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Much like selling a home in the Fall some advantages come with selling in the Winter. The biggest competitive advantage a seller has in the wintertime is less competition. Typically, there are far fewer homes for sale in the winter than at other times of the year. Most sellers will wait until early Spring to market their homes. The lack of inventory for sale benefits a seller as buyers have far fewer choices. Additionally, while winter is usually much slower for home sales, the buyers looking are almost always more serious especially in areas where the weather is inclement. Unless they are really serious about buying a home, it is doubtful a buyer will make a practice of going out and looking at homes in the snow and frigid temperatures.
Keep Your Home Warm–While you may want to minimize your home’s utility bills as winter temperatures plummet, keep in mind that you’re selling an experience when you‘re selling a home. Prospective buyers walking through your door should be able to imagine themselves living in your home–something that’s difficult to do if all they want to do is get back into their warm cars! Maintaining the house warm while you’re showing will create a better experience that may attract offers. Selling a home has a lot to do with emotional connections. Homebuyers will know if they like a place within the first five minutes of walking through the door. Making it easier for them to connect with your home is a smart move.
Remove Ice and Snow–If you live in an area where snow falls, and temperatures drop below freezing, you should make it a point to keep access to your house free and clear of these obstacles and safety hazards. Your walkways and doorways should remain clear of snow and ice, both because it looks better and because it allows buyers access to the interior. It is also important for aesthetic reasons–people like a well-kept exterior.
Keep the Exterior Clean–One wintertime issue is grime that accumulates on the house exterior due to the snow and ice. Your windows and your siding may have a noticeable layer of dirt on it that should be cleaned off before you show the house. You only get one first impression, so make it count by cleaning the exterior. Elegant curb-appeal is one of the top winter home selling tips to exercise with care.
Watch Out for Ice Dams–While many people love the almost magical look of winter time around a home with snow and cool looking icicle formations, these things can wreak havoc on our homes. One of the more common issues that can appear in cold winter climates is the formation of ice dams. Ice dams can form around the eaves and gutters of a roof causing tremendous damage. Ice dams can loosen shingles, tear off shingles, and force water into our homes. Water can cause damaged ceilings, peeling paint, ruined insulation and if you don’t address the problem right away mold! Fixing ice dam problems is something you will want to address right. There are not many things in a home purchase that will scare a buyer away faster than a water issue. As a Realtor®, one of the things I discuss with sellers all the time is how to prepare for the buyer’s home inspection. This is of primary importance because it is the largest hurdle to clear when selling a home. Many customers are scared to death of any water issues. Not only will you want to fix the ice dam itself but any water issues as a result of the dams.
Showcase the Fireplace–If you have a fireplace you should show it off to buyers. How you do this will depend on several things. If you have a gas fireplace, it is easy enough to start it up before a showing and add some ambiance to your family room area. However, a wood burning fireplace is not something you can just leave burning around the clock. You can set up the wood for a fire–at least demonstrating the potential for what the house will feel like with a warm and crackling fire. Talk with your real estate agent to determine the best way to do all of this.
Show in the Daytime, if Possible—While I never discourage a showing, daytime showings provide the best opportunity to showcase your home. Try to time the showings of your home for when the sun is still shining. It may take some effort to get buyers to your house before the workday ends, but there are obvious benefits to doing so. People can see how the house looks both inside and out and will be more likely to find it appealing because of this. Since you can’t control when people will want to look at your home it will make sense to have a well-lit exterior for the occasional showing past daylight hours. Take the time to make sure you have all the exterior lights turned on. If you have spotlights for the backyard or deck area, make sure these are turned on as well. Selling a home in the winter can be more challenging to show off your home’s exterior living areas, but it is well worth the effort.
Embrace the Season–The holiday season is one of the greatest advantages you have while selling in winter. While there are certain challenges presented by holidays and vacationing buyers, there is also a range of things you can do to tap into the energy that already exists due to the season. Sellers in wintertime often decide to decorate their homes for the holiday to draw buyers in. Decorations, lights, scents and even presents under the tree can all do great things for your sale. Many buyers will have families or be planning on having a family. Let them see how great your home is for throwing holiday parties and enjoying time with family and friends. It may be just the thing to attract an offer. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. While being festive and having holiday decor can set your home apart from others it can also become a major distraction when you cross the limits. Ask your real estate agent their opinion. Realtors go into tons of homes so they should have a good understanding of what is tasteful and what is “too much”.
No Shoes–One boundary that buyers may appreciate is the “no shoes” rule. Considering all of the slush and dirt that can be pulled in from outside, it only makes sense to have visitors remove their footwear before walking around in your home. You have already had the carpet cleaned in anticipation of your showings. The last thing you want is mud and dirt brought in from foot traffic. You can place a sign at the door letting visitors know that shoes should be removed before entering. Some people offer disposable slippers to wear while in the house. The slippers aren’t necessary but, it shows that you take pride in your home. Buyers appreciate this especially when they consider themselves living in your home.
Price it Right–Pricing a home correctly is one of the most important tips for selling a home but, it’s especially important when selling in the winter months. Depending on your area, the competition for selling a home may be less due to the winter season. However, this does not mean you should price your home excessively high. There are real risks that come with too high a price, including having your home remain on the market far too long to attract good offers. Work with your Realtor to set a fair price for your home that will attract offers right away. The sooner you sell your home, the better. Setting the right price is critical when you are in an area where winter time home selling activity decreases. The last thing you want to do is have your days on the market inflated heading into spring. This is just going to encourage buyers to make low-ball offers on your home. Something I am sure you will want to avoid at all costs! Monitor the days on the market carefully and try to understand when it is appropriate to reduce your home price. Again, your real estate agent should be a trusted adviser to consult with on this subject. So, call me at 973-670-1960 and I'll be happy to come over and help you with your winter home-sale!
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