Preparing for a good winter showing
Houses don’t typically sell well in the winter. Chilly weather discourages buyers from looking, and dull winter light can make even the best homes look dreary. However, if you are compelled to sell over winter, there are some strategies to showcase your home with a warm ambiance. Here are a few tips to get buyers to brave the cold and take a look.
Keep pathways clear
Plan on being ultra-diligent about keeping snow at bay, keeping the walkway to the door shoveled and ice-free. Even if it is snowing before a scheduled showing, scrape the walk and sprinkle de-icer. If guests are parking on the street, make sure there is a clear path from the road to the sidewalk. An entryway that has a large mat to wipe feet, a container to hold umbrellas, and an indoor bench to take off wet shoes is a good idea.
Bring in the light
Open up blinds and curtains to let as much daylight in as possible. Turn on lights in every room, including overhead lights and lamps, plus lights on appliances and inside walk-in closets. If you have some dimly lit rooms, consider purchasing a couple of lamps. You can also hide up lights behind furniture or plants to further brighten dark spaces. Tip: when choosing bulbs, use “warm white” instead of “daylight”. The bluish color spectrum of daylight bulbs casts a harsher light.
Spring clean even though its winter
Washing windows does enhance the light coming in. It’s also important to thoroughly clean, wiping away cobwebs, dusting furniture and polishing fixtures and mirrors. Don’t forget to look up- clean ceiling fan blades and inside light fixtures. Bleach any dingy grout in the kitchen or bath and re-caulk around sinks and tubs if necessary. Clean out the fridge and organize cabinets- people will look! Keep floors sparkling and vacuum daily. People may notice odors from trash more readily in a closed up house, so make sure to empty trash and recycling daily.
Many of us conserve heat during the winter. On house showing days, make sure the temperature inside is comfortable, and set early so that it is not just kicking in when guests arrive. You want potential buyers to feel cozy and linger when coming in from the cold.
If you have a fireplace, lay out an attractive set of logs. If your realtor will be present, discuss whether you should light the fire ahead of time. Just make sure to protect it with a screen and return after the showing so that the fire is not left unattended.
Amp up the ambiance
There are few ways you can make a room cozy and inviting. One is with texture. Drape a soft blanket over the arm of a couch and add a couple of decorative pillows. Set the dining room table with a charger or placemat, plates, silverware and glasses, adding a seasonal centerpiece. Drape another cozy blanket over the corner of your neatly made bed and add a breakfast tray. Don’t forget about rooms like the family room and bathroom. A bathroom can be transformed with a two plush spa robes hanging by the door and a nice arrangement of towels, guest soaps and lotions. But you don’t have to figure out how to add these designer touches. Go on line to websites like House Beautiful or HGTV and see how they have staged different rooms, then duplicate the look on a budget. If you can carve out a little extra space in a closet, stow away staging items in bins by room. This makes it quick and easy to pull out before buyers arrive.
Bring life into the house by placing a vase of fresh flowers in a prominent place that can be seen as people arrive.
Turn On the Sound
Soft music, like jazz or classical music, can create a nice background. Keep the volume low. If you use a streaming service, make sure it is commercial free.
Go lightly on scents
Many people sensitive to certain scents or may just not like the scent you choose, so don’t go crazy spraying the air or using plug in air fresheners. Candles pose a unique issue. You don’t want to leave burning candles unattended when you leave prior to the showing. If you blow them out, guests will smell the extinguished aroma, which is not as pleasant. Keep candles unused and unlit for décor only.
The well-worn advice about baking cookies prior to a showing is valid. You would be hard pressed to find humans that don’t love the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Here is a time saving tip- buy a flat sheet of pre-made slice and bake cookie dough to keep in the freezer. Break off two or three and place in the toaster oven (or regular oven) timed to be finished a few minutes before guests arrive. When the cookies are done, leave the oven door open to fill the area with fresh baked scent, closing it just before you leave. If you’re going to leave snacks out for guests, have a pre-made up plate of cookies ready to set out on the counter. That way you do not have to worry about plating the freshly baked cookies or washing the cookie sheet as you are headed out the door.
Instead of mulling spices, keep a pot of hot apple cider mulling with a cinnamon stick on the stove on low. Set out festive paper hot cups and napkins on the adjacent counter. Add a little note to “Please Help Yourself.”
Use Lighting Technology
Consider adding motion sensors to outdoor lighting that light up in the evening when a buyer approaches your doorstep. This fairly simple project involves swapping out your regular flood light fixture with one that has a motion sensor. Just make sure to turn off power to the circuit breaker before installation.
We are experts at preparing a home for sale at any time of year, and would be happy to share more of our wisdom with you!