Few would argue that selling your home is a stressful endeavor under the BEST of circumstances. Now, couple that with the need to sell in the dead of winter, and you could have a full-on coronary on your hands. The lawn is no longer green or even brown…. it’s frozen!! The foliage is dead. It’s cold, and it seems to get dark right after lunchtime. But, believe it or not, there ARE ways that you CAN and SHOULDuse this off-peak real estate season to your advantage.
For one thing, while it is true that there are probably fewer buyers in winter, there are also fewer SELLERS, which can most definitely work to your advantage. And remember, often those Buyers who are out searching in the Winter are also the most serious and ready Buyers! And now you’re a bigger fish in a smaller pond. Currently there is an extremely low inventory level and you could greatly benefit from the lack of competition. Most people view the “Spring “ as the optimum time to bring their house on the market not realizing that they are unconsciously giving buyers more choices and a lesser degree of urgency to make a decision to act. Couple that with the idea that the buyers that come out in Winter are definitely serious purchasers, you would do well to expose your home to these potential buyers looking to secure the benefits of the current interest rates while there is less direct competition for a home like yours. If you work to make your house stand out a little, this could be just the advantage needed.
Here are a few tips to make your home more attractive to buyers in the winter:
- Perhaps most importantly, look at things from the buyers’ perspective. They’re cold, too. They are looking for what we are ALL looking for in the winter time . . . . warm and cozy. Warm and cozy is probably the greatest selling point of a house at this time of year. When you know buyers will be coming through, adjust the thermostat to make it comfortable in the house. If the lookers aren’t comfortable, they won’t stay very long. You can turn it down to save money later. Throw some pretty throws or covers around to make it a snuggly-looking place. Turn down a cozy comforter or quilt on the bed. Heck, build a fire in the fireplace. No greater draw than that! When you take down the Christmas or Hannukah decorations, leave a few carefully placed “winter” decorations up. If it warms your heart, it will warm the buyers’ heart, too. That’s exactly what people are looking for in a home.
- Aside from making the house LOOK cozy and FEEL cozy, you can also make it SMELL cozy. No, you don’t have to be on hand baking cookies during all showings. But you certainly can place air fresheners throughout your home. For winter, stick with the heartwarming scents – warm-baked cookies, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, apple cider . . . . . let’s face it, we like to eat and smell baked sugary food in the cold months!
- If the buyers can’t get to the house, they won’t buy the house. If they fall on their buttocks in front of the house, they probably won’t buy it, either. So be super-vigilant about keeping snow and ice at bay. Shovel, salt, and clean up walkways and driveways. And do NOT forget to clean up the stairs, as well.
- Winter is a time when many suffer, sometimes unknowingly, from light deprivation. Many may not even be aware of how much they crave light at this time of year. So play up all of the natural light in your home that you possibly can. Pull back curtains and shades. Wash and clean all windows, inside and out. They tend to get super-dirty during winter storms, and we often don’t realize just how much that filters light until AFTER we clean them. Because it gets dark, or darker, so early in the winter, it may be a good idea to put on inside AND outside lights, even before it is dark out. The dark can creep up on you before you realize it and get to the light switch.
- Play up the winter positives. Buyers are afraid of getting into the unknown. It’s smart to buy an umbrella while it is raining, because you can see any leaks. This same theory can apply to house buying in the winter. Let them know that they can weather winter comfortably in this house. If your street is one that is plowed and de-iced regularly, be sure to bring that up. Point out the heightened view through the windows while the leaves are off of the trees. Do what you can to make it a happy place to be when it is cold and depressing outside.
As always, you can contact me for year-round tips on making your house more attractive to perspective buyers . But don’t panic about being a winter seller. Some of these tips may be just the hook that you need for a buyer. Oh, did I menti0n that moving companies have a more free schedule at this time of year, too? BONUS!!! So call me…. and remember that SELLING YOUR HOUSE IN WINTER IS SMART!