We all can agree and I am not going to sugar coat it - buying and selling spikes in the spring and summer. However, recently I had a few of my clients ask me what they should do as they need to try to sell in the fall and winter months. Here’s a few recommendations I gave them to help their home feel welcoming and bright to potential buyers during our cloudy season. What’s important to remember is that in the winter months sellers and buyers are more likely to be very motivated to sell/buy the property for whatever personal reason they may have. Therefore, better deals for the buyers and less tire-kickers for the sellers to go through their homes.
Curb Appeal – Make it WELCOMING!
Leaves will drop and snow will fall and if you don’t keep up with your yard maintenance during showings, your very nice and well maintained home could look sloppy and poorly maintained. Raking, sweeping and some leaf blowing to keep sidewalks clean is a must. Clean up your flowerbeds of dead flowers and do some tree trimming in the fall.
Just because HALLOWEEN is around the corner, it doesn’t mean you should leave them ol’ spider webs around the windows, in the carport and the front entrance. Take a broom and GET RID of them!
If it starts to snow, get to know your way around a shovel. No one wants to step out of the vehicle and slip on your unkept side walk. Guarantee they won’t like what they see laying on their back in your snow covered driveway.
If it's snowy, keep the deck shovelled and salted so buyers can walk outside to experience the space. If the climate allows, keep outdoor furniture on your patio so they can get a better feel for the outdoor living space.
Location, Location, Location… LIGHTS, LIGHTS, LIGHTS
Of course let as much natural light into that space as possible. Open shutters, draw the curtains back and lift the blinds up.
Consider improving and upgrading your fixtures or the bare minimum, new light bulbs. From experience, the daylight bulbs (5,000-6,500K) will look best in bathrooms. For bedrooms and living space go more with soft white bulbs (2,700K). Switching to the LED bulbs will be pricier but could be an enticing feature to some buyers. That is of course if you are planning on leaving the LED bulbs in the fixtures…I know some guys that had LED’s when showing the house and then replaced them with regular bulbs after the sale. I suggest you don’t do that.
Make sure your motion activated outdoor lights are fully functioning for night showings. Some rope lighting in the gazebo or pergola could help to accent the great outdoor living space.
Basic Maintenance: Small Things Will Make the BIG DIFFERENCE
Dripping faucet, running toilets, damaged weather seal in the doorways or windows, beaten up and loose baseboards, gouges in drywall, door handles that fall off when you grab it, etc. All of these small things are way too easy to neglect, but if neglected could potentially turn away qualified buyers from purchasing your home.
No surprise that the biggest ROI in most case is a $25-40 investment. A gallon of paint could do magic to any room or space. Fresh paint, especially in the lighter tones to create more light in the darker months, will do wonders. It will brighten, refresh and clean up any space, while showing buyers that you have taken time to present the space. Use satin or eggshell finishes.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Again, spider webs, dust on the fan blades should all be addressed. Glass shower doors – get rid of water stains. Hand prints on SS appliances – gone! Clean up under a kitchen sink – a must! More likely the buyer will want to check the plumbing under the kitchen sink, you don’t want anything jumping out at them when they open that cupboard. Shampoo your carpet, shine up your floor with a nice citrus scent cleaner, which will provide that fresh smell to the visitors.
I have been in homes where a 60” TV is right in front of the only window to that living room – are you crazy!! Get rid of it! I know it might be the only space you can place that unit but light into that living room for showings is more important then your next episode of Game of Thrones.
Remove all of the personal items like photos, religious items like statues and ornaments. This will allow the new owners to envision themselves with their personal stuff in your home to entertain their family and friends in a welcoming space.
If you have a fireplace make sure it is in working order (you will score lots of brownie points with the buyers if you have acquired a recent inspection of your fireplace and have a receipt). You could have your fireplace going while they are viewing your home. Let them imagine themselves in a cozy ambiance alongside a fireplace on a chilly evening?
Less is MORE, When it Comes to Decorations
No one wants to be walking in to preview a home and feel like they are in the Haunted House or they are visiting the Cranks. Keep seasonal décor to a minimum and be tasteful about it. Resist the urge to add more scent into the air – it come across like you are trying to cover up other odours in your home. Smell of freshly baked cookies will do the trick every time.
Clean Between Showings EVERY TIME
Vacuum carpets or dry mop the floors every day, especially if you have pets. Ask kids to help clean up and keep them toys out of sight.
I know it could be time consuming but it will pay off. Give people the least amount of reasons to lowball you with their offer and cleaning your space will help you to achieve that.
Don’t Tell me, SHOW ME!
It would be great if you have recent photos from the past couple of spring/summer months so that the buyers have an opportunity to see the yard during other months of the year especially when the yard and garden are in full bloom, with manicured lawns and blooming flowerbeds. Also, highlight the deck with an inviting furniture arrangement so the buyer can envision the home year-round.
You could also ask me to provide a digital 3-D tour that shows the home in the daylight. Most of the time people work during the day and tour properties in the evening when it’s dark. With less natural light that comes thought the windows the interior tends to look smaller. Plus, it is really hard to see and visualize the outside living space.