Zillow suggests that the best time to sell your home is during the spring and summer months. However, the timing is not always ideal for some. For some, winter may be the best time. Whether it’s the convenience of changing your child’s school district over winter break or merely having the downtime, selling your home in winter does have its merits.
And it’s not impossible! You just have to keep in mind some practical considerations and take a few extra steps. Here are 15 essential tips for selling your home in the winter.
1. Tackle Basic Home Maintenance
Before showing, tackle basic home maintenance and update or fix cabinets with new furniture hardware. When selling your home in winter, make sure to do an initial home inspection. Be on the lookout for drafts and inspect window seals and window hardware. Maintain the furnace or boiler to ensure they’re in good shape, slapping on a sticker with the last inspection date. Replace air filters to reduce odors and allergens, too.
2. Create Curb Appeal
Barren trees in winter can make a home look a bit drab, so creating curb appeal during this season is more important than ever. This means tidying up exterior areas, especially in the front, that will give potential buyers a good first impression. Clean up the yard, clearing leaves and adding fresh mulch to garden beds. Be sure to sweep the steps of leaves and dirt, too, so they’re not tracked inside. Give your home’s siding or brick a quick pressure wash to make it look bright and new. Lastly, spruce up the front door area with updated outdoor lighting fixtures and a fresh new coat of paint on the door.
3. Clear Snow from Paths
For the safety of your realtor, buyers and guests alike, make sure to clear snow from any paths. Shovel the sidewalk, driveway and walkway to the front door, sprinkling rock salt or sand to keep away ice. Maintain it periodically and after each light dusting of snow. In addition, subtly suggest that guests keep wet shoes, coats and umbrellas at the door by offering a rubber mat and coat rack. Be sure to clear any decks of snow, too, so that buyers can step out and see the space.
4. Offer a Virtual Home Tour During Other Seasons
The winter can cover your surrounding outside living spaces in a blanket of snow, which leaves much to a buyer’s imagination. Instead, create a virtual tour of how the home appears during other seasons. Through a photo album or digital slideshow, showcase the beautiful spring-blooming trees and the lush green grass and glimmering in-ground pool in summer, allowing buyers to see the home year-round. Especially for buyers who tour homes after work hours, a 3D tour of the home in daylight is extremely convenient.
5. Declutter Personal Items
Remove and put into storage as many personal items as possible, leaving only the bare minimum of what you need. You’re going to be moving eventually and, once the home is sold, this will just make moving much more manageable. Declutter the kitchen countertops of cooking gadgets, making the workspace appear spacious. The same goes for the bathroom vanity–avoid keeping makeup and toiletries cluttered on top. Clear out closets of summer clothes. (you won’t be needing those anytime soon anyway!)
6. Clean and Sanitize
Not only should you perform necessary home cleaning, removing cobwebs, dusting furniture and polishing the floors, but you need to address areas that are rarely touched. For instance, dust hard-to-reach areas like ceiling fan blades and lighting. In the bathroom and kitchen, ensure that all the fixtures and appliances–shower head, faucets, refrigerator and tub grout–are sparkling clean! Essentially, make sure to tackle all the little nooks and crannies that you often forget about. Make sure also to sanitize and disinfect areas between showings.
7. Stage Your Home
While removing personal clutter is important, consider styling your home to make it appear warm and inviting. For instance, in the kitchen, you could add a tableware setting to the dining table and display an open cookbook next to a mixer. In the bedroom, place a breakfast tray on the bed, and in the bathroom, hang spa-like robes. Essentially, you want buyers to envision themselves living there.
8. Stick to Neutral Colors
Give dingy or brightly-colored walls a new coat of paint. Stick to something more neutral or even a bright white. While you might have loved that vibrant hue behind the headboard, it might turn off potential buyers. In fact, aim for neutral colors everywhere! From the bed linens and sofa pillows to the curtains and rugs, neutral colors make a place feel effortlessly coordinated and homey while allowing buyers to envision themselves living there.
9. Minimize Seasonal Decor
Yes, winter falls in line with the holiday season. However, you want to keep the seasonal decor to a minimum and avoid going overboard. While no one expects a complete lack of holiday decor this time of year, keep it simple. Stick to neutral-colored decor with twinkling string lights instead of the contrasting red and green Christmas combo.
10. Address Lighting
Since daylight saving falls back in winter, your home might be toured during evening hours when it gets dark. For moments like this, you especially need proper lighting, inside and out. Install landscape lighting and motion-sensor spotlights along the walkways and driveway for safety, but also use exterior lighting to dramatically accent the home’s features, adding more curb appeal.
During the evenings, interior lighting should illuminate dark rooms and spaces so buyers can see everything fully. Turn on all the recessed lighting, along with accent lighting, and add extra torchiere-style floor lamps where necessary to spread more light. Also, try to experiment with lighting against your home’s color palette to find a more flattering hue. For example, bathrooms typically need brighter bulbs than bedrooms. Consider installing energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the home as well.
11. Let in Natural Sunlight
Unless the window has a bad view (like straight into the neighbor’s backyard), draw back the curtains and pull up the blinds to invite the natural sunlight. Wash the exterior dirt from the windows and remove the screens to make the space even brighter. Sunlight can make a brightly lit room look larger!
12. Adjust the Thermostat
When selling your home in the winter, remember to turn up the heat for potential buyers. When a home is warm and inviting, they feel comfortable to linger and look around. Maintaining a warm 65 degrees protects your pipes as well. A smart home thermostat can also allow you to turn up the heat before potential buyers drop by, which prevents some noisy HVAC systems from being detected.
13. Stream Ambient Music
Music can create a charming atmosphere for your home. However, stream neutral tunes like light jazz or classical music that will appeal to many tastes. Avoid radio stations and stick to a commercial-free service like Spotify or Pandora.
14. Add Subtle Scents
Avoid using strong-scented aerosols, plug-in air fresheners or candles You never know what kind of allergic reaction visitors might have. Instead, keep a crock pot simmering with a holiday potpourri of sliced oranges, cranberries and cinnamon to offer a more subtle wintry scent.
15. Print Cards with Helpful Details
Since you know your home by heart, be sure to provide potential buyers with some helpful details printed on cards. For example, leave a note to state what lighting fixtures and appliances will stay or to alert them of a low ceiling down the basement steps.
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