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There’s a misconception in the real estate space that homeowners should wait until the temperature rises to sell their home. While selling a home in December, January, or February has its challenges, it’s not an impossible feat.
Keep reading to learn how to sell your home in winter, whether you’re in the middle of the season or the bookending months.
Tips for selling your home in the winter
If you do need to sell your home in winter, there are easy ways to get around some of the roadblocks that you’ll hear winter home sellers and their real estate agents worry about.
1. Embrace good lighting
Because winter is a darker season and the sun sets quite early, you need to bring some light into your home to make it feel bright and welcoming. To make your home feel as light and bright as possible, clean all of your windows, open any curtains or blinds fully, and use bright light bulbs.
The lighting in your home is especially important if you still need to take listing photos, film a 3D tour, or host a virtual open house, as you’ll want your home to look as good as possible on film.
2. Keep things toasty
You don’t want any potential buyers to feel cold, uncomfortable, or unwelcome, so showings aren’t the time to skimp on heat. Your home will feel a whole lot homier if you keep the thermostat on at a decent temperature.
3. Share what your home is like year-round
When your real estate agent uploads your listing photos, try to include some photos from cheerier times of year. If you have photos of your landscaping looking stunning in the spring, summer, or fall, feel free to include those photos in your listing.
4. Give your home a good clean
No matter what season you plan to sell your home in, it’s important to give your home a good 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 a dirty home.
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.
5. Tread lightly with holiday decor
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 somewhat simple and understated so that buyers with different religious beliefs don’t feel too alienated. You should also avoid covering important parts of your home with decorations. For example, garland looks pretty on railings, but buyers will want to inspect your railings and can’t do so if greenery is in the way.
6. Stage your home with winter in mind
When the temperature drops, there’s no place anyone would rather be than home, so do your best to make your home feel warm and cozy. Potential buyers need to be able to picture themselves enjoying your home, even in the dead of winter. Light a candle with a seasonal scent like cinnamon and clove and add plush blankets and throw pillows to your couches. If you have a fireplace, turn that on too to really enhance the winter vibes of your home.
Do what you can to make your home feel like somewhere they’ll want to hole up in for months at a time.
7. Take safety precautions
While you may not spend much time outside when it snows, your open house attendees will want to check out your front and back yard, your garage, and any outbuildings you may have. To make it easier and safer for them to view the full scope of your home, make sure you remove snow from your driveway, paths, patios, and decks. Make it easy for potential buyers to move around your property.
8. Don’t sleep on curb appeal
You may not be able to get as creative with your landscaping when it’s icy cold outside, but you can keep your front yard nice and tidy. You really want to do as much as you can to enhance the curb appeal of your house as that’s the first impression potential buyers get when they arrive for an open house. Turn on your outdoor lighting, put away clutter like lawn tools, and remove any dead leaves or plants from your yard to keep it looking its best.
9. Be flexible when it comes to showings
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.
10. Embrace festive music
To give your home a friendly and festive feel, play some quiet classical music. You don’t need to blast Christmas carols (per our point earlier about being sensitive to different beliefs), but you can play some pretty tunes to enhance the ambience of your home.
11. Do seasonal maintenance
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.
- Get your furnace or HVAC system cleaned and inspected
- Use caulk and weather stripping to seal drafts from doors and windows
- Clear gutters and trim trees
- Check the roof for damage
- Book a chimney inspection
12. Offer wintery treats
Everyone likes to enjoy a treat in the midst of a busy day. A hot cup of apple cider, some spiced cookies, or even some candy for the little ones can go a long way to making home buyers feel more at home and can give them a bit of comfort and reprieve from the cold outside.
How the time of year can affect the home selling process
We hate to break it to you, but yes, 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:
- The buyer who needs to move for job relocation
- The buyer who wants their kids to start in a new school after the holidays
- The buyer who is looking for a better deal
- The buyer who sold their home and needs to find a new one
If you want to sell your home in the winter, you shouldn’t wait to sell it, but you should reset your expectations around 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.