For those of us living north of the Mason-Dixon line, living through cold winters is simply part of life. For most of us, we love the crisp air, countless recreational options, and the breathtaking beauty of a snowy winter. Granted, the shoveling and scraping of windshields does get old towards the end of March (or beginning!) but the benefits outweigh the little hassles and we love it here.

One of the challenges of living in a northern climate is selling your home while the weather outside is frightful. Today we're going to explore a few of the ways you can take advantage of the winter months to highlight different areas of your home and get those buyers off the sidelines.

A crackling fire is a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to showing/selling your home. I had a friend who heated his home exclusively with a woodstove. The only hiccup for him was it was a crappy, old stove and he smelled like a campfire every day. Personally, I liked the smell, but it was not always the most professional scent to be giving off.

If you can have a fire without the smoke and smell (like most modern wood stoves are capable of) then jump on in and set the mood. The potential buyers will love it!

If you've lived in the northern climates for a while, you know that the entryway to your home (regardless of whether or not you have kids, pets, etc.) tends to get cluttered with snowy/muddy boots, outdoor gear, hats, scarves, mittens and maybe even an occasional sled! (Is that just me?) If you've got a showing coming up, think back to my dozens of references to clutter and tidy up that entryway. Particularly in the winter months, this will be the potential buyer's first impression of your home. Added "stuff" clutters up this area and makes it feel smaller and less inviting. Having plenty of room for guests' boots, coats and other items will show them how inviting and welcoming your home really is for their guests in the future.

As you walk through the home, consider how each individual space feels, specifically in the winter.

"One of my favorite suggestions for sellers and homeowners alike is making sure each room has at least one piece of 'cozy' in it," said Badger Realty agent Tara Peirce. "A simple blanket, a warm throw or even a lush area rug will ensure that each space in the home is more warm and inviting."

While we're talking about each of the rooms inside the home, be sure you accentuate any of those areas of the home that are useful for mid-winter recreation. While most of us don't have a basketball court or climbing wall in our homes, we can still find spaces for kids to get out that extra zip they have after being stuck indoors for too long. My brother and I used to spend countless hours in our basement, rocking out to the Bee Gees and skateboarding around the lolly columns. Especially for those buyers with kids, highlighting areas of the home where kids can spend time is a big win for you.

And let's not forget that kids aren't the only ones who like to recreate in the colder months. We all know by now that staging your home is super-important for showings. Be sure to set up a room showing how you could entertain adult friends as well. Put out plates and glasses and even set up a table for card games or other fun activities. Just because we love playing outdoors in the winter doesn't mean we can't appreciate a fun evening indoors with friends. If you have the space for it, flaunt it! A home that can be fun and entertaining throughout a cold winter, for both kids and adults, will be a show-stopper.

Moving outdoors for a bit, ensure that any of your four-season outdoor spaces are set up and available for the showing. A simple covered porch (with or without the outdoor fireplace) can be a great spot for morning coffee or an evening glass of wine. Before the showing, make sure these spots are "staged" so that it looks like you were about to head out there yourself. Adding the cushions and pillows to the chairs and including a warm blanket will create a more inviting space that those potential buyers are sure to notice. Just as you love the fact that your home extends onto the porch, those buyers will appreciate the extra space and will most certainly notice that you have set it up for year-round use.

Lastly — and this one should be obvious — make sure that your driveway and walkways are pristine. The goal here is to create an inviting space. If folks have to trudge through snow or gingerly walk across your icy steps, they will be turned off before they even walk through the front door (if they even make it that far!). If it is actively snowing, you get a bit of a pass, but aside from that, you need to take the extra time to make access to your home clean and safe. Get out there with some salt and sand and shovel your little heart out. I promise you it will be worth the effort.

Showing a home in the winter months is simply a part of life up here. Of course we'd all prefer to show our homes with the flowers blooming and the birds singing, but that's not reality. You can take some steps to ensure the showing highlights the best parts of your home, both inside and out. You can use this as an opportunity (that you don't really have in the summer) to show how great your home is even if everyone is stuck indoors.

I encourage you to use a couple of these suggestions, even if you're not selling your home. You may as well love your home while you're in it!

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