Be cool: Sell during winter

Posted by on December 2nd, 2015


So, are you waiting until spring to put your home on the market?

Is it because you crave manic competition with all the other sellers thinking the same thing?

Many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their home on the market for the first time. Others who already have their home on the market decide to take it off the market until after the holidays.

One of the best kept secrets in the real estate market is that there is no “best time of year” to sell.

Don’t try to time the market – it’s impossible. Real estate is so cyclical – especially in today’s economy. Up and down, down and up. Try to wait for the perfect time, and you might miss out.

It’s a matter of time

Realtor Magazine recently reported that fall and winter months may be the best time to purchase a home as the job market continues to warm and home prices stabilize.

First, there is less competition during the winter months. Purchasers that are looking for a home during the holidays are more likely to be serious, and if they have kids, they want them to get into school right after the holidays.

Homes generally show better when you have them cleaned and decorated for the holidays. If not, buyers will respect restrictions on times you want it shown. You will remain in control.

In many parts of the country, new construction is promising to make a comeback in 2016. This could reduce demand for your home when spring and summer roll around.

See the light:

It’s true, when it is cold out, buyers get a little frostier.

There’s less sunlight in the fall and winter, so leave lights on for showings, especially in kitchens and baths. Clean the windows, up the wattage in your lightbulbs and cut the bushes in front of the house. Anything that lets in more light will increase your own well-being, and make the house more sellable.

The heavy, blackout draperies of the 1970s and 80s are out. Instead of living in a dark cave, take down grandma’s curtains and replace them with lighter, and lighter-colored, window treatments.

When your curtains are open the full window will be exposed, maximizing the amount of natural light entering the room.

If you don’t require as much privacy, you can even try sheers to let in light even with the drapes closed.

When ditching heavy drapes you lose a lot of the benefit of moderating temperature – blocking the sun in the summer and trapping warmth during the winter. Keep the heat at a reasonable temperature during showings. Adding more insulation in the attic will help.

Play the room

Play up the amount of usable storage in your home to help make the sale. It’s natural, especially during winter, to have a little clutter around the house. For sales purposes, make sure to stash coats and other winter gear away.

One quick cleanup trick is to put laundry baskets in each room. If there is a surprise showing, you can do a 10-minute pickup of major items, and have designated places to stash the full baskets.

If you have an unenclosed staircase, even one leading to the basement, it’s not a difficult carpentry job to enclose it. The added storage space can become a storage pantry or for dry goods.

Show off your attic space. Clean it up a little, and add an inexpensive pulldown staircase for access if the house didn’t come with one.

Put some of your items in professional storage, so potential buyers can get an idea of the amount of Christmas decorations that can fit in cubbies and closets.

Storage is something people don’t always think about. Make sure your potential buyers see how your house’s extra room can be used efficiently and effectively.

Get the right help

Real estate and mortgage professionals, who likely work like crazy during the traditional summer vacation season, also need time off. They’ll normally set their vacations for November and December, too.

But not all. There are some who work during these months, because they know other people have holiday vacation time they can devote to house-hunting.

Some get a lot of business done because the people out buying and the people selling are dead serious. Brokers and agents typically have more time to focus on individuals, rather than juggling multiple clients.

An agent with more time on his or her hands might be just the thing to get buyers into your price range.

In your kitchen

Last but not least, don’t forget to spruce up your kitchen.

We spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitche, and it makes loads of difference to a buyer what the kitchen looks like.

If you can afford only one new stainless steel appliance, do it, it’s better than nothing at all. If buyers see one expensive appliance, they will assume the other appliances are expensive, as well, as long as they are well-maintained.

Even something as simple as adding a fresh coat of white or light-colored paint helps brighten any room and buyer spirits.

Welcome home

Play up the community aspects of your neighborhood wherever you can.

Tell buyers about parks, stores, schools, restaurants, freeway access and other amenities. Draw maps and provide pictures to all the best spots if you can – be sure to point out places a particular buyer might find interesting. For example, if the buyer mentions pets, tell them about the groomer just around the corner!

Put out a nice welcome mat for buyers and agents to wipe their feet – maybe even provide a place to take off shoes, or plastic booties to slip over shoes. Keep the driveway and sidewalks clear of snow and slush.

Make sure to open the windows for an occasional airing. Run the fans after cooking meal and use the exhaust fans in the bathrooms after every bath and shower.

Winter decorations can make your home seem cozy and inviting. Bake fresh cookies and serve cider or coffee to bring out warmth.

Bring out the best in your home by showing buyers that this is a great place to make pleasant memories