Real Estate Q+A: How to Sell Your House in the Winter

Entryway DecorThere is a belief out there that it’s more difficult to sell your home in the winter than the seasons with more favourable weather. Perhaps it’s easier for your home to present itself in a good light, with green grass around, clear walkways and plenty of natural light. Spring and summer offer an opportunity to a much better curb appeal, without slush or snow. But there are advantages to selling your home during the cooler months. With fewer homes on the market, there is less competition and more time to consider offers. Also, in this strong housing market, there is demand for property all year round. Life doesn’t stop in October – people get new jobs, family grows, decisions are made. So although it’s cold outside, this is the time to play up the home’s warm, cosy and family-friendly charm. Here are a few tips to convince you that it’s definitely possible to sell when the weather outside is frightful.

Tend to the exterior

Make sure that the eavestroughs are clean and take care of minor repairs. Although you can’t paint in the winter, washing the paintwork and siding with warm soapy water on a mild day makes a difference. Also don’t forget to wash the windows. Bright winter sun has a way of highlighting grime.

Clear the snow and ice

Make sure you have a good supply of salt on standby and keep all walkways and driveways clear for the duration of your sale period. Not only does it help make your home look well maintained, but it prevents slips and injuries. Remember that if a visitor hurts him or herself, you could be liable for damages. Also, don’t forget the sides of your property and any areas that may need to be accessed for inspections. Make sure that shrubs and branches weighed-down by the snow don’t obstruct walkways or entrances.

Add outdoor lighting

Winter daylight doesn’t last long so make your home visible in those early evenings by installing additional lighting in any dark corners and especially around the front door. Ensure garden and landscape lighting on the exterior of the home is visible through the snow. Holiday lights around the exterior of the house give it a family-feel, but remember it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so keep the festive green and red, blinking pattern, to a minimum and opt for simple white lights to accent the lines of the home during the holidays.

Set a cozy winter scene

This is a festive time of year but don’t over do on the holiday decor and try to keep things clean and simple while trying to sell. Too many decorations can may your home feel cluttered and distracting to potential buyer. Instead, create a cozy environment with greenery like garlands on the mantle and banisters, and light candles around the home (keep them sent free as visitors may be sensitive to scents). If you have a wood-burning fireplace, light a fire and let it glow and crackle during the showing. Don’t forget the entry way and plant urns with festive greenery with cedar or pine boughs and add springs of holly, dried berries or magnolia leaves. Remember, you may only have about 10 minutes to make a lasting impression.

Adjust open house schedule

When scheduling an open house during the weekends, take advantage of the highest point of sunlight by adjusting open house and showing times to mid-day. In December, the days get dark as early as 4:30pm, so try scheduling the open house between noon and 3:00pm.

Protect the floors

Snow and salt does a number on your floors so remember to protect them. To communicate a pride in ownership and keep things clean, create system for the footwear during showings. Put down rubber mats or shelving by the door for snowy boots. A few pairs of comfy one-size-fits-all slippers from a department or discount store for visitors to wear while they view your home is also a nice touch.

Highlight winter positives

Seek out winter positives of your home and neighbourhood and communicate them to prospective buyers. Things like speedy snow removal or distance to a community ice rink can help make your home appealing to a buyer.

Price to sell

As there tends to be fewer buyers and fewer homes on the market during the winter, there is less opportunity for multiple bidders. So pricing your home to sell (at fair market value) is all the more important in winter.

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