Selling your home in the middle of winter poses additional challenges. The lawn is brown, the weather is usually bad and you have less time to show it off during daylight hours. Staging your home—the concept of showing your house at its best—becomes even more important in the winter. Here are 13 tips to help you maximize your home’s appearance and minimize the effects of the winter season.
Keep snow and ice at bay
If potential buyers can’t get to your house easily, your house won’t sell. That means keeping walkways and driveways free from ice and snow. 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.
Warm it up
If you’re showing your home during the winter, think “warm, cozy and homey.” Before buyers come through, adjust the thermostat to a warmer temperature to make it feel welcoming. Remember, if buyers come into your home and are cold and uncomfortable, they won’t stay long!
Take advantage of natural light
Encourage house showings during the high-daylight hours. 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 lamps and built-in fixtures, and replace the bulbs with the highest wattage they will safely accommodate. Before you show your house, turn on all the lights.
Get the windows washed
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 your home hasn’t been well maintained.
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 can barely hear it in the background. People tend to stay around and look a little longer when soft classical music is playing.
Make it comfortable and cozy
Set the scene and help the buyers see themselves living happily in your 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 make you feel like you’re at home.
Emphasize winter positives
If your home is on a bus route or some other vital route that means it’s plowed or de-iced regularly in bad weather, be sure to mention that to the buyers.
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.
Make it festive
Even if you’re not actually going to be present at the showing, 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.
Give the home a nice aroma
The No. 1 favorite aroma is chocolate-chip cookies. Just about everybody likes that smell. Other popular scents include: 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 those plug-in air fresheners can leave buyers wondering what you’re trying to mask. Watch the bad smells too. Pet odors, smoke and mustiness can cling to curtains and carpets. Ask your real-estate agent or a friend to give a sniff test. Then clean the house, air it out and replace drapes, carpets or rugs before you show it.
Protect your investment
Some sellers (or their agents) will ask buyers to either remove shoes or slip on paper “booties” over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers like that because it indicates a pride of ownership and meticulousness that resonates with them.
Use the season to your advantage
Although the holidays are over, you can still use winter wreaths and dried arrangements around the door to spark interest. In the winter, with the leaves off the trees, you might also have a nice view that isn’t as evident in the spring and summer months.
Consider the area
In some parts of the country, such as ski areas or warmer regions where the snowbirds flock, winter can actually be a selling point, so use it to your advantage.