Lush green foliage has faded to dull tones and there’s a chill in the air, but you’re motivated to sell your home despite it being winter.
If you’re in a four-seasons climate in the Northeast, you may face about 66% reduced sales activity from November to January due to the smaller pool of buyers in the off-season, according to seasonality data from the National Association of Realtors.
The possibility of added precipitation and inability to do certain home improvements such as roof repairs can also create hurdles.
But a winter home sale has its advantages. Fewer for-sale signs from your neighbors means the opportunity to have buyers’ undivided attention.
And the house hunters who book a showing are unlikely to be tire kickers. In fact, they may be skipping their turkey dinner or holiday shopping to see your house!
So embrace going against the grain and follow these 10 tips for selling your house in the winter. Come snow or darkness at 4 p.m., you can still attract a strong offer.
1. Stick to seasonal décor of cozy spirit
Selling close to the holidays bring staging challenges as many people will have their seasonal decorations on display. Your first question may be: Can I decorate this year, or should I rush to take my seasonal items down?
Top Chattanooga, Tennessee, real estate agent Sarah Brogdon suggests keeping your décor tasteful and neutral in nature, and to not overdo the holiday cheer.
However, she emphasizes that certain cozy elements with seasonal decorations and lights can actually add a positive look to your space.
In fact, 65% of top agents say adding the right touch of holiday cheer with decorations can actually help attract buyers.
Follow these tips to strike the right balance:
- Leave up your simple indoor and outdoor holiday lights for a cozy touch, and be sure to turn them on before showing.
- Try to refrain from flashy, blow-up decorations or over-the-top large decorations.
- Put away overtly religious items.
- Make sure your holiday decorations inside match your regular décor to avoid clashing design.
- Select a holiday tree that fits your space, so it doesn’t make the room feel crowded or small.
2. Hire an agent who doesn’t go on vacation each winter
Because winter tends to be slower for home sales, many real estate agents take the opportunity to go on vacation and take extended breaks during the winter months. However, with fewer buyers out shopping, it’s even more critical that you have a stellar agent by your side. Now is the time to double-down on marketing efforts and maximize exposure for your property listing, which agents are experts at doing.
Fortunately, companies like HomeLight have made the search for a real estate agent easy, even in the winter months. Tell us a little bit about your selling needs and we’ll provide introductions for up to three top real estate agents in your market who are actively taking clients and not taking their foot off the gas.
Because buyers are more motivated to buy in winter, there is actually a small premium price that they are willing to pay when you compare a similar sale in other times of the year.
- Sarah Brogdon Real Estate AgentCloseSarah Brogdon Real Estate Agent at Greater Downtown Realty Dba KeCurrently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 11
- Transactions 446
- Average Price Point $293k
- Single Family Homes 416
3. Price your home for the winter market
When selling in the winter, be careful not to undervalue your property. Often buyers in winter months are individuals with job relocations, or they want to capture the added tax benefit before the end of the year. In any case, they may be willing to put forth a strong offer to secure the house they want in time.
“Because buyers are more motivated to buy in winter, there is actually a small premium price that they are willing to pay when you compare a similar sale in other times of the year,” shares Brogdon.
You can start with a quick home value check from HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator. Simply enter your address and tell us a few details such as how much work your house needs and what type of home you’re selling. We’ll provide you with an instant estimate of home value in less than 2 minutes.
Follow up your home value estimate with your real estate agent’s comparative market analysis, which will take into account the selling price of nearby comparable properties, recent upgrades, location aspects such as school districts, and whether your home is on a quiet or busy street.
Brogdon adds that she is always an advocate for pricing the home as the market suggests, and to trust your real estate professional on how to price your home appropriately.
4. Create winter curb appeal
Don’t discredit curb appeal when selling your home, even in the winter months, as nearly 95% of top agents believe that excellent curb appeal translates to higher sale price. These projects will improve your exterior look and show you’ve taken care of maintenance in the colder months:
- Tidy up your landscaping to remove any remaining leaves from the lawn and window wells, and clean up brush surrounding your home.
- Clear gutters to avoid icicle formation. Knock down smaller icicles that form with a telescopic roof rake and drop roof melt tablets to unfreeze remaining ice. For larger icicles spanning more than an inch wide and foot long, call in a professional for assistance.
- Add winter-hardy plants such as these evergreen shrubs if you need additional dimension and color.
5. Adjust your marketing strategy
Selling a home in the winter may call for a different marketing strategy than what you’d normally do in the spring and summer months.
For one, try and take your listing photos before the leaves fall off the trees, before that blanket of snow covers your grass, and before setting up your annual Christmas tree or other decorations.
“These elements can often date your listing photos. If your home doesn’t sell super-fast, having these seasonal aspects in the pictures can be off-putting to buyers,” Brogdon says.
Winter is also a great time to show off any energy-efficient features your home may have to offer.
Buyers in the winter are more motivated to save on energy bills in colder months through sustainable practices. So, if your home has a well-insulated attic space, or a smart thermostat, be sure to call that out when marketing your property.
Finally, work with your real estate agent to increase your digital marketing. Advertise the home on Facebook and Instagram or host a virtual open house. These efforts will serve to capture buyers spending more time indoors and scrolling the internet for their perfect home.
6. Combat the cold with a warm, inviting space
Before showings, nudge up that thermostat a couple extra notches, ideally somewhere between 68 degrees and 72 degrees. Offer instructions to the showing agent on how to light the fireplace, and create a warm, and comfortable space that buyers will want to stay in.
Brogdon said adding some cozy elements to your home décor, like soft pillows and throw blankets in the living room, can add a homey aesthetic. She also recommends baking some cookies before the showing to create an instantly recognizable and wonderful aroma.
7. Plan your projects months in advance
If you know that you will be listing your home in the winter, think ahead about which projects would be best to tackle before it gets too treacherous outside.
Try to do some outdoor paint touch ups in the fall before you list. Remember paint often cannot dry in freezing conditions.
8. Clear walkways for a safe entrance
Throughout the period of showing your home, keep your driveway and walkways free of slippery leaves, snow, and ice. After you shovel or use the snow blower, apply salt for good measure, especially to areas that still look icy.
If the snow is falling on a day when you have multiple showings, keep up with the snow removal in between viewings to ensure each buyer has a clear walkway. Since buyers will likely be viewing the home when it is darker outside due to the earlier sunsets in winter months, be sure to leave your exterior lights on. Brogdon also recommends adding landscaping lights along your walkway.
The last thing you want is a buyer to get injured on the property.
9. Avoid damage to your floors
The winter season brings added precipitation and often a drippy mess at the front door. To combat this issue, utilize the following tips:
- Offer shoe covers for when potential buyers come to view the home. You can purchase a pack of 100 for around $12.
- Put down a sturdy doormat both outside and inside the front door.
- Consider adding an umbrella stand or coat hooks to give individuals viewing your home a clean space to leave their wet items.
Even with these elements in place, perspective buyers may still leave behind some unwanted salt residue or water on your flooring. If that happens, a guide from professional cleaning service Merry Maids recommends that you vacuum up the salt as soon as possible.
Then, for wood or tile floors, spray the affected area with a mixture of ⅓ cup distilled white vinegar and a gallon of water. Let the solution sit for 5 minutes and then clean it up with a microfiber mop or cloth to avoid damaging the floor further. (Be careful not to use vinegar on stone floors, however, to avoid permanent etching damage).
10. Keep up with winter maintenance
Winter may not be the best time to do major home renovations, but there are some small home improvements you can do that are winter-appropriate and can make a difference in the sale of your home. Brogdon offered some great, simple, and cost-effective tasks sellers can tackle in the winter to entice buyers:
- Replace any drafty weather stripping around your exterior doors.
- Seal around windows to reduce air leaks.
- Have your furnace serviced by an HVAC professional to make sure everything is running well.
- Add insulation if needed to ensure warmth and a cozy feeling in your space.
According to EnergyStar, nine out of 10 homes in the United States are under-insulated. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation are two of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home energy efficiency.
11. Don’t go overboard with scents
It can be tempting to want to make your home smell of pine or warming spice for winter charm, but sometimes this kind of smell can be overpowering to buyers.
Especially in the winter months when it isn’t as easy to air out your space for a fresh feeling, it’s important not to over-do it with strong aromas.
If you can’t open windows to air out last night’s dinner, use baking soda or citrus scented cleaners to neutralize the smell. Also remember to take out the trash before any showings.
Keep your home scent simple. Feature only one scent throughout the home, and it shouldn’t be overpowering.
Consider brewing a pot of fresh coffee before showings. This subtle, familiar, and cozy scent will make buyers feel at home in your space.
Now go forth with your winter sale!
We hope you found these top 10 tips for selling your home in the winter encouraging, helpful, and motivating. If you think ahead, adjust your curb appeal and holiday décor, and remember the added precipitation challenges winter can bring, selling your home in the colder months can be rewarding.
Header Image Source: (Adrianna Kaczmarek / Unsplash)