Do you have a home you’re trying to sell, and you’re worried about running out of warm weather it show it in? Perhaps your job is relocating you to another area, and you need to get your house sold before spring to stay ahead. Whatever the case for you, if you’re selling a home this winter, you’ve come to the right place.
You may be the type of person who loves cozy winter weather. Or maybe all you can think about during the winter is staying indoors and finding solutions for pain management. But regardless of how you feel about the wintertime, you probably don’t see it as the ideal time of year to sell a home.
However, nothing could be farther from the truth. While wintertime isn’t the traditional home-selling season, putting your house on the market during the colder months can actually come with some advantages. And with the right winter preparation tips, you can set yourself up to get your house sold in no time.
From re-roofing your home in the fall to staging it for your first prospects, keep reading to learn all about winter preparation tips for making a home sale.
Why Wintertime is Great for Home Sales
Before we share our best winter preparation tips to get your home ready to sell, let’s explore some of the benefits of selling your home during the winter.
Buyers Have More Time Off
When you take into consideration the busy holiday season going on during the winter, it probably seems like no one will have time to check out your house. While it’s true that some people have particularly full schedules during the winter months, it’s also true that they usually have more time off work. For families looking to buy a new home, that means lots of time spent browsing real estate websites, imagining living and celebrating in their new home, and even scheduling visits to see houses they like. With the right mindset, you can take advantage of this, instead of letting the winter season seem like a negative thing.
Winter Buyers are in a Hurry
Although people often have more spare time during the winter, that doesn’t mean they want to spend it looking at homes. In fact, people looking at houses to buy in the winter are usually in a hurry to find a new place. This is because wintertime buyers are usually home shopping because work or life circumstances are forcing them to. If you put your house on the market around the Christmas season, chances are you’ll get several calls from people who are desperate to find a home before the winter ends.
Fewer Sellers Means Less Competition
If you thought selling your home during the winter was a bad idea, you probably also realize that most other homeowners think the same thing. The market will be flooded with new homes for sale around spring, but for now, your home will be like a big fish in a tiny pond. This means buyers will have fewer homes to choose from, which only increases the odds in your favor as a seller.
The Internet Knows No Seasons
The primary way modern home shoppers look for houses to buy is over the internet. And fortunately, the internet has no seasons — it’s just as available and convenient in the harsh cold as it is during the busy summer housing market. From high-resolution photos to video tours and 3D experiences, modern technology has made it easy to buy and sell properties at any time of year.
Buyers Want Tax Breaks Before the New Year
There’s another motivator for homebuyers to act quickly in the winter: by purchasing a new home before the new year begins, new homeowners can capture tax benefits by writing off some of their home buying expenses on their taxes. There are also tax benefits of owning a home that new and prospective buyers may like to take advantage of.
Quite often, a homeowner can count things like mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and private mortgage insurance premiums as tax-deductible. These benefits can incentivize potential home buyers to get a house bought and closed before the new year begins. And these benefits can be extended to you as well: if you sell your home and buy another just before the year ends, you could enter the new year with tax breaks as well.
Advice for Selling Your Home This Winter
People don’t usually think about putting their home on the market during the winter months. But as you’ve already seen, that’s no reason why it can’t be done. With the right tips and advice, you can get a sale at any time of year. Maybe you plan to sell your home as-is, or perhaps you intend to make improvements with things like garage door financing. Either way, use these winter preparation tips to sell your home during the colder seasons.
Clear Away the Snow
This goes without saying, but if you live in a cold climate and there’s snow on the ground, you’d better clear a path to your house. Even if it’s still snowing on evenings that you’re showing your home, it’s best to get a path clear, and then return periodically to clear away new snow. Snowdrifts can hide visual cues, like a step down, potentially causing visitors to trip and get seriously hurt.
Footprints over fresh snow will turn into ice if it’s cold enough, so you should sprinkle some salt or sand over them after the prospective buyers leave. You should also have a rubber mat by the front door, as well as a container to hold wet umbrellas or shoes.
Finally, it’s worth noting that you should wait for a clear, snow-free day to photograph the outside of your house. True, there are few things more beautiful than a winter wonderland, but snow banks hide what your home really looks like. It’s okay to have one or two photos with the snow, but the rest of them should clearly show the details of your home.
Light Up Your Home
During the dark winter days, it’s critical that you have as much light flooding your house as possible when you stage it for showing. Washing the windows and opening the blinds are must-do chores if you’re showing your house in the morning or afternoon. Every light in the house should be turned on when prospects arrive, including closet and appliance lights. In particularly dreary rooms, you should consider placing spotlights on the floor behind some of the furniture.
Clean and Declutter
This applies in any season, but all that light is going to highlight some dust and clutter if you don’t get your house in perfect order. Cobwebs should be removed, every flat surface should be well-dusted (including ceiling fans and light fixtures), and chrome surfaces should be polished. Bathrooms should be immaculate, and any dingy grout should be bleached. If needed, now would also be a good time to re-caulk tubs, showers, and sinks. You should also clean the refrigerator and other appliances, especially if they’re staying in the house.
During the period that you’re showing your home, you’ll want to vacuum and empty trash bins every single day. But perhaps most important of all, you’ll want to eliminate any personal clutter. If buyers see a lot of your stuff crammed in every corner and on every shelf, it will be difficult for them to imagine living there. You want to make it easy for them to see the home as theirs.
Turn Up the Thermostat
You don’t want your house to be so warm that visiting buyers are suffocating, but it should probably be kept a little warmer than usual. This is especially the case if a lot of people are going in and out during the day, allowing much of the warm air to escape outside. The interior temperature should be comfortable so that buyers are tempted to linger.
A good strategy is to heat the house a few degrees warmer than usual just before a showing. Then set the thermostat back to normal when they arrive, to prevent the heating system from turning on while the house is being shown. This is a good idea since HVAC systems tend to be noisy.
Winter Preparation Tips for Your Home
Whether you’re putting your home on the market this winter or not, there are some winter preparation tips you need to keep your home in good condition. And if you are planning to sell before the spring, winterizing your home is even more important than usual. You should also make any last-minute repairs and upgrades, such as investing in silicone and SPF roof systems before it gets too cold. Here we’ll list some of the most important winter preparation tips to use every year.
Take Care of Any Last-Minute Repairs Early
An essential part of preparing your home for winter is making any small repairs before the cold weather hits. After an entire summer of fun in the sun, you probably need things like window screen repair. And even if you don’t care whether these small repairs are taken care of now or later, if you’re planning to sell your home, you should make them right away.
If there’s another month or two of fall weather left, you’re in luck. Now’s the perfect time to call in your local roofing contractor to inspect your roof and make sure it’s ready to handle the oncoming winter weather.
You should also pay some attention to the siding on your house. The siding plays a big role in defining the outside appearance of your house, and curb appeal are important when you want to sell. It might be too late in the year to paint, and full siding replacement might be outside of your budget, but you might be able to use a pressure washer to make it look a little better. And of course, you should call in your local siding services if the siding saw any damage over the summer.
Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal
Again, the outside appearance of your home is important to prospective buyers, even during the winter. Fortunately, that means homeowners can expect almost a 100% return on investment when they spend money to enhance their home’s curb appeal.
Just because it’s too cold to focus on things like landscaping or planting flowers doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your home’s curb appeal. Your yard may need some tree pruning, especially if you have tree branches brushing your walls and windows, which could cause problems when they get covered in ice. If you have some beautiful evergreen trees or bushes in your yard, these are especially important to trim, since they will really stand out during winter weather.
Other ways to increase curb appeal include painting your front door; installing more attractive light fixtures; replacing your mailbox; and raking up and disposing of leaves. If you’re nearing Christmastime, you might also consider decorating, although you should be sure to go minimalist to avoid looking over-the-top.
Inspect Your Heating and Air Conditioning System
This is one of the more important winter preparation tips. Most heating and air systems should last around 12 to 15 years, but only if they’re properly maintained during that time. Since you’re selling your home, you need to be confident that your HVAC system is in good working order.
First of all, you will want to change your air filters, preferably before the cold weather starts. Next, you should strongly consider hiring an HVAC contractor to inspect your system. If nothing else you should test your heater to make sure it’s working properly. The last thing you want is to turn it on during the first cold day of the season, only to realize that it’s in need of repairs.
This is also a good time to inspect your hot water heater. If your system is getting to be around 10 years old, you might want to see about getting new water heater installation before you put your house on the market.
Seal Your Home’s Masonry and Hard Surfaces
For the last of our winter preparation tips, make sure outdoor surfaces and living areas are ready for the cold weather. If you have concrete paving in your yard, such as a patio or walkway, you’ll want to apply a concrete sealer to them to prevent cracks. If any cracks have developed over the previous year, these should be filled in before you apply the coating.
While you’re outdoors, make sure any patio or outdoor furniture is covered. If you have a custom dock with furniture on it, you should put them into a shed to prevent them from blowing away in heavy winter winds.
Between the advantages of selling your home in the winter and the winter preparation tips listed here, you can see that any time of year can be a great time to sell your house. Hopefully, you now have not only the winter preparation tips, but also the confidence to put your home on the market and get it sold.