While it is true that the months from Spring until Autumn are the key times to sell your property, as traditionally this is the time when demand outstrips supply, this does not mean your home won’t sell in Winter. Houses sell all year round and the perception that the winter property market is all doom and gloom is mistaken. However sellers have to be realistic and understand that there might be fewer viewings. Don’t just shut up shop and wait for the better weather, there is still a market in October and beyond – sellers just have to remember to make the effort to ensure their property still looks and feels its best. National estate agent Strutt & Parker gives its top tips for those wishing to sell up during the winter months.
David Henderson from Strutt & Parker’s Shrewsbury office advises: “First impressions are vitally important when selling so the exterior of the property is always a good place to start. The time period during winter is short and sharp and deals can go through quickly – often to the first bidder.”
Here are ten top things to consider when preparing your house for winter viewings:
1. Ease of access - If the buyer can’t get in easily, they will be put off before they even get to see the inside. It’s vital to keep walkways and driveways free of ice and snow. Just like trimming the lawn in the summer, you want to make the home look like it’s been maintained. Regularly salt or spade the driveway and side passages, and clear snow, ice and slush away where possible. Sweep up, and make sure the front yard and hall to your house are tidy and inviting.
2. Appearance - A fresh coat of neutral paint, new tiling or lino, and a couple of new kitchen doors can do wonders to smarten up a tired-looking property. If you can’t stretch to re-tiling in the bathroom, re-grouting should bring it up new. The same effect can be achieved by installing matching chrome fittings; re-painting the front door; taking down any heavy dark drapes; and strategically placing flowers throughout.
3. Cleanliness - If you’d rather not re-decorate, it is still essential that the house be spotless. Getting industrial cleaners in to really make the place sparkle will be money well-spent; have the carpets, sofa covers, oven and windows cleaned while you’re at it. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms, which need to be inviting and hygienic; finish up with a new loo seat; fresh white towels; and a strategically placed plant or two.
4. Natural light - Washing windows can help make the most of the natural winter light. If left untended they can reveal grime and make it look like the home hasn’t been well-preserved. Having curtains and blinds cleaned and opening them as wide as possible during daytime viewings will help maximize sunlight. Clean lamps and built-in fixtures, and replace the bulbs with higher wattage bulbs to stop a home feeling dark.
5. Tidy garden - The garden will never look as nice as it does in summer when in full bloom, but it is still important to keep it clean and orderly. Tidy away plant pots and furniture, sweep away damp leaves and cut back any bushes that may make your garden look smaller or badly maintained.
6. Cosiness - Install dimmed mood lighting and use table lamps and up-lighters for subtle lighting. A roaring fire makes a home look and feel welcoming and cosy during winter. Remember – although your may only be selling bricks and mortar, you are also selling a lifestyle. If viewing a cold and unwelcoming home it will be much harder for most buyers to envision themselves sitting in your place.
7. Heating - If the property you are selling is vacant, make sure to set the timer on your heating to keep it nice and cosy for viewings. It doesn’t have to be on full blast all day – set it to come on for a short period early in the morning so it will it will be warm in time for viewings and then again for afternoon and evening. Yes – Gas prices are high, but having your heating come on periodically during cold periods will also stop the pipes from freezing.
8. Pets - As much as you may love them – not everyone loves animals! Try and leave your pets with a neighbour where possible. Some people are scared of dogs and won’t be able to relax knowing one is in the house. Others are allergic to pet hairs and cat hair in particular so make sure to thoroughly clean up and hover the floors.
9. Smells - Don’t smoke or cook a curry before viewings. Smell as just as important as sight – and strong smells can be offputting.
10. Parking - If you’ve got parking, leave the space free for the buyer – this will add to the whole experience.