Like with most industries winter can be a slow selling season for real estate. Most sellers tend to find winter more challenging to put their property on the market and close a deal quickly. Personally, I think winter is still a great time to sell especially if you live in a very competitive market. In fact we've staged several homes in the winter season with great success. That being said here are our insider tips to set your property apart and really shine during the winter market.
1. Remove holiday décor for listing photos.
While the holidays are a great time to decorate and create a cozy environment, you don't want to go overboard. Specifically, you don't want holiday décor up while listing photos are being taken of your home. Your online listing shouldn't reflect the season or any "season" at all. Plus if your home doesn't sell before the holiday season ends, then your listing photos will look dated. This can encourage buyers to put in lower offers because they know the home has been sitting on market for a while.
The majority of buyers see their new home for the first time on their phone or computer through pictures. The best real estate photos are well lit with little contrast. Christmas lights can upset the room's lighting for even the best photographer. Vivid colors jump off the photo and a bunch of holiday decorations in rooms can look cluttery in photos and distract the viewer from the features that make your home's value shine through.
All that being said it is okay to have some holiday décor in your home during a showing but use good judgment. Instead of very distinct holiday decorations opt for a winter vibe with winter foliage and more natural/rustic decorations placed strategically so that they can easily be put away before showings if needed. Turn up the cozy feel with textured throws and pillows. As for a tree same rules apply with the most important being to make sure the scale of the tree fits the room so you don't make your space appear smaller than it is. Pencil trees would be our suggestion if you just can't bring yourself to not have a tree up during the holidays.
Remember, no matter how gorgeous your holiday home décor is, a potential buyer is looking for space and room ultimately when buying your home, not your decorations.
2. Amp up your cleaning habits.
Making sure that your home is clean when you're trying to sell it should be an obvious step to selling your home. Come winter, the effort to keep your home clean will more than likely double. Cold weather means more time inside which increases dust accumulation. Winter weather also means more ice, salt, mud and more gear to deal with all of that.
In addition to your normal cleaning habits make sure you are dusting your fan blades more often, wiping down your cupboards, and keeping those floors clean. Try to create an area in the garage where you can corral your family's winter gear and keep mud and snow out of the house.
Make sure buyers are respecting your home and removing their snowy/muddy footwear before walking through your home. We always suggest putting up a sign and placing a good sized black indoor/outdoor entry mat down. Now there is room for buyers to walk in and take off shoes or put booties on while still remaining on the mat keeping all of that mess off your floors and rugs.
3. Keep it toasty inside.
Nothing gets potential buyers through your home quicker than a cold home in winter. If you're in a location where winter is cold like we are here in the Midwest, make sure the temperature in the home is comfortable. If you have a working fireplace turn that on too. Not only is that a nice selling feature, especially in winter, it also creates great ambiance.
4. Keep up curb appeal.
Curb appeal is the buyer's first impression of a home regardless of the season. In winter it is even more essential to make sure your yard is clear of leaves and have snow and ice removed from the driveway and walking areas. Make sure you are knocking down those icicles that accumulate on eaves and gutters This allows the potential buyers to see the home safely and without distraction. It also gives them a great first impression of how well the home is taken care of if things look tip top outside.
5. Check interior and exterior lighting.
This is something we suggest any time of year, but it is especially important in winter. Winter days go dark early, so you want to make sure all of your interior and exterior lights are working, the same color light (all warm or all cool), and are on. This gives a warm and inviting feeling, but also allows buyers to see and fall in love with your home.
6. Upgrade appliances and refresh dated items.
This is the season of sales, so now's the time to make the most of bargains. You will always get the most return on investment from kitchens and bathrooms so take a good look at those spaces and see what you could update reasonably.
Upgrade any outdated kitchen appliances to a stainless-steel package. Cabinets feeling a bit dated but don't have the funds for a remodel? No worries! Updating to satin nickel, stainless, or matte black pulls or knobs gives you a quick refresh for a little bit of cash. Switching out your lighting fixtures will give your home a nice refresh without breaking the bank as well. Stick to classic metals and a style that fits your home's style to make it look effortless and not stand out in a bad way.
Have a bit more budget to work with? Painting out walls to neutral tones not only refreshes your space but helps give those potential buyers that move in ready appearance everyone wants. Installing new carpet in bedrooms and vinyl plank flooring in common areas will also keep those buyers from submitting low offers. We only suggest this if the flooring is in really bad shape or is really dated otherwise a professional carpet cleaning and a good clean and polish of wood floors will do wonders.
Don't know where to start or want a set of professional eyes on your home to get you ready for listing? We offer market prep consultations, staging packages, and interior painting to help you get your home looking it's absolute best for market.
7. Make sure your home is available for tours
One last tip as you embark on selling during the winter: make sure your home is available to be viewed. Showing availability is so important during a slower market. There are generally less buyers searching for homes during a slow season, but those buyers looking are serious one. Making sure the home can be viewed when needed is super important.
Follow these easy steps and your home will be one step ahead when it hits the market!
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