Published January 09, 2014
Winter can be the toughest season to put a house on the market. But if you plan on selling your home in the next few months, here are some tips to increase your chances of a winter sale.
Winter Curb Appeal
To improve curb appeal — that all-important first impression your home makes on buyers — many real estate agents will recommend that you clean up the yard, do a little landscaping and repaint the exterior. However, with a layer of snow on the ground and icy winds howling around your home, it can be nearly impossible to take care of these sorts of things. Fortunately, there are some other ways to improve your home’s appearance in the winter. Start by making sure all of the snow is cleared away from the driveway and front walkway, as well as any backyard porches and patios you might have. To really show off your home, have the roof shoveled and remove any dangerous, dangling icicles from the gutters. You’ll also want to show off the yard as best as possible. If you have evergreen trees or shrubs, shake off the snow to give it a verdant touch.
To counter the dark days of winter, you will want to make sure that your house is well lit. Replace dim bulbs with brighter ones and consider ditching cold-hued CFL bulbs for warmer LED or incandescent lights. When potential buyers show up, make sure all the lights are on. While you don’t want to blind buyers, you do want the home to feel bright and warm even when you show it in the evening. Finally, a few well-placed floodlights outside can light the walkway to the home and show off the structure.
Warm It Up
No one wants to buy a cold, drafty home. So when potential buyers show up, make sure the thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature. Remember, they are going to be coming in from the cold, so you might want to set it a few degrees warmer than you usually have it. Next, you’ll want to hunt down any icy drafts and seal them up. Leaky windows, air vents and electrical outlets are the enemy when selling a home in the winter, so make sure they are caulked and properly insulated. If there are some areas of the home that are always a little colder than others, add a few small space heaters into the mix so that you get a nice even temperature throughout the house.
A fireplace can but a great advantage when selling in the winter, but if it’s been a while since you used it, make sure you get it cleaned and tested before you start showing your home. You don’t want to smoke out your first round of potential buyers with a plugged up chimney.
Air It Out
With the windows shut up tight, a house in the winter can start to smell musty. To make it smell fresh again, give everything a thorough cleaning by washing drapes, towels and upholstery with good quality soap and fabric softener. If the carpets need cleaning, keep in mind that it can take a lot longer for them to dry in the winter and you might be stuck with that damp smell for a while, so make sure to steam clean them a week or more before you start showing the home.
House Staging in the Winter
Staging a home is important when selling in any season, but you can also add a few winter-specific details. A gleaming Dutch oven on the stove, a few throw blankets on the couch and lit candles in the living room are great, small touches that communicate warmth in the winter. If you’re selling your home during the holidays, a decorated tree and a few wreaths can go a long way. But make sure to take these down by the time January rolls around — that dried-out tree will make the place feel abandoned rather than festive.