer want it, but you can play that later to your advantage.
9. Use Technology
Plug indoor lamps into a timer to automatically turn on at times you’re showing the house. Consider using motion sensors that light up in the evening when a buyer approaches your doorstep. Program your crock-pot to warm up soup at a designated time or your oven to bake or reheat breads or cookies.
10. Prepare your entrance
If it’s raining, pathways and lawns are going to be muddy, which means dealing with wet/muddy shoes and umbrellas! Do put a sign at the front door to request that visitors remove their shoes, particularly if you have carpet, to ensure that no wet and dirt is trudged throughout the house. Provide somewhere dry for them to leave their shoes and a container to hold wet umbrellas.
For one reason or another, the idea of selling your home in winter carries a negative connotation. There is a large contingent of people that are convinced the colder months make it incredibly difficult to sell. However, in reality you can sell a home in any season with the right plan and price in place.