Winter is coming. Typically, residential real estate sales slow down over the winter months. The good news is there is still no shortage of buyers and less people are attempting to sell during winter months, making your place stand out a little more. There are some reasons for moving that are not always dictated by the weather, like new jobs, job transfers, and moving closer to loved ones in need. It doesn’t always have to be harder to sell in the winter. Use the cold weather to amp up the coziness of the your house so potential buyers have no trouble envisioning themselves living there. Follow these helpful tips for winter time selling.
Outside: Have your walkway and driveway scraped clean of snow and ice. An easy entry and exit in the car is a good feeling in the winter. Think of how sour the deal would go if the potential buyers got stuck spinning their tires in your driveway. Have as much cleared parking spaces as you can get, and clear a path all the way around the house, so guests can walk around the outside. Also, the walkways should be nice and clean at all times. It appears more welcoming and prevents the likelihood of someone having a slip. Have some salt or sand sprinkled down for extra traction.
Ice on the Roof: In the fall, be sure your eaves troughs are cleared of leaves and working properly. Remove any icicles over the walkway to prevent injury. An ice dam on your roof, or monster-sized icicles makes your house look like it’s got some internal issues going on (and it probably does if this is something that happens yearly). See my blog post on this topic if you have yearly ice dams that need to be remedied ( http://www.century21.ca/tom.mcevoy/blog/Why_do_I_have_Ice_on_my_Roof )
Structural Garden Interests: Add some structural components to your garden bed for year-round interest and curb appeal. You could plant perennial shrubs or ornamental grasses in the fall for something that lasts through the winter. Ornamental grasses, like karl foerster, are excellent options for the Quinte area that create movement and interest with their flexible, wheat coloured fronds. Too late to plant? A quick way to add plant structure is to poke some green or red dogwood branches into the garden bed in clusters. The clusters of twigs create the illusion of bushes and add colour against the white snow. Other easy options are garden ornaments like spheres, birdbaths, and sculptures. Keep your shrubberies pruned and shaped as well.
Decorate: Adorn your outdoor entrance with a decorative urn filled with evergreen boughs, twigs, and ribbon. Add some twinkle lights to the railings or door frame, and a seasonal wreath to the front door. You might think the lights are a tad cheesy but if turned on, they will create an inviting warmth that will draw your guests inside from the cold. Maybe you could even add an antique toboggan, skis, or snowshoes near the entryway for a some winter nostalgia.
Have a relentlessly clean, clutter-free indoor entrance: No salt stains, no sand, no wet mittens strewn about. You want zero clutter, dirt, coats, mittens, and footwear in sight where people come in. In the winter, people need an easy spot to hang coats and park wet boots. Stuff your own winter things neatly in the closet and have an empty coat rack, a chair, and an empty rubber mat for boots. Keep the space open too, as multiple people are coming in at once to remove footwear and coats. Make that feel easy to them. Minimize the risk of your guests getting wet socks with some one-size-fits-all slippers near the door.
Light a fire: As long as your house won’t fill with smoke when you do it, light a cozy, roaring fire and placate the idea of leaving the door open for some quaint crackling during the showing (keep it supervised if you chose to do this). Nothing says “cozy” like a good fire. This should go without saying, but have firewood neatly stacked, and remove all the mess you dragged in with the fire wood before the showing.
Turn up the Heat: Now that you have made your home appear warm and welcoming in the cold weather, don’t disappoint people with a cold indoor temperature. It makes the house seem like an empty shell and will make people keep their coats on, which will discourage lingering. Turn on the heat a few hours before showings to give it time to warm up. Also, turn the thermostat up a couple of extra degrees more to make your guests extra comfy, and reduces the likelihood of hearing the furnace turn on, which can be loud. Your guests are much more likely to linger if they feel nice and warm inside when it’s so cold outside. Lingering is good, which leads me to my next point.
The Smell: More and more people are becoming sensitive to perfumes and scents these days. It won’t go well if your potential buyer has an asthma attack from the plug-in air freshener, so avoid any man-made scents. Stick with scents from foods or essential oils to be safe. I have noticed some people have started scenting their house with a crock-pot simmering with good smelling things. This is good because the smells are enticing, warm, and natural. What I notice when people smell the crock pot is they open it and get disappointed when it is just for the scent and not for consuming. If you are turning the crock pot on, you might as well fill it with something consumable, like spiced cider, and place some disposable cups next to it for a clear indication that it is for them. Not only does it smell good, it gives people a warm, sweet treat on a cold day. All the more reason to linger in their potentially new house. ( http://www.food.com/recipe/hot-spiced-apple-cider-in-a-crock-pot-272557 )
Warm Touches: Drape a throw over a couch or a chair. Pull out your heavy quilts or wool blankets to fold at the feet of the beds. Use throw pillows and blankets with warm textures, like cable knitted accessories, mohair, wool, or other natural textiles. Natural fabrics are especially enticing and add visual interest and texture. Put rugs down on hard floors for a warm, cushy feel underfoot.
Enhance what makes the house special in the winter: What is your treasured winter activity? Cross country skiing or sledding? Have your skis near the back door to remind people that there's lots to do outside there, even in the winter. Have groomed trails throughout your acreage, and prune back snow covered, sagging branches to make an explorative winter walk of the property nice and easy. Stage your rooms to their best suited winter purposes. A reading nook could have an open hardcover book on a side table with a cashmere throw draped over the back of the chair. The dining room table could be set for a nice dinner. The door to the outdoor hot tub could have a couple of white robes and dry towels ready to go. The bathroom could have lavish bath products, sea sponges, and an open book.
Get the most out of your asking price (or more) with these tips. Your key words here are accessible, easy, clean, inviting, and warm.