Off-season home selling

Advice for putting your home on the market in the winter

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

Think winter is a terrible time to sell your house? Wrong! The combination of fewer sellers and eager buyers make it a great time to list.

“Many people think selling their home in the winter is not a great idea, but if you think about it, there’s less competition because there’s usually fewer homes on the market. Also, when there are buyers in the market in the winter, they’re more motivated because they’re not just window shopping,” explained Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

“Less competition ultimately is the number one reason for a seller to list in the winter, in the perceptually poorer months,” added real estate broker Dan Tracy.

A recent Redfin report showed that winter-listed homes are 9 percent more likely to sell, and that they sell a week faster than homes listed in other seasons. One thing that helps is a furnace tune-up so your home feels cozy as soon as prospective buyers are in the door.

“What I like to do is make sure the heat is set at a certain temperature. Maybe that’s 72 or 73 degrees – whatever’s comfortable for that home so when you walk in, it feels warm and inviting,” said Tracy.

If your selling in the winter, Hicks also recommends the following:

  • If you have a fireplace, you should get it swept and have a fire burning during showings.
  • Clean the windows and let in as much natural light as possible. That’s especially helpful on overcast days.
  • Don't forget curb appeal. Keep trees and shrubs pruned and place a fresh welcome mat on the front door to make it more inviting.
  • Take it easy on the scents. The aroma of an apple pie, chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon can entice home buyers and leave a positive association with your house. Again, don’t overdo it. A lightly scented candle is OK, but stay away from strong scents that can be negatives for some people.
  • Stage the house for winter. Accessorize your living spaces with lots of throw pillows in thick, soft fabrics. Toss some throw blankets in complementary colors on the couch and chairs to make the room appear even more comfortable.

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