Once you’ve made the decision to sell your house, the next step is determining when you're going to list it for sale.
While most people tend to wait until the peak selling seasons of spring or fall, it's worth considering the benefits of selling a house in the winter. We're going start with tips to make the most of showing your home.
1. No Need for Landscaping - Let Your Interior Shine!
Regardless of the time of year, you need to be concerned with how it looks. Inside your house, focus your time staging each room in an effort to increase its value before you list it. The goal is to list a home that buyers can imagine themselves living in.
Fortunately, the exterior of your house isn't as much of a concern at this time of year. With your lawns and garden under a blanket of snow, potential buyers visiting your home won’t focus on these elements as much. If you're unable or unwilling to invest some time and money into improving your landscaping, this can be an advantage. That's not to say that you don't need to spruce up the front of your home, though! Something as easy as clearing your deck or patio of snow will help potential buyers picture enjoying their summer BBQ parties on it.
This video has a few tips on what you can do to make a great impression as buyers walk up the front steps (like keeping the pathways clear!), plus a few things to remember inside your home.
2. You Can 'Cozy Up' Your Home
During the summer, potential buyers see your home differently than they do during winter. When the weather's cold outside you have a great opportunity to turn up the heat, and make your home feel more inviting. Lighting a sweet smelling candle may seem like a small step, but it can change the entire mood of your home and make it memorable.
This has a practical side too - it shows potential buyers that your heating system works well and there are no leaks letting the cold in, so they know they won't get any nasty surprises later on.
3. Chase Away the Dark
It's true; in Edmonton, the sun sets before 5:00 pm. So it's essential to take steps to lighten and brighten your home for winter showings. Make sure your lamps and lighting are all bright and warm-toned, check for any burnt-out bulbs and replace them right away! Open blinds/curtains to let in as much natural light as possible, and be sure your windows are clean.
4. Be Prepared for Wet Shoes
Your front door will be a high traffic area that could leave a bad impression if puddles of water make potential buyers' socks wet. Solve this issue by placing welcome mats both outside and inside your home. Then, stop by the dollar store and get a few pairs of cheap slippers for the people who are considering buying your home. When they come in to tour, they have a place to put their wet footwear and slippers to slide on so they don't feel awkward walking around in their socks.
5. Seasonal Decor?
No one expects your home to be without holiday decor in December! However, you can opt for modest and neutral accessories, such as installing white lights rather than multi-coloured on your home. Also, consider not completely covering the mantle with great-aunt Martha's Christmas collectables.
However, when the calendar switches over to January, get your seasonal decor packed up and put away.
Now that we've covered some tips and ideas on how you can do a great job of selling your home in the winter, it's time to turn our focus to the benefits of doing so!
1. Less Competition Could Mean A Faster Sale
Let’s start with the most obvious advantage - there are fewer homes on the market. In fact, many people sell their home in winter for this very reason. The housing market can become flooded with homes of all types during the peak selling seasons of Spring and Fall, making it difficult for your home to be noticed.
If you know your current house is a “fixer-upper” selling it in the winter increases the chances of selling it faster at the price you want because there are fewer listings for buyers to choose from.
2. More Serious Buyers Out There
While it's true that there will be fewer buyers during the winter months to view your home, this can still be an advantage.
Those looking to purchase a home in the winter months are typically more serious about buying. Unlike the “baseboard kickers” during peak selling season who aren’t totally committed, winter brings more focused buyers. Let’s face it; if you are going out to tour a home when it's -20 degrees outside, then you must be serious about buying something!
And speaking of more serious buyers...
3. There's No Winter on the Internet
Today, the majority of home buyers do most of their research online, before viewing houses. You can make the most of this by ensuring your online listing is effectively promoting your home. The buyers who are shopping during the winter want as much information as possible before they come view your home. Adding summer images to your listing can also help you stand out among a sea of white-covered houses.
4. You Have (More of) Your Agent's Attention
During the winter months, real estate agents are able to focus on their clients a bit more than usual. A slower market means they're holding fewer open houses and showing fewer homes. This means they have more time to ensure your home is getting as much attention as possible, as well as providing more time to advising you through the home buying process.
5. Tax Returns Help With Down Payments
There are few times during the year when households receive a lump sum of money - hence why those that know they're receiving a tax return love that time of year! While personal income taxes must be filed by the end of April, many home buyers will file early in order to get their return sooner.
These tax returns can increase the amount a homeowner can contribute towards a down payment. In some cases, this may be what brings them over the financial hump and commits them to buying a home.
So don’t be quick to rule out selling your home in the winter, as it provides some advantages you won’t find during the rest of the year.
Selling your home at any time is a big deal. For more tips on getting it done right, check out our post on the six common mistakes homeowners make when selling their home. Taking steps to avoid common mistakes can help make the process run more smoothly, whenever you decide to put your house on the market.
Originally posted February 3, 2017, updated December 4, 2018.