From too-personal holiday decorations to black ice on your front walk, winter months can prove challenging for sellers.
Whether you’re listing your home for sale in Toronto, or Ottawa, the winter months can prove difficult for listing and showing your house. Between the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest, ice storms down South, and heavy snow in the Northeast and Midwest, just about every region of the country is affected by subpar weather during the winter.
And while everyone enjoys a good snow day, trying to attract buyers in dangerous conditions can melt your home’s chances of a sale quicker than Frosty the Snowman in a greenhouse. Here’s how to sell your house in the winter — from prelisting to closing — plus steps to take so you’re prepared if inclement winter weather strikes.
Appeal to the snow bunnies
Snow may be a hassle when you’re de-icing your car or taking out the dog at 6 a.m., but buyers often become snow worshipers when they see the words “within driving distance to ski slopes.” Even adding that a home is within walking distance to the grocery store or pharmacy can be a selling point if your area experiences heavy snow. Play up your home’s cold-weather allure by including information about how buyers will be able to take advantage of the season.
Capture photos from all seasons
Wouldn’t it be perfect if every open house occurred on a breezy, sunny, 75-degree day? If you can’t wait until springtime to list your home for sale, you can still help buyers visualize what your home looks like during all seasons.
Do you have a cherry tree in the front yard that’s absolutely beautiful during the spring, or an oak out back that turns magnificent colors in October? Be sure to include photos from every season in your home’s online listing and highlight each season’s best features.
Even if your home has been on the market since August, you’ll need to tailor the listing description for wintertime. Play up the amenities that are desirable during the winter: an attached garage, a new water heater or HVAC components, and skylights, for example.
Mentioning that your home is close to a gym or fitness center can also encourage buyers during winter months, when they’re less likely to be able to exercise outside (and more likely to be making New Year’s resolutions).
Price it right
Don’t ignore market trends during the winter. Work with your real estate agent to ensure that you’re not overpricing. Wintertime usually means fewer homes are on the market, and a properly priced home can lead to a bidding war between buyers, which can ultimately increase the price you get for your home. On the other hand, an overpriced home can sit for months and months on the market, which is not something you want when spring rolls around and your competition spikes.
Winterize your open house
Remember, potential buyers have battled wind, rain, and snow to arrive at your winter open house. Make sure your driveway, walkways, and front porch are clear of snow and ice, and the heat is on in your home. Set out a doormat so they can wipe their feet before entering — the attention to detail will show that you care about your house, which potential buyers will appreciate.
With the holidays just about over, you don’t want to overdo the decorations. Keep them minimal and tasteful. An inflatable Santa on the roof will be nothing but a distraction to buyers, and a 10-foot Christmas tree crammed into a living room with 9-foot ceilings is only going to make your room look puny.
However, it’s OK to spread some cheer tastefully. Set out some hot apple cider or tea for visitors to sip as they browse the rooms. Plus, the drink gives the entire house a welcoming, inviting smell, and it’s never a bad thing for your chilled, shivering buyers to linger in the kitchen before heading back into the cold.