Many vendors hold off selling their homes until the peak spring sales season, but have no other reason for doing so than knowing spring is allegedly “the” time to sell.
Strictly speaking, while the market is slower in winter, there’s also less competition from other vendors, so financially speaking a winter sale could be beneficial. But before you engage a real estate agent and erect the “for sale” signs, it worth considering a few things:
Which direction does your house face? If it’s South facing, chances are it might be colder, darker and damper in winter. Sometimes a spring or summer sale can disguise these negative features, and indeed your house may truly shine in those months, making it a better proposition to wait.
What sort of garden do you have? Does the grass look brown and there’s a smattering of skeletal trees in mud, or do you have a winter garden with colourful foliage, such as Japanese maples?
Is your house dark and gloomy in winter, and do you have a cosy fireplace or good heating system?
If you can make your home warm and inviting in the cooler months, then it can be a powerful time to sell, as buyers can be attracted to a homely comforting space. In some cases you might have no choice in the timing.
- Arrange inspection times when the light in your house is best. If darkness is a real problem, negotiate with the agent that it is only open at that time.
- Clean your windows so you maximise the light and brightness. If you need to have lights on, make sure the bulbs give off a warm light rather than a stark cold light.
- Clean up any damp areas both inside and outside the home, making sure there are no slimy mossy patches on the approach to the house.
- If your house is damp inside, run a dehumidifier in the lead-up to the inspection or hide supermarket moisture absorber traps in your wardrobe or anywhere prone to mildew. Take special care with the bathrooms, which can get very mildewy in winter.
- Air the house properly and get rid of last night’s dinner smells. In summer it is easy to ventilate by opening windows, but it is crucial to open and air the house some hours before you have an open for inspection.
- If you have fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and have it crackling away at inspection time. Remember to light it in plenty of time to warm the space. If you have ducted air, preheat the house to a comfortable temperature and if you rely on heaters, make sure they are discreetly tucked away and don’t take away from the ambience of the house.
- As with a summer inspection, make sure the house is clean and clutter free, and drape snug comforters at the feet of all beds.
- Bake a cake, burn some warm and inviting essential oils like cinnamon and cloves or even chocolate and coffee smells are great for winter. It sounds like a cliché, but it really works. Don’t overdo it though. There’s no need for a different smell in every room or people will wonder what you are trying to hide. Get rid of pet smells especially if there’s damp dog aroma involved.
- If it is cold and wet, get buyers to remove their shoes before entering to keep the floors clean.
- Don’t worry too much about brown lawns. Chances are everyone’s lawn will look the same, but if you are really worried, place some pot plants around the garden with some colourful winter foliage like dianthus, peppermint daisies or some perennial ornamental grasses.
There’s always buyers looking, so there’s no reason you can’t market and sell your house in winter if you want to.