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Baby It's Cold Outside. Selling Your Home in the Winter.
Dated: December 4 2019
Winter is here! Well, at least the cold and snow, which brings about a different list of things to do when prepping your house for the market. Historically, the most popular time to sell is in the spring, as sellers like to have trees and shrubs in bloom to give would be buyers the best idea of what their property could look like when they purchase. But even so, buyers do still purchase homes in the colder months.
One of the benefits of selling your house in the winter is that there are fewer homes on the market and with fewer homes, you have less competition, which may assist you in getting closer to your listed sale price. And because no one really wants to be out on those colder days unless they really have to, the potential of having window shoppers who are checking out your house for renovation and decorating ideas is also lessened. (Yes, that can really happen.)
Beginning outside, you will want to be sure to have all walkways leading to the house cleared of snow and ice. This includes any and all areas that would need to be accessed during a showing, such as, walkways to sheds and barns. Don't overlook clearing side and back door areas and gates leading to the backyard. If the house is vacant and you don't have a contractor for snow removal, be sure to have your listing agent change the house to "temporarily off the market" TOM status until which time you are able to ensure the safety of visitors from slipping and falling. Be sure to also remove any icicles on awnings and gutters. When the temperature increases, icicles tend to fall with very little notice and can potenially be dangerous.
To better be prepared for swift shifts in the weather pattern, you may want to consider leaving a bucket with a de-icer near the front and back doors so that visitors can help themselves during showings with precipitation. Consider using a material such as sand, fresh kitty litter or coffee grinds as opposed to salt, as they tend to be better for the enviornment and our four-legged friends, though anything you leave out will be appreciated.
Be certain to check that all railings have been tightened and secured. When weather becomes inclement, people tend to really hold on to railings for support. Being sure that they have been maintained will help ensure visitors' safety.
On the inside of the house, leave a boot tray or mat near the entry for would be buyers to drop their wet wears. You may also want to leave shoe covers or booties and a towel near by to help ensure that interior floors remain dry. A runner in the foyer or hall may be helpful to ensure that hardwood or tile floors are not cold nor slippery. But don't completely cover the floors with rugs and carpeting, as it can give would be buyers question as to the condition of the floors underneath.
Since windows will not be open during the colder months, remove and store all screens to give a clearer view of the surrounding landscaping outdoors. It will also make the house look brighter on drearier days.
If the house is vacant, be sure to keep themostats at a minimum of 55 degress farenheit. This will ensure that the pipes don't freeze. Repairing frozen pipe damage can be extensive and costly. Having smart thermostats, such as the Nest can be extremely helpful in monitoring and adjusting the home's temperature based on scheduled showings. The Nest actually was a Godsend for my famly a few years ago.
While vacationing in the Dominican Republic over winter break, we received messages via our mobile devices that the temperature in the house was extremely low. We were able to turn the thermostats up remotely and call to have our daughter go by to check on the house. It turned out that one of our pipes had indeed frozen, but because we caught it early, the damage was minimal.
If you are no longer living in the home and prefer to minimize the energy costs, another alternative is to have the home winterized by a licensed plumber. This is a process of removing the water from the pipes to prevent freezing. But be mindful that this solution offers a less than desirable showing experience, as the house will be cold and there will be no water in the house for use of the facilities. Winterizing is more common in foreclosed homes than seller to buyer resales.
Looking on the other side of the thermostat, be sure not to have the temperature in the house too high. Vsitors tend not to remove outer garments while touring. If the house is uncomfortably warm, the potential buyer is more likely to rush the showing in order to get out. Keeping the house no higher than 70 degrees farenheit will leave your buyer comfortable enough to really take in the home's features.
If you live in the home and will be close by during the showing, having warmth emitting from a wood-burning stove or gas fireplace can assist in making potential buyers feel at home and comfortable. You can even light some scented candles and turn on some soft music (Bossa Nova is my showing favorite) to offer a more welcomg experience.
WARNING: DO NOT USE HEAVILY SCENTED CANDLES AS THEY CAN BE IRRITATING AND TRIGGER ALLERGIES. I like using oil burners or scented soy wax sprinkles like Pink Zebra products. They are safe, have a soft scent and offer a variety of decorative burners.
Speaking of irritants and allergies, the changing season also brings about sneezing and runny noses. In addition to the seasonal decorative pillows and cozy throws, you may also choose to display a nice tissue box on a console table in the foyer or in the kitchen and bathrooms (filled with tissue, of course), along with a hand sanitizing lotion to assist in minimizing your home's exposure to germs.
These are just a few things you can do to make your home more welcoming and safer during the winter months. "Baby It's Cold Outside". For a detailed personalized winter prep list for your home, call your local R2M Realty Agent. When you are ready to move, we are ready to help!
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