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Selling in the Winter (Part 2)

The second of a two-part series on selling your home in the winter.

Believe or not (Ripley), it is winter. Although the temps are in the 40s and 50s, it is winter. And preparing your home for sale this time of year takes a little work. My last blog covered why selling in winter can be a benefit to both the buyer and the seller, and as promised, this will cover preparing your home for sale. It starts with realizing that all five senses must be satisfied

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions. It begins with curb appeal. When a prospect drives up to your home they want to get that feeling that the home is well maintained. Even though there is little color in the plantings, it is still important that the trees are pruned and the bushes are shaped nicely. Color can be brought in by hanging a flag or flags. The sidewalks must be clear of debris, snow (if it ever gets here) and especially ice (also a safety hazard if not removed). The gutters and leaders must not be hanging off their supports. It is also recommended that the home be power washed and the windows clean. If possible and the temperature is over 50 degrees, repaint the front door and install a new door knob. Buyers want to see and touch the house; an old pitted door knob is not a good start. A new welcome mat is a “nice welcome.” Brighter exterior lights play an important role for those viewing the home after 4 p.m. Lastly, make sure your Realtor installs a tasteful, clean, and sturdy “for sale” sign post. It also makes an impression on a potential buyer that your Realtor thought enough about your home to have it installed.

The Inside Story. When entering the home there are immediacies that a potential buyer will encounter, ego and smell. Ego comes in the form of what they feel when they walk in the door, but just as importantly what will their guests feel when they enter, if they become the owner. Ego plays a huge role in the purchasing process, especially when the home is being “shown off” by the new owner. The other immediacy is the smell. When a visitor gets hit smack in the face with a strong pet, cooking, or smoke odors, it is an instant turn-off and many times an instant turn around out of the house. Although those odors are easy to remedy, it needs to be dealt with prior to putting it on the market. Because the home is closed up during the winter the smells are much stronger, it is suggested that a window always be open, even just a crack to let fresh air in and odors out, as well as the use of an air freshener. Other solutions include bathing the pets on a regular basis, change the cooking habits until the home is sold, while also cleaning out the oven and removing the garbage more frequently. And, of course, stop smoking. Not only does it take out the stench, it also is great for one’s health and those around them. Many home sellers have been successful with baking cookies before they have a visitor (they also have gained weight during that same time period). Bring in the pleasant aromas.  (even the word aroma is better than odor)

A good tool of the trade for visitors is to have them remove their shoes or put on the surgical shoe covers. This will keep the floors clean and free of scuff marks.

Change all the light bulbs in the home to higher wattage as it gets darker earlier and it just brightens everything up. Make sure all hallways and entryways are clear of all the winter attire. This same attire also attributes to closets being filled to the max.  However, closets should not be ¾ filled to show that there is plenty of closet space.  Therefore, the owner must make their best effort to redistribute the clothes they need for the winter and store or box the clothes they do not wear during the colder months.

Create a photo album next to the house brochures with pictures of your home during the warmer months.

Then, of course, the usual recommendations, for the inside: keep everything clean, with close attention to the kitchen and bathrooms; paint rooms if necessary; de-clutter; and de-personalize the house by removing the family pictures. Believe it or not, it is very difficult for a buyer to “move their family in” if your family is still there. Most importantly, price your home to sell to today's buyers. ()

It's Showtime. Being on the market, the house is no longer your home; it is a commodity. Make sure it is being merchandised that way. Always tidy, always clean, always ready to be shown. When being shown, please get out of the house with the dog and the kids, while having soft music playing in the background. A buyer wants to hear their thoughts when walking through and the sound of kids and barking dogs can impede upon those thoughts, whereas soft music encourages good thoughts.  Also, when the owner is present a prospective buyer is discouraged into asking questions or making comments about their position on the home or of the home.  Allow showing times not to be too limiting. One needs to remember that the home needs to be available for showing when the buyer is available. The Realtor lockbox is programmed to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., which gives a seller assurance that their home cannot be accessed outside those prescribed. However, the same lockbox can be re-programmed to fit the seller’s needs also. Just be aware that a buyer and seller are two ships in the dark and once they pass they are gone forever. A buyer has to get a taste of your home and the neighborhood at all hours. Limiting showing times limits your buyer’s (every house has one buyer) chance of experiencing that. Don’t miss that chance.

Think Like a Buyer. Although the seller asks a price, the buyer determines the value. Therefore, think like a buyer. Consider why you bought your home, what price will a buyer pay for my home, what do I need to do in order to get my home perfect for myself, if I was a buyer for this area.

Choosey Sellers Choose ...  It is imperative that the Realtor you choose understands the market and the marketing of your home. That marketing should be property specific. Also, remember, you should interview Realtors ). Decide which best fits your needs and which will best give you your best chance to sell your home.  Your relationship with your Realtor is first based on a business decision as it is a business transaction. If it is a friend or family member, don’t choose them for that reason only. Choose them because they are the best for the selling of your home ().

The winter is a trying time to sell a home, but as previously mentioned in my last blog, it happens, and it happens frequently. I am seeing it in my office now. More inquiries, more calls, more internet leads and more walk-ins of qualified buyers looking to buy. If the good weather continues, so will the encouraging real estate market. Happy winter!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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