Are you thinking about selling your home this winter? The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the slowest time of year for the real estate market. But, the minute the holidays are over – our phones start ringing as people begin thinking about the new year and their new plans. Here’s some advice to help you make the most of the winter real estate market.
Photos are important
If you have photos from another season – before the trees became barren and the landscaping went brown, that would be great. If you missed that window – try and capture a snowy day. It never hurts to have your home looking like a winter wonderland.
Less is more on holiday décor
Don’t go overboard on the holiday decorations. This is really a great time of year to show off your home. Tastefully decorated homes can be so inviting. But we want the buyers to look at the house, not room after room of personal holiday/winter decorations. And we’re adverse to anything that clutters up rooms and makes them look smaller than they actually are.
Don’t forget curb appeal
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can let things slide out front. Potential buyers won’t give you a pass on chipping paint, a fence that needs repair, or a front door that’s seen better days just because it’s cold.
Safety is a big winter issue
If it snows and a showing is scheduled, make sure to shovel your walk and driveway. You may need to use some calcium or salt to keep ice away. You don’t want visitors falling or tromping through snow drifts.
Put a small indoor mat by the front door
Most buyers and agents are thoughtful and realize their shoes are wet. They don’t want to track footprints or salt crystals all over your hardwood floor. Give them a place to wipe their feet and/or leave their shoes.
Keep the heat on – even if your house is now vacant
When it is freezing outside – would you want to take your time looking at a house where the thermostat is set at 50 degrees? Or in the warm, toasty 70 degree house? This is a no-brainer – if your house is freezing, the buyers won’t stick around very long. And on this subject, if you have moved on and the house is vacant, please consider winterizing. You won’t believe how many frozen pipe stories we’ve heard and how much damage can be done in a short amount of time.
Light it up
Ah, we don’t love showing houses in the dark. And starting in November, dark begins around 5:00 p.m. Make sure all of your exterior lights are on. Turn on all the interior lights so agents and buyers aren’t stumbling around looking for light switches. Change bulbs as needed and consider kicking up the wattage if you’ve been using low watt bulbs.
Will you be able to command top dollar for your home and get the same price you would have had you listed in spring or summer? That depends on so many things, including your neighborhood, the available inventory, the condition of your home, and most of all…your listing price.
When it comes to offers, remember this tidbit from Realtor.com: “Just because your home’s on the market during the chilly months doesn’t mean you have to accept a lowball offer. If you make your home attractive in all the right ways, qualified buyers will come.”