It’s a commonly held belief that spring and summer are the prime times for home sales. Warm weather, fresh starts and the opportunity to change residences while kids are out of school are all compelling reasons to put your house on the market and attract the best buyer while the weather is on your side. In the best of all possible worlds, this concept works well. But, for a variety of reasons, houses go on the market at all times of the year, and some of you will need to sell your house in winter. Job changes, family status changes or simple wanderlust can be motivations to sell your house at any time of the year.
It takes a bit of planning and staging to properly prepare your house to present well when interested potential buyers come along in colder weather. While many preparation tips for selling a house are applicable in any season, the winter home selling season presents a few challenges, and opportunities, for the determined home sellers.
1. Just as you may be in a forced situation where you need to sell your home now, there are potential buyers out there in the same predicament, requiring them to buy a house when the overall inventory is lower. You may have less competition with other sellers in the winter months and this could definitely work to your advantage. You may have fewer showings, but they are likely to be more motivated buyers.
2. If you’re showing your house during the holiday season, it’s probably a good idea to refrain from displaying your usual collections of holiday decorations. Houses that show well need to be uncluttered with extraneous bric-a-brac. Save your blowout holiday decorations for next year, when you’ll want to make everything warm and cozy for your first holiday season in your new home.
3. Even though it’s winter, you want your house to look as fresh as spring. Use photos taken during the spring and summer months in all your real estate advertising. Snow and ice and bare trees are never going to appeal to a potential buyer as much as a bright garden in the full bloom of spring. Let a buyer see the potential in your home.
4. Keep up with the upkeep even in the bleakest of weather. Walkways and driveways should be free of snow. Leaves should be raked and the grass should still be well groomed. Curb appeal is still crucial, even in the dead of winter.
5. Winter is notorious for being overcast and gray. Don’t skimp on your lighting, both indoors and out. Add additional lighting fixtures, if necessary, to make your house as bright and open as possible.
6. Keep the temperature in your house at a comfortable level at all times. You may lower the thermostat in an energy saving effort in your daily life, but potential buyers will only feel the chill and interpret it as a poor reflection on the overall comfort of the house.
7. The weather outside may be uninviting but you should still make it easy for potential buyers to go outside on the deck, into the backyard or anywhere else outdoors that is part of the property. Display photos in the house that show the outdoor areas in their best light so buyers can get a feel for just how wonderful your home can be if they decide to make it their home.
8. Keeping your house looking fresh and clean is a greater challenge in the winter. Rise to the challenge by washing the windows more frequently, cleaning smudges and smears from all surfaces and making sure you aren’t dragging snow and mud in from the outside.
It may not be your first choice to put your house on the market in the bleak fall and winter months but, if you make a strong effort to put your best foot forward in the staging and preparation of your home, you could just find yourself being handsomely rewarded with a solid sale and a good return on that all-important real estate investment.