Seasonality in real estate can play a large part in how fast your home sells and how much it sells for. In an analysis of the best months to sell a home, ATTOM, a curator of real estate data, found the winter months (December through February) to be among the worst.1
If your home has gone cold on the winter market, you may be asking yourself, “Was selling my home in the winter a mistake?”
Not necessarily. In many parts of the country, things feel harder in the winter — there’s less daylight, bitter cold can make the outdoors uncomfortable, and snow and ice impede accessibility. As a home seller in this season, your job is to mitigate those obstacles for buyers and remind them of brighter times. If you’re selling your home this winter, follow these 13 tips to help buyers warm to your listing and make your home sale a breeze.
Hygge is a Danish term that encompasses a winter-positive mindset. It’s been linked to overall well-being, greater satisfaction, and positive feelings.2 While many have misattributed hygge as an excuse to buy lots of cozy blankets, it’s more about embracing the special parts of the winter months instead of dreading the bad parts.
For home sellers, this means highlighting the pieces of your home that you enjoy most in the winter. Do you have a fireplace that you like to bundle up next to? Have it roaring during open houses. What about a favorite family recipe for spiced cider? Put some on the stove before a house showing. These details will enable buyers to see themselves thriving in your home in the winter and beyond.
Winter brings some of the darkest days of the year, and for many, an accompanying sense of malaise or sadness. Drive the winter blues out of potential buyers by creating a warm, bright welcome — literally.
Clean all of your windows, open any curtains or blinds fully, and use warm-spectrum light bulbs. Not only will this help homebuyers see the features of your home, it will help create a sense of hygge that will make them want to curl up on the couch with a good book.
The lighting in your home is especially important for listing photos, film a 3D tour, or virtual open houses. Enlist the help of a home stager and professional real estate photographer or videographer to get the perfect lighting for your shots.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle or cost of real estate photography, work with Orchard. We cover your listing prep and home maintenance, saving you over $1,800. Get started with a free home valuation — our estimates are 30% more accurate than leading estimates.
Your home will feel a whole lot homier if you keep the heat on. Turn your thermostat to a temperature between 68 to 70 degrees to keep potential buyers warm during showings — this will ensure that buyers are warm but not hot, comfortable and not cold.
When your real estate agent uploads your listing photos, try to include some photos from all seasons. If you have photos of your landscaping looking stunning in the spring, summer, or fall, include those photos in your listing to give buyers an idea of your house year round.
No matter what season you plan to sell your home in, it’s important to deep clean before showings. That being said, having a clean home is even more important in winter when there’s harsher lighting that draws attention to dirt, grime, and clutter.
Don’t forget to clean up any water marks or salt stains on the floor and to wash any wet snow gear that causes odors to omit from coat closets.
Potential buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your home. As much as you may cherish your Christmas tree and holiday lights, buyers may not. You don’t have to forgo all of your holiday decorations, but keep them simple and understated so that buyers with different tastes and beliefs don’t feel too alienated. You should also avoid covering important parts of your home with decorations. For example, garland looks pretty on a hearth, but buyers might not be able to appreciate the finer details of it if it’s obscured by decorations.
When the temperature drops, there’s no place anyone would rather be than home. Potential buyers need to be able to picture themselves enjoying time indoors. Create the perfect indoor-appeal by:
Snow and ice removal are of critical importance while showing your home. Open house attendees will want to check out your front and back yard, your garage, and any outbuildings you may have. Make it easier and safer for them to view the full scope of your home, by removing snow and de-icing these places:
Your home’s curb appeal is the first impression for potential buyers, and it’s your first chance to create a sense of hygge. While you may not be able to get as creative with your landscaping when it’s icy cold outside, you can keep your front yard nice and tidy for a welcoming look.
Install or turn on outdoor lighting, hide away any clutter like children’s toys and yard clippings, and put out a welcome mat. If the ground hasn’t frozen yet, plant evergreen shrubs for a verdant (and low maintenance) impression. Most importantly, make sure the warmth of the inside of your home radiates out through windows, inviting buyers in.
Life happens, especially in the winter when weather and travel delays cause a lot of problems. You may need to be more flexible in the winter than in the summer if weather causes buyers to miss an open house. Consider allowing multiple showings or let your agent stop by with buyers if they express an interest in seeing your home.
If hosting flexible open houses sounds like a chore, consider working with Orchard. When you use our Move First service, we’ll help you buy a new house before selling so you can skip the showings. Once you’re moved into your new home, we’ll handle selling your old one — including managing flexible showings. Learn more about how Orchard works.
To give your home a friendly and festive feel, play some quiet music. You don’t need to blast carols (afterall, you want to be mindful of different tastes and beliefs), but a background beat can enhance the ambience of your home. Opt for a dinner party playlist or an upbeat classical album to keep things fun and unintrusive.
There are certain seasonal maintenance requirements when you live somewhere with cold winter weather. Before you open your home to buyers, take care of the following seasonal maintenance tasks. The last thing you want is for your furnace to stop working right before an open house or to make it to the inspection stage and discover an issue with your home.
→ Here’s a home winterization checklist
Everyone likes to enjoy a treat in the midst of a busy day. A hot cup of apple cider, some seasonal cookies, or even some candy can go a long way to making home buyers feel more at home. If you really want to go the extra mile, stamp or sticker your address onto paper cups and send potential buyers home with a warm drink so they can remember the warm feelings they had while viewing your home through the winter din.
It is often harder to sell your home in winter. The real estate market tends to pick up in the spring once the weather improves and the major winter holidays are over. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to sell a home in the winter. There will still be buyers on the hunt for a home and they may have no choice but to be less picky.
One of the reasons people discount winter as a good time to sell a home is because fewer potential buyers show up to open houses.
That’s true, but the poor weather that keeps some people home also helps weed out buyers who aren’t serious. In the winter, you’ll get fewer tourist drop-ins and families who attend open houses for fun — and that’s okay. A thinner crowd gives your real estate agent the chance to connect with the buyers who really are serious about their pursuit for a new home.
These are a few eager types of buyers to look out for:
If you want to sell your home in the winter, you shouldn’t wait to sell it, but reset your expectations about how many motivated buyers there will be. And if you're able to be patient, it's important not to underprice your home just because there are fewer visitors.
Give the buyers who do show up a chance to make an offer. There’s a good chance someone will, you just might not have a pile of competing offers waiting for you.
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