Contrary to popular belief, selling your property in the winter can be extremely rewarding. Whether they hear from friends, family, media or a Realtor, many people think that the spring market – March to June – is the best time to sell. Guess what, everyone else is thinking the same thing.
The best time to sell a house is dictated by supply and demand. In an ideal world as a seller you would list your house when there’s low supply and lots of buyer demand. Spring 2017 in the GTA real estate market was an extreme example of this. Conversely, when buying you ideally want lots of supply and low demand. However, a more balanced market (i.e. equal levels of supply and demand) is generally beneficial for all.
Different times of the year will see fluctuations in supply and demand, even in a balanced market. Generally, the winter will have a slightly lower supply level – remember, everyone is waiting for spring. But, demand usually starts picking up sometime in late January and continuing to peak over the next 2-3 months. Therefore, listing your house in the winter will result in slightly less competition (supply) coupled with raising demand. If timed properly, you will find yourself listing your property at the most optimal time of the year to maximize your sale value.
Preparing your house for a winter sale will also differ then selling in the other seasons.
Tips for Selling your property in the winter:
1) Remove Snow & Clear a Path
- Continually shovel a path through the snow and remove all ice.
- Put a layer of sand/salt over the sidewalk and steps to ensure your buyers’ stable footing.
- Ensure a clear path from the road to the front door so buyers are climbing over piles of snow.
- Keep a mat by the front door and a container to hold wet umbrellas and shoes
2) Warm it Up
- You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on a cold day. We recommend a winter temperature of around 22/23 degrees.
- Light the fireplace if you have one. If it’s natural fire, be sure to have the appropriate safety precautions in place and don’t be away from the house longer than necessary.
3) Let there be Light!
- Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.
- Turn on every light in the house, literally. Use mostly warm light bulbs, but a mix of “daylight” bulbs can help as well.
- Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing floor lamps in dark areas.
- Turn off televisions, speakers, computers and hide their wires.
4) Some Tunes Always Help
- Turn on soft music Jazz or “dinner” music is soothing and non-invasive.
- Try Spotify for a great selection of continuous music. Don’t use a radio station.
5) It’s all about the Feeling
- Make your living room appear inviting.
- Toss throws across the arms of your sofa.
- Turn your bathroom into a spa:
- Hang plush robes, if appropriate.
- Roll up newer wash cloths and place in a basket on the counter. We prefer using white.
- Put away your daily towels and hand up nice new ones for showing purposes (don’t use them).
- Place vases filled with winter flowers around the house, within reason of course.
6) It’s Never Looked so Good
- Display photographs showcasing your summer flower gardens and lush green lawns.
- Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery.
- Make Your House Sparkle:
- Wash windows – inside and out
- Clean out cobwebs throughout the house, even in the basement.
- If necessary, re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
- Clean all chrome faucets and mirrors.
- Clean out the refrigerator. Don’t store any smelly foods. There’s nothing worse then opening someone else’s fridge only to get a rush of something stinky. Gross.
- Vacuum daily. Seriously. Twice daily if you own hairy dogs/cats.
- Wash floors.
- Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades, bathroom fans and light fixtures.
- Clean dirty grout, especially in showers.
- Empty trash and recycling bins, daily.
7) Watch the Smells, Please
- Many people are sensitive to certain scents, so don’t spray the air, use candles or plug-in air fresheners.
- If you’re going to bake cookies or generate other amazing natural smells, put out munchies so buyers aren’t disappointed.
8) Comfort Food Wins the Day
- Be creative. There’s many great options to choose from, but pick something you can make fairly easily and readily.
- Ideally you want the food to be something the buyer needs to work at a bit. This will keep them in the house longer and they’re more likely to notice things about your house they may have otherwise missed.
- Hot apple cider or cups of cocoa make great beverage choices. Keep an electric kettle handy for buyers to make their own. Some coffee makers can also dispense hot water.
9) Automation is Awesome
- Plug indoor lamps into a timer to automatically turn on at times buyers will be present. Lowes and Home Depot have many products for this.
- Motion sensors can be a great option for evening lights, particularly outside. Another great option is “smart” lights that you can control with your smart phone prior to any showings.
- If you’re stuck in the old days and still use an answering machine, turn it off or put it on mute. Even better, get rid of it.
- Invest in a smart thermostat – such as Nest. These are not only seen as an upgrade to the house, they also help you save on energy costs.
10) Inform the Buyers
- Attach printed cards to items and in rooms that provide further information the buyer might miss or might not know. You have so little time to make an impression.
- If your basement stairs are steep, attach a card to the railing that cautions buyers to watch their step or their heads.
- Make a note if you have special features that may not be readily noticed – e.g. a very rare type of stone counter.
- Take care when placing a card that says: “Not included in the sale.” That will make a buyer want it, but you can play that later to your advantage.
If you follow the above guidance, you will no doubt be successful if you try selling your property in the winter.