With over 26 years of selling Marin homes, we have found that the winter months can be active and productive. Due to the low supply and high demand, buyers have recently become more active during the last quarter of the year.
Here are the factors that contribute to a successful sale in the winter months:
Correctly price the property
Most important is price. If the seller overprices their house, then it will linger on the market, resulting in one or two price reductions, and it will become a “stale” listing. This is more important in the off months since fewer buyers are out looking. The buyers that are looking are serious, savvy, and can detect an overpriced listing. Don’t lose them!
Assure good curb appeal
Curb appeal is crucial in the winter months. It may be extra work: my sellers have had to hire their gardener (or they do it themselves!) to visit – sometimes on a daily basis – to blow leaves, power wash sidewalks, clean gutters, and rake leaves off lawns and shrubs. Be mindful of front and backyards to keep their appearance in show condition.
Tip: Obtain pictures of the sellers’ fabulous, spring landscaping in full bloom. Then display these pictures on a kitchen counter or dining room table to get the buyers excited about the outdoor areas.
Provide adequate lighting outside and inside the house at all times, especially after the sun goes down. Buyers work till 5 or 6 pm, and often want to see property after those times. Sellers need to make sure there are outdoor lights, and the lights inside are on. We usually suggest that sellers buy a timer, or a switching device controllable through a smart phone. In addition, keep the curtains open to ensure as much natural light as possible enters the house.
Keep the heat on!
Adequate heat in the house is so important, especially if the house is vacant. You don’t want buyers to feel chilled – you want them to feel cozy and stay as long as possible – not run out to the car and turn on their car heater right away! Again, you can control the heat with an internet thermostat. There are great models for about $100.
Do presale inspections
Make sure the house has been fully inspected, especially for water and moisture intrusion issues. Winter months are very telling for houses that are not sealed. This can lead to mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors. Have the sellers obtain full inspection reports starting with a pest and house inspection to ascertain if there are any moisture issues that can cause the house to feel damp and unhealthy. Have sellers correct any issues before the house goes on the market. Always have the house smelling fresh and clean.
Definitely stage the house
Don’t neglect this crucial element, especially in the winter. The first showing is online, and you want those buyers to have a second showing at the property! Have sellers create a cozy environment with holiday cheer to brighten buyers’ experience in the house. Make sure there are plenty of rugs at the front, side, and back doors for buyers to wipe their feet in case of rain. Staging will allow buyers to stay longer inside the property and see themselves there. Maybe some apple cider to drink in a thermos would be a nice gesture too! A vacant house in the winter is unappealing to buyers.
Provide easy access
Since fewer buyers are looking, make it easy for agents to show the property. Set up a convenient showing schedule and reduce restrictions to spontaneous showings. Keep a lock box at the property to ensure convenient access, especially in the winter.
Tip: Make sure the front door lock is lubricated and the key works easily.
Thinking of selling your home?
To discuss your best options for selling your home, and contact Madeline at (415) 515-9357 or Madeline@livinginmarin.com.