I read this morning that Marty, the Maine Coon cat that lived atop Mt. Washington, passed away. Since a mountain-top feline has been a tradition since the observatory's beginnings in the 1930s, they will find a replacement in the coming months. Mt. Washington is one of my favorite mountains to play. The winter's inclement, nearly prohibitive, weather makes it all the more exciting for folks like me. In the spirit of the home of the world's worst weather, it is time to talk about selling your home in winter. Let's dig in to some of the things you should avoid as well as some solid recommendations to keep those buyers streaming in.
First and foremost, do lots of stretching and get busy with that shovel or snow blower of yours. I trust you are not one of those morons who only clears a small pocket of their windshield before heading off to work, so give the same "full" treatment to your driveway and all walkways. Chances are good that those potential buyers will not be entering through your garage. Make sure there's a clear path to the front door and don't be shy with the ice-melt either. The last thing you want is someone slipping and falling while trying to get to your home. I also strongly recommend you clear any branches from the shrubs or trees lining the walkway. If this includes some trimming of those branches, so be it.
Next, now that you have cleared a path and created an inviting entryway, take some new photos. While your backyard may be glorious with its flowers and blooming shrubs in mid-summer, your home is still beautiful throughout all the seasons. Let's be real. People are not interested in buying your home unless they are aware of (and interested in) the idea of living in a climate with all four seasons. Don't be shy about showing off your home year round. I particularly love pictures of new england homes on the sunny day after a storm. The snow is still perfectly white and the sun's rays simply make everything shine. Tidy up the driveway and walkways and get out your camera.
One unintended consequence of those bright, sunny days is the exposure your windows will get. It's amazing to experience that bright blue sky and powerful sunlight streaming in your home. I often feel like a cat just seeking out a warm spot to enjoy! But it also highlights how much you have neglected your windows all fall. The combination of the sun's rays reflecting off the snow and the lack of trees to hide the smudges both point to your need to work on your windows before the next showing. The beauty of this is you should only have to do this once before spring. Just pick a warm weekend and get busy.
While we're talking about warm spots to cozy up with a book (or a nap!), let's talk about your thermostat. To all the dads in the room, please skip this paragraph. If you are having a showing today, crank up the heat! We keep our home between 70 and 72 all winter long. Part of that is because the solar panels cover the A/C costs all summer, so it sort of balances out. The other part of that is, we enjoy being warm. If people are coming to view your home, bump up the heat a bit. It gives the impression that your home is warm and energy-efficient. It also simply makes it more comfortable for everyone and they might even linger a bit longer.
Now that your windows are clean and your home is warm, how about you actually make it available for those interested buyers! "I encourage my sellers to give the hustle and bustle of the holidays a back seat during the coming months," notes Badger Realty agent, Stacy Goodrich. "Party planning, shopping, and even family visits need to all play second fiddle to the selling of your most valuable asset. Make sure you prioritize your showings and carve out an hour or two whenever necessary," she continued. Stacy is right. Even if you just threw in a fresh batch of gingerbread cookies, get those buyers in the door. We both know the cookie smell will help!
Last but not least, be sure to add some color and life to your entryway and throughout the home. The harsh reality is winter is not the most colorful time of year in the northern hemisphere. Adding wreaths, colorful paintings and maybe even a summer-fun collage can all bring life to a dull season. We have also been in the habit of moving some of our plants (in the big pots) indoors for the winter. It keeps them healthy and adds some nice color and "life" to the house.
Selling in winter can be a bit more challenging, but also provides some opportunities to let your home shine. A nice fire in the fireplace (or woodstove), some fresh baked cookies (or cider), and some nice warm lighting (and heat!) can all make your home seem super cozy and attractive to potential buyers. Take a little time this weekend and see where you can make some improvements. You (and your agent) will be glad you did.