While spring may be home-buying season, sellers listing a property for sale in winter may be at an advantage.
It may be harder to convince homebuyers to go dashing through the snow for an open house in January, but there are ways to successfully sell a house during the colder months of the year.
For one, with fewer properties for sale in the winter, your well-staged home could stand out even more in a less crowded market. Be sure to consult with your real estate agent on the best approach to selling your home, but here are some ideas to help accentuate the season while making your house more appealing to prospective winter homebuyers.
1. Don't forget curb appeal
Achieving curb appeal in winter is more challenging than in spring or summer, when lush lawns and colorful flowers do the hard work. If you live where it snows, keep walkways and driveways clear. If you're in a rainy region, clean your gutters. Keep trees and shrubs pruned. Place a seasonal wreath and a fresh welcome mat on the front door to make it more inviting.
2. Keep holiday decor simple
Don't be afraid to tastefully decorate for the holiday season. A beautiful Christmas tree and tiny lights or garland throughout the house can help accentuate the beauty of the season and create a feeling of warmth and family — something potential buyers will appreciate. But don’t go overboard. You want buyers to see the house and its features, not just your holiday cheer. If you're not sure, hire a professional.
3. Make sure the house is well-lit
It's always important to open curtains and shutters to let natural light spill through. This is especially true during winter. Clean the windows and turn on lights in the house, even during the day. You never know when someone might look at your house. If it’s an overcast day, you want the rooms to be as bright as possible.
4. Take it easy on the scents
Appealing to the sense of smell can yield positive results. The aroma of an apple pie, chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon can entice home buyers and leave a positive association with your house. Again, don’t overdo it. A lightly scented candle is OK, but stay away from strong scents that can be negatives for some people.
5. Spark some ambiance
Homebuyers tend to love fireplaces. Hire a chimney sweep to give your chimney and fireplace a good cleaning. When real estate agents bring clients to your house, have a toasty fire going, or set up a candelabra or candle arrangement in the fireplace.
6. Keep it toasty warm
Start by hiring an HVAC contractor to tune up your heating unit — this will double as an opportunity to ensure it's in good working order. Keep the temperature at a comfortable level during the day when real estate agents and potential buyers might come to show the house. You don't want interested parties too cold to be able to take their time perusing your house.
7. Stage the house for winter
During winter, we tend to focus on warmth, togetherness and family. Staging the house for warmth can go a long way. Accessorize your living spaces with lots of throw pillows in thick, soft fabrics. Toss some throw blankets in complementary colors on the couch and chairs to make the room appear even more comfortable.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on November 25, 2014.
Have you sold a house during the winter? What was your strategy for success? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.