Sure, it is easy to spruce up your yard to impress buying in the spring, but what about in the dead of winter when snow is covering everything? And going to view a home is easy when you are wearing three layers of clothes and navigating snow covered paths, right? But, there are several advantages for both sellers and buyers to entering the real estate market in winter.
First, when it comes to shopping for your dream home, you will have less competition from other buyers vying for the same property. As a seller, you know that the buyers who are out there viewing homes in 10 degree weather are very serious about making an offer once they find the right property. That property just might be yours, if you present it well-even in the snow.
The following are a few tips for winter sellers entering the market, and buyers searching through the snow for their next home:
Home Seller: Warm up Potential Buyers
- Make your home warm and inviting. Shovel and clear pathways, and spread with salt pellets to melt dangerous icy patches. Have a showing scheduled after dark? Buy several solar stake-lights and stick them along the paths to your home-on top of the snow (if you normally have lights staked in the ground, they are probably buried in snow) and this will make the path to your home still look safe and inviting after dusk. Offer hot apple cider (put out a thermos) on the kitchen counter with a note asking buyers to help themselves. Depending on how long you will be gone during the showing (in other words, if there will basically be someone in the house most of the time) consider starting a small fire burning in the fireplace.
- Don’t cancel showings because it snows. Keep your snow blower handy and if perhaps, invest in hiring someone to plow your driveway. Ask if they have availability on short notice. Shovel out your mailbox and the “for sale” sign on your lawn so that it is always visible. Buyers often need these items to identify your home as being “for sale” and your street address.
- Buy a thick, beautiful new door mat to each door on the inside where potential buyers’ wet boots can be left.
- Keep the thermostat set between 68-70 degrees for showings. A cold home is uncomfortable to view and sends the message that heating the home is difficult or too expensive.
- Put away all your boots and snow gear for showings. Having things piled near entry doors gives the impression of clutter and lack of storage.
Buyers: Heat up Your Winter Home Search
- Keep in mind that the house you are viewing may not appear as beautiful as it might in the spring, summer, or fall. Things may be a bit less tidy inside too (particularly the floors and entryways) because of foot traffic in and out of the house. Ask your Realtor if there are pictures you could see of the landscaping, taken in the spring or summer, when there is no snow cover involved and flowers or shrubs are in full bloom.
- Unless the road are dangerous for travel, keep the appointments you make with your Realtor. Remember that sellers take time to clean their home and get it ready for you to see. In winter that means more work, like shoveling walkways and plowing the driveway. Doing all of that work, only to have buyers cancel at the last minute is beyond frustrating.
- Remove your boots at the door. It is common courtesy not to track snow, salt or sand all over the house.
- Dress appropriately for the weather and for walking the property. Comfortable warm boots (preferably with no high heels) make it easier to maneuver on snow covered surfaces, paths and walkways that are less than perfect due to snow or ice.
Often, shopping for a home or selling one is an exciting adventure and winter can add to some of the challenges if you are not prepared. But, if you plan accordingly, it can also be one of the best times to buy or sell a house…and be settled in your new home in time to enjoy the spring weather!