Selling Your Home in the Winter: How You Can Make the Most of It

From creating a warm, inviting space in your home, to clearing your driveway for potential viewers, to making sure any essential home renovation and repair is complete, we’ve compiled some ways to prepare your home in the winter and help maximize your selling potential. 

If you think selling your home in the winter is the same as selling your home in the summer, well, that’s a cold take. Each season has its distinct benefits when it comes to listing a home, so how can you take advantage of the snow and frigid temperatures?

We recently spoke with Amber van den Broek, a REALTOR® from Winnipeg, Manitoba and owner of Amber van den Broek & Associates, to speak about the  advantages of selling your home in the winter.

“There’s less competition on the market during these slower months,” she says. “As a seller, you have the focused attention of all the buyers hunting for a home in your area, or even outside your location. When supply is low, demand for your property can be high simply by being the only option.”

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the winter, here are some tips on how to prepare for a successful sale. 

Maintain Your Landscaping During Winter.

Make the most of the outdoors

Landscaping

Despite not being able to appreciate the lusciousness of your garden or lawn in the winter, landscaping shouldn’t be neglected. 

“Landscaping is your ultimate first impression,” said van den Broek. “A buyer makes their initial decision of like versus don’t like in approximately 60 seconds, so the walk up or drive by shouldn’t be underestimated. A buyer will feel confident that seasonal maintenance has likely been completed, and that you’ve taken care of your home inside and out.”

As a rule of the proverbial green thumb, remove anything that’s unlikely to survive the winter so there aren’t dead plants in the garden. If you’d like to add plants and shrubs, be sure they’re the evergreen kind such as Blue Holly or Winter Heath. If you have pets, ensure you’ve removed any droppings and yellow snow before potential buyers show up. Even if your area doesn’t get much snow, make sure your front yard is well-kept, with any dead leaves raked up and thrown away.

Clear your driveway and pathway

Shovelling snow is twofold in terms of safety and removing the thoughts buyers conjure up of having to do it themselves. Consider installing solar-powered lights to help illuminate the path and be sure to salt/sand any walking paths to lower the risk of a fall for potential buyers.

Tips to prevent long icicles from forming on your roof.

Lessen the chances of icicle formation

Icicles are very pretty to look at, but they can wreak havoc on your home. Melted snow from your roof contributes to ice dams being formed in gutters, which in turn can cause water to back up into your home. The formation of icicles can also indicate issues with your roof or ventilation, which could be a red flag to potential buyers. While you can remove small icicles yourself—make sure to take all safety precautions if you need to venture onto the roof–it’s best to leave the removal of larger ones or hard-to-reach icicles to the experts. 

Winter-resistant furniture in the front and backyard

Create a welcoming first impression by staging your front porch with durable furniture and winter-resistant blankets and rugs. Warm lighting provided by lanterns that can withstand the cold will also add to the charm. The backyard is just as important, so be sure to shovel patios and decks, and set it up in a way that highlights how the space can be used year-round. 

Cleaning the front entrance

This is technically an inside task, but it does involve elements from the outdoors. Salt, dirt, and snow all get tracked into your front entrance in the winter months, which isn’t visually appealing to potential buyers. You only get one chance at a first impression! Clean up any salt and dirt from your front entrance, and keep coats, mittens, boots, etc. in a closet so there’s no clutter when people come in. 

Muddy footprints on the carpet? Professional cleaner Madison McCausland shared her tips on getting those stubborn stains out!

Tips to Highlight Your Home's Curb Appeal.

Highlight the cozy indoor appeal

Create a warm and inviting space

“Selling in the winter months gives home sellers an opportunity to create a very welcoming, cozy vibe to their space,” van den Broek explains. “Staging works, and winter is certainly a time to get creative. Ensure the home is at a comfortable temperature, and if there’s a fireplace, make sure it’s turned on, or lit if it’s wood. We always use candles at our open houses in the winter time, nicely scented like gingerbread, baking, apples, or pine.”

“Having a tray of treats always makes buyers feel at home, and if it’s closer to the holidays some decorated cookies or candy canes for kids. The more your house feels like a home, the more a buyer will start to feel AT home!”

Did you know the World Health Organization recommends a range of 20 C to 22 C as the ideal temperature in your home to maintain overall good health and wellbeing? Aim for this temperature during an open house to keep things comfortable. No need to go too warm—people will likely be wearing jackets!

Round off any essential renovations

Be proactive with ensuring cosmetic renovations such as chipped paint and drafty windows are complete prior to listing your home. For van den Broek there are some common red flags buyers look for when purchasing a home in the winter. These include:

  • leaking window seals;
  • condensation inside the window panes, which can indicate humidity is too high in the house;
  • drafty windows and doors;
  • temperature differences in basement rooms;
  • no snow on the roof, which could indicate insulation issues in the attic;
  • back drafts of a smoky ash smell from a wood-burning fireplace; and
  • cracked corners of the foundation which can indicate a structural issue.

Sealing windows to reduce air leaks, adding further insulation where required to prevent drafts, ensuring the weather stripping around your front door has no leaks, checking the insulation levels in your attic, and updating old furnaces can be beneficial upgrades for homeowners and enticing for potential buyers. If possible, consider having your furnace serviced by an HVAC professional to be certain everything is in tip-top shape. 

Certain provinces are currently offering rebates to improve your home’s energy efficiency, which could help with the costs of some of these repairs or updates. For example, Enbridge is offering Ontarians “up to $5,000 in rebates for insulation, air sealing, new windows/doors, water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and home energy assessments.” British Columbia has a similar program through BetterHomesBC for up to $6,000. Check with your provincial energy provider to see what’s available to you!

Tips for winter decor to welcome buyers.

Embrace neutral seasonal décor

If you’re planning festive celebrations, it’s best to avoid flashing lights and large decorations that could shrink the size of your space, as well as overtly religious ornaments.

“For outside it’s nice to have some winter décor welcoming buyers to the property—a simple wreath, flower pots with birch branches and twinkle lights, solar powered walkway lights, and pay attention to overall lighting outside.”

Winter Staging Tips to Sell Your House.

Showcase your home’s versatility

Even when you’ve succeeded in transforming the exterior and interior of your home to be both charming and inviting, if possible, show photos from other seasons in your listing because, the more guesswork you take out of the equation, the more a buyer can make an informed decision they feel comfortable with.

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