Home Selling In Winter: 10 Tips To Make Buyers Fall In Love With Your House

The good news about selling your home in the winter is you face far fewer competitors than you will come springtime. And, the home buyers who are looking right now tend to be serious. Why else would they be trampling around through rain, snow and mud to get to your front door?

So, now is the time to charm these buyers into falling in love with your cozy winter house. Here’s 10 home selling tips to help you sell your house no matter what the weather brings:

- Don’t bake your house. Real estate sites everywhere are advising home sellers to crank up the heat before a buyer comes over, so your home doesn’t feel like a refrigerator. Although you don’t want it to be freezing cold, you don’t want it to be toasty either. House hunters may be wearing winter wear and a too-warm house can make them leave just as fast as a too-cold one. Opt to keep the temperature a comfortable 65 degrees instead, which is perfect for someone touring your home wearing sweaters, thick socks, coats and jackets.

- Create a focal point for each room. The focal point is the first thing a home buyer sees when walking into a room. In the spring, summer and fall, this might be a beautiful view of your garden outside your windows — but in the winter, when the outside may look cold and grey, you can shift the focal point in every room to your interior. For example, your focal point can be a fireplace, a vase of yellow roses, or an art piece depicting a warm, tropical theme. What ever you choose, you can accentuate it even more by framing your focal point with contrasting colors or warm accent lighting. For example, let’s say the focal point in your bedroom is usually a big tree outside your window. In winter however, you can change that focal point by placing a beautiful tray on your bed with a shiny red tea pot, cups and saucers.

- Make your home feel festive. Bake some chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon rolls, put them on a decorative plate, provide paper napkins and put a little sign up saying, “Enjoy!” Not only will it fill your house with an evilly tempting aroma, it will uplift a buyer’s mood and make them remember your home. Many sellers know the trick of making a house smell as if something is freshly baked, but it’s great to take it to the next step and actually offer your house hunters a little treat.

- Take the majority of items off your countertops in your kitchen.
Yes, this may mean temporarily stashing your beloved coffeemaker, toaster, food processor, blender or crockpot. These appliances take up so much room and distract from the beauty of your kitchen. Opt instead for a wire basket of fruit, a display of gourmet olive oils and a cookbook, with the cover facing outward, showing a gorgeous meal. Even though you may never make this meal yourself, by association of having it on your countertop, it uplevels your kitchen into looking like the kind of place where gourmet meals like this are prepared.

- Set your table.
Put out two or four place settings with sparkling dishes, glass wear, and cloth napkins. It makes your dining room look even more inviting — as if it’s a bed and breakfast inn. I’ve heard, however, that sometimes silverware walks away, so it’s best not to show off your finest cutlery.

- Show off the spaciousness of your kitchen. If you’ve got room for a table and chairs, add them to the room and put a rug under the table to further define this separate “dining space.” Keep the table on the smaller size though, to emphasize the spaciousness of the room. If you don’t have a table present, house hunters won’t be able to visualize if there’s enough room in your kitchen.

- Make the interior cozy. Put a few throw blankets on the sofa along with some soft decorative pillows that will make house hunters want to plop down and make themselves at home. After all, that’s the essence of the entire game.

- Keep some warm, glowing interior and exterior house lights on a timer. Home buyers may take a ride past your place at night after work, so it’s smart to keep it looking good in the evening hours. This might make the difference between a house hunter scheduling an appointment to see it for the first time, or someone who has already seen it, deciding to take your home seriously. If your lights are on a timer you don’t have to worry about being home or not to make an attractive presentation.

- Add outside color. Install colorful shutters or window boxes outside your windows and plant some hardy winter flowers. That way, if your garden is looking a little grey and disheveled, a house hunter’s eyes will be drawn to the attractive, cheerful house itself.

- Keep a basket of paper booties by your home’s entryway
and ask people to please slip them on over their shoes. Buyers will appreciate that you care enough about your home (or their future home) that you want to take care of it for them.

You can read addition winter home selling tip in my previous post, “Home Selling Tip: Get Easy Winter Curb Appeal.”

Are you tired of not being able to sell your house? Do you need a lift? Check out Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them. Available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon.com and at http://www.homesellersblues.com.

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We put our house on the market in LA on Dec 20, 2011. Prior to that, we painted the interior and exterior, removed about 70% of our furniture and personal items, and finished a remodel project.

Since the timing of our listing was not ideal, my agent posted the date of the first open house (originally Jan 15, but moved up to Jan 8) at that same time the listing went up. This provided two levels of visibility – one as a new listing and the other as an upcoming open house. The next thing I did was send out an email to our neighborhood letting them know that we are being relocated and will be listing our house. We welcomed them to attend our open houses and of course, to pass on our info to any interested buyers they might know.

We had zero viewings the first two to three weeks our house was on the market, but then it picked up overnight – literally. Our first open house had over 50 attendees. My agent said she hasn’t seen anything like it in years. Our second open house the following week had over 30 attendees. On average, we have about 4 to 7 additional showings per week. My house is always available for showing – I’ve gotten out as early as 6:30 am so someone could see it at 7 am before they went to work. Similarly, I’ve stayed out until 8 or 9 at night so people could come by after work.

We got our first offer at about 20 days. Unfortunately, we were not able to come to agreement – the buyers felt it necessary to deduct $50K from our already low asking price so that they could put in a pool. Fortunately, at 50 days we are now getting an offer from new buyers who did some extensive work on comps (they called the selling and buying agents for the homes in our area that had sold recently). We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this set of negotiations will be more positive than the last. To help sweeten the deal, we are offering the buyer’s agent 4% to get the offer in and the entire deal closed in 35 business days. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Cara, congratulations on being a great home seller! The flexibility you show in terms of your willingness to open your home for a 7AM showing, remove 70% of the clutter, help market your home on your own, and your willingness to sweeten the terms, should serve as an inspiration to other home sellers. It sounds as if it might be paying off already with your latest offer. It does take a lot of flexibility these days to close a deal, but it’s worth it if you are truly ready to move on and start the next chapter in your life. A little flexibility up front can save you months and months of having to be flexible and reduce your price further later on.

Thanks for the great blog on tips on how to sell a home in winter. I own a We Buy Houses In North Carolina company. I’m sure some of your readers in NC would find our services useful in selling their home fast.

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