As we’ve previously examined on our blog, listing your home during the winter months, statistically, can lead to great success. But there are still some hurdles to jump, as a home seller, to make the greatest impression during showings and open houses in the snow laden months.
As a seller, let’s face it, it’s less than ideal. The lawn is brown, the weather prompts some potential buyers to hibernate and unlike the longer days of summer, you have less time to show your home during daylight hours.
The season makes staging — the concept of showing your house at its best — even more important.
But if you put the effort in, you can really make your house stand out.
1. Keep snow and ice at bay.
The top tip from our 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. You may be tempted to keep the thermostat down due to heating costs, but if buyers come in and are uncomfortable, they won’t stay long.
If you have a gas fireplace, turning it on right before the tour can give the house a little ambience, Libby says.
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 showing 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 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. It’s soothing, we’ve found that soft classical music tends to have the most appeal to buyers, for example, potential buyers tend to stay around and look a little longer.
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” that at this time of year that make you feel at 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? Are you selling a condo or townhouse where maintenance fees cover snow removal? 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 a buyer and greeting them as company, that’s a powerful impact.
10. Give the home a nice aroma.
The Number 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. Scented candles in every room or 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 – better yet – slip on paper “booties” over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers actually like that, it indicates “pride of ownership” and a meticulousness that resonates with buyers.
12. Use the season to your advantage
While the holidays are over (and the Christmas and Hanukkah stuff should be down), you can still use winter wreaths and dried arrangements around the door to spark interest. Anything seasonally appropriate is fun – but as with scents – keep it simple.
13. Highlight the view.
In the winter, with leaves off the trees, you might have an enhanced view that isn’t as apparent in the spring and summer months. It’s a great time to sell waterfront homes and properties with partially obstructed waterviews whose view improves without foliage. This, specifically, is a great opportunity for Jersey Shore-area properties and our clients.
We are well seasoned when it comes to selling homes in the winter months and are highly educated to its advantages. Please contact us online or call 732.455.5252 for a free comparative market analysis and a review of your specific marketing plan.