Marketing Your Home in the Winter

So, you got a deal in late summer or you just picked up a great deal of rehab and it will be ready way before the prime selling season beginning around March of next year. Although Winter isn’t always the best time to sell a property, you can increase your odds of selling the property quickly at a good price by taking the following tips in mind.

1. Keep the driveway and sidewalks clear.  Not only does this increase the “curb appeal” of your property, by keeping the driveway and sidewalks clear, it provides an open invitation to potential buyers who have possibly had to trudge through snow and ice when looking at other properties. If this is something you can’t do yourself, then hire someone to do this.

2. Protect your investment. Have welcome mats inside and out. Put runner type carpets in high traffic areas in complimenting or neutral colors. Also, consider providing shoe covers for people looking at the house. We put a small basket with plenty of covers in it. It sets a good tone for the buyers and establishes you as someone who cares about the condition and appearance of the property.

3.  Keep the lights and power on. It is important to set the ambiance of the property and create a warm feeling to the buyer. This just can’t be accomplished with a cold and dark house!   We will talk about lighting in our next tip but keeping the heat and power on avoids having to winterize the property and sets a warm and cozy feeling about the property. Keep the temperature at around 65 degrees (if it is cold outside, this will feel very cozy) but if you know someone is going to come to the house for a showing then bump it a few degrees (70) before they show up.

Include the cost of utilities in your rehab budget. It’s not as much as you may think considering the cost and hassle of winterizing, de-winterizing, having the water turned on and off, etc. Consider installing a thermostat on your property that is programmable. It’s a great selling feature and allows you to better control the cost of heating.

4. Take advantage of lighting.  Not only should you use lighting to highlight your property interior- consider taking advantage of the natural light. Use motion sensors on the front porch or driveway to automatically turn light on for an evening showing. Use indoor lights on timers to create a sense that someone is actually at the property. We use timers that go on and off at various times to try to deter someone considering breaking into the property.

You can also use lighting to augment your staging. An example might be, if you have a nice little area that would be ideal for reading and have staged it with a comfortable chair and some books, having a light over this area gives a sense of the possibilities of this property to your potential buyers.

Finally, use the natural lighting to your advantage to provide a warm and open feel to the property. Caution: make sure you don’t leave window coverings open in areas that would allow thieves or other bad folks to more easily break into your property.

5. Stage it!  I can’t believe that someone that invests thousands of dollars in rehabbing a property wouldn’t stage it! Most sellers don’t stage, so do yourself a favor- stage your property. It doesn’t have to be the full staging you see on some of the TV programs, just a little here and there. Your intent is to evoke emotions from your possible buyer. Ask another experienced investor or hire a staging company for a simple staging.

6. Limit seasonal decorations. Although the period around the holidays can be joyful, your buyer may not celebrate the same holidays as you do. Try to be as non- denominational as possible.  Using items like winter wreaths and dried flower arrangements and adding just a bit of generic holiday decor will allow you to remove the holiday decor but continue using these wreaths and other items even after the holidays have passed.

7. Aroma. Our sense of smell is indeed powerful. Use it to your advantage. Although many use odors such as fresh baked cookies, apple pie and more, these techniques are something most buyers are aware of and it may backfire on you. In addition, some buyers may be allergic or sensitive to strong odors, even if they smell good. First of all, make sure that your property smells good on its own. Trying to mask an odor such as cigarette smoke normally doesn’t work. Make sure that the property smells clean and then odors such as clean sheets, fresh outdoors, or similar seem to be not as intrusive and add to the overall mood of the property.

8. Flyers and more. Put out flyers! In case you have problems keeping flyers outside, we will also post one to the front picture window if available and put several more inside the property. On the flyer be sure to include items such as schools, shopping, and restaurants. Be sure to mention other items within a short drive such as skiing and other winter sports.  Finally, if possible, include pictures of the outside of the property in another season such as Fall, that better show off the landscaping, etc.

That’s it. Taking a little extra time to enhance the appeal of your property could pay off in dividends with a faster sale and higher price. By realizing and catering to the fact that most of us justify a purchase with logic but ultimately buy on emotion will allow you to create an ambiance and look for your property that may well help you overcome selling in the Winter season. Best of luck and to your success!!

About the Author Attorney William Bronchick

Attorney William ("Bill") Bronchick, host of Legalwiz.com, has authored six best-selling books and is sought nationwide for his 25+ years of real estate and legal knowledge. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as CNBC, TIME Magazine, USA Today, Investor Business Daily, Forbes, and the LA Times, to name a few. William Bronchick is the co-founder and past President of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors and the Executive Director and founder of the College of American Real Estate Investors. Click on the "About" link above for more information on William Bronchick.

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