Home & Garden

4 tips for selling a home in winter

Are you planning to sell your home during the first couple of months of 2015, when buyers will be scarce due to normal seasonal variations? If so, don’t hesitate, says Sid Davis, author of “A Survival Guide to Selling a Home.”

“It’s depressing to face all those bills in January and February. But many people committed to a job-related housing move will still go forward with a purchase at the beginning of the year,” says Davis, a real estate broker who’s been selling homes since 1984.

Although many post-holiday buyers are committed buyers, they’re also hard bargainers.

“They’re always trying to save pennies on their deal because they’re in an austere mood,” Davis says.

Still, Davis seeks to dissuade most would-be home sellers from postponing on the basis that springtime would be a better selling period.

“Starting in March, there will be lots more buyers flooding the market. But there will also be lots more sellers. So your competition greatly intensifies,” Davis says.

Here are a few pointers for sellers:

1 Choose a listing agent who’s weathered several post-holiday cycles. “An agent who’s been through at least 10 post-holiday seasons should be especially good at identifying the best week and day to put your property on the market,” says Mark Nash, author of “Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate.”

2 Go on a cleaning crusade right before your place goes up for sale.

Once your New Year’s celebrations are behind you, your first challenge should be to remove any hints of holiday decor.

“A house that’s stuck in Christmas or any other winter holiday is a turnoff to buyers,” Nash says.

After the decor is gone, Nash urges sellers to go on a cleaning binge, purging the property of all superfluous items and making the whole place dust- and spot-free.

“One way to make a room look better is to remove up to half the furniture and then float your sofa and other pieces at an angle away from the walls,” Nash says.

3 Lighten your interior walls. Are you a homeowner who loves bold designer paint colors? That’s fine during your tenure in the property. But once your place is heading for the market, such colors are a poor choice, especially for a wintertime sale.

4 Engender excitement about your wintertime sale.

Clearly, enthusiasm is in shorter supply during January and February than in the weeks leading up to the winter holidays. So it often helps for you and your listing agent to develop a creative marketing strategy for your winter sale.

Nash, who long sold homes in the frigid Chicago area, recalls the true story of an Illinois couple whose listing agent was puzzled about how to attract home shoppers to what he describes as their “blah suburban house” when it went up for sale one February.

What finally worked was a “Garden of Eden” theme, in keeping with the fact that the home’s owners were avid gardeners. Though their flower beds were buried in snow, the agent asked for photos showing their flowers blooming in summer. These were enlarged to poster size, mounted on tall easels and placed next to windows throughout the property.

“The theme created buzz among neighbors, real estate agents and buyers during some of the darkest days of February,” Nash remembers.