Posted by Helen Ford, PMP, Realtor, GRI at Dec. 29, 2016
Selling in the winter offers at least two positives – less competition and new customers. During the winter, most people have taken their listings off the market, but agents can help buyers who have been forced into sudden moves, like executives with job transfers who are looking to purchase a property quickly.
To take advantage of the season, make sure your home is properly staged for the winter. This can help your property receive a higher offer and get off the market sooner.
Start on the Outside
There is no question that curb appeal is one of the first things that attract a potential buyer, but more often than not, they are forgiving of a snow-covered property during the winter months. Most buyers understand that snow piles up in the yard and trees stay barren during cold weather.
What they will not tolerate however is the inability to get to your open house because of bad weather. If heavy snow threatens before the open house, you may need to provide alternative directions to visitors or move the showing to when the weather is more favorable.
If snow covers the ground, clear a safe path from the street to the front door. Spreading sand or salt on the walkway can improve footing. Do not forget to also clear a pathway to any outdoor areas that you want buyers to visit, such as a storage shed or guest house.
Make it Comfortable
Be sure to ask your client to turn on the heat in all the rooms for a warm walk-through. Before the open house begins, walk through the property and check the warmth level in each room. If any room or area feels chilly, buyers may assume that the home lacks adequate insulation or has heating issues.
If the source of the cold air is a draft from a hole or a poorly sealed window, seal any gaps to eliminate the problem. Poor air circulation may also be an issue. You can remedy this by moving furniture away from vents wherever the room allows.
What buyers see can affect their perception of warmth. Barren areas, solid colors, shine and reflective surfaces reinforce a “cool” aesthetic and are best reserved for summer staging. In the winter, ensure that warm fabrics, rugs, pillows, curtains, bed linens and tablecloths adorn the home for visual warmth. Layer throws and pillows on sofas and beds so visitors can envision cozy days spent on the couch. Use richly textured materials such as furry blankets and wooden accessories.
Bring in the promise of warmer times by putting containers filled with winter-blooming plants in strategic locations. Place a hanging plant near the entry, a winter bouquet on the dining room table or a bunch of small flowers on the side tables flanking the couch.
Staging your winter listings should not take any more time, effort or money than in the summer. Adequate preparation and a bit of attention to detail can make the difference between marketing a cozy home that buyers will bid on and a property that languishes on the market for months because it seems as cold as the weather outside.