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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tips for selling in winter

OK, so we’ve made it past Halloween and now we start to enter the winter months. In the northern states, that means that we’ll have snow soon (unless Al Gore is right and then we’ll have rain). What needs to change in the winter, if you have a house for sale?

Well, for one, you need to be prepared (or pay someone) to keep your drive and sidewalk and any stoops or porches cleared of snow and ice. Nothing turns the agent and the buyers off faster than having to slough through snow or brave an icy, slippery porch just to get in to see your house. So keep the snow and ice away! Prior to the snowfall be sure to have the leaves cleaned off your yard and steps and watch for falling limbs that can block a drive or make the place look unkempt.

Since visitors may have wet or snowy or muddy shoes, you should provide a rug just inside the door and maybe a chair or two to sit on while taking off and putting on shoes, if you request that they remove their shoes and/or boots. The rug (or better yet, rugs) that you provide should be big enough to hold several pairs of shoes.

Keep the house warm enough for visitors. If the house is unoccupied keep it in the 60’s instead of all the way down to the 50’s. A cold house is an uninviting house to visit.

If you have time before the visit, bake some bread or cookies or a pie, to fill the house with an inviting aroma. Winter houses stay shut up, so you need to pay attention to the smells that are shut in, too. A fragrant candle or two may also do the trick - one that emits pumpkin pie aroma is always good this time of year.

While it is tempting to just let the back deck or patio go for the winter, try to keep them cleared, too; so that a buyer can see what they look like.

If you have a gas fireplace you might want to start it before leaving for the showing, so that the buyers see the warm, inviting fire. Only do that with a natural fireplace if you have a glass enclosure to insure that no sparks jump out while you’re gone.

Interior rooms and the basements look especially dark in the winter months, so make sure that there are plenty of lights and that they are all on for the showing.

Make sure that the family hasn’t created an eyesore by crowding too many coats on the racks by the back door and the same with extra boots by the back door. Clean up the “mud room” before each visit.

Keep an eye on your garage floor during the winter. Cars tend to bring in a lot of mud and water (snow and ice) which can turn your garage floor into a quagmire for visitors and make the garage look very uninviting. A weekly sweep (or shovel) out of this mess will keep it looking ship-shape.

It’s really all about making the visit experience to your home as pleasant as possible for the buyers and that just takes a little extra attention to details in the winter months. Happy selling and good luck.

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