Twelve Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter Months

Conventional wisdom says homes don’t sell in the winter, so it’s best to take your property off the market until spring.

Snow

What’s wrong with this winter scene? The steps and deck must be cleared of snow before prospective buyers arrive.

Baloney.

In today’s superheated Bay Area real estate market, eager homebuyers are on the lookout year-round. When other homes are temporarily off the market, yours will be the center of attention.

Winter presents unique opportunities for sellers, plus a few challenges — especially in areas like Tahoe/Truckee, where snow is on the ground for months on end. (More on that later.) Here are a dozen wintertime staging tips from real estate professionals and decorators:

Wash the windows. In the winter, strong southern light can reveal dirt and grime that might have gone unnoticed in the summer or fall. Wash all windows inside and out.

Keep the house bright. Open the drapes and blinds, and replace dim lightbulbs with bright, high-wattage bulbs. Turn on every light in the house — even those in closets.

Think warm and cozy. Turn up the thermostat a few degrees, and place candles strategically throughout the house (even unlit, they convey warmth). Drape a cozy blanket on the sofa, and turn down the comforter in the master bedroom.

Keep a fire burning in the fireplace. If you have a working fireplace, this is the time of the year to show it off. Light a fire, but open the damper, place a grate in front of it, and don’t leave it unattended for very long.

Showcase rooms that will be popular in winter. Dens, recreation rooms, indoor exercise areas, and heated toolsheds will be especially popular when the temperature drops.

Pay attention to outdoor spaces, too. Does your home have an outdoor deck? Make it look inviting: Keep the area fully furnished, and turn on outdoor lights. If you have an outdoor fireplace, build a fire.

Pay attention to curb appeal. Keep the yard tidy and rake any leaves on the ground.

Decorate for the holidays. Festive lights, wreaths, and a decorated tree make your home even more inviting in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Simple wreaths and pine boughs can remain until spring, but take down other decorations by the first week of the new year.

Keep the lights on. Prospective buyers may drive by for a quick look when you’re away. Put timers on indoor and outdoor lights so they will see a bright and inviting home.

Highlight winter-positive features. Is your home close to public transportation or main thoroughfares? Those are big pluses during cold or rainy weather.

Have photos available without snow. Display photos of how your property looks in summer, when trees are full of leaves, flowers are in bloom, and there’s no snow to obstruct your landscaping efforts.

Remove snow from walkways, steps, and decks. If you’re selling a home in Tahoe/Truckee or other snowy regions, it’s essential that all walkways, steps, and decks are free of snow. It’s not just a safety issue; neatly shoveled paths make the home more attractive and suggest that the owner has been equally attentive to the home’s maintenance needs.

(Photo: Flickr/Wawoe Global)

 

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