Some might say that selling a home during the winter is advantageous because of limited seller competition. Although it may be true that there is less competition, there is typically less home buyer traffic during winter months as well. Additionally, many home buyers who look during the winter months expect home sellers to be more flexible about pricing, and may subsequently make a lowball offer. However, if you’re planning a winter sale, preparation and marketing can increase your success.
Ideally, you have your furnace checked and cleaned annually by a licensed HVAC professional. But if you don’t, this might be at the top of your list to ensure your home is comfortably heated to warmly greet home buyers from the cold.
Checking the condition of the home’s roof, gutters and downspouts can lessen the impact of severe weather, including heavy snow and ice. Ice dams resulting from melted and frozen snow are known to lift roof shingles and siding – which can allow water to make its way into your home. Water penetration from ice dams can damage ceilings, walls and window casings. Left unrepaired, mold and possible structural issues may develop; which is obviously an issue when selling a home.
Snow and ice removal/treatment from sidewalks and steps is essential when selling your home, so as to lessen the possibility of someone slipping and getting hurt from a fall. Additionally, downspouts should also be cleared of snow to reduce drainage blockages, which can be a source of water buildup around the home’s foundation.
Another winter concern is plumbing maintenance. Problems with pipes can arise anytime the temperature falls below the freezing point. There is a misconception that frozen water inside pipes cause pipe ruptures; however, pressure that builds up from trapped air within frozen pipes is typically the culprit. A licensed plumber can advise you on preventing freezing pipes.
If you’re selling a vacant home, you might consider winterizing it. “Winterizing” is a term that describes the draining of the plumbing system. Winterizing may reduce the risk of bursting pipes and damaging plumbing fixtures. Hiring a licensed plumber to winterize/de-winterize may decrease the probability of damage to the plumbing system from any high pressure build-up. If you are out of town, you might consider having a trusted person regularly check on the home (even if you are listed with a real estate agent). This person can take care of any house related issues that may arise while you are away.
Decluttering your home can sometimes be a challenge; and during winter months, it can be even be more challenging to keep the home clutter-free. Winter is when we spend time indoors, creating comfort areas where we may accumulate “stuff.” Organization can help limit accumulation of winter clutter, but a daily tidy up may also be necessary to be ready for any buyer viewing.
Just because it is winter does not mean you should stop actively marketing your home sale. Having a winter pricing and marketing strategy can prepare for showings and negotiating with lowball offers. Weather permitting, winter open houses are a great way to allow potential home buyers to view your home in a controlled concentrated time period. Communicate with your agent about showing times and instructions; you may need additional notice for any last minute tidying as well as changing your availability due to the holiday season.
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX All Pro in Rockville, MD. You can access more information at www.DanKrell.com.