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Prepping a Home for Sale This Winter

Lori Crowell

Saturday, October 27, 2012 • 7:28am

SUMMIT, NJ - While the pool of potential homebuyers may drop during a season that’s often plagued by cold and snowy weather, there are steps sellers can take to brighten a home and improve its “show ability” during the winter months.  In fact, real estate agents say savvy sellers can use staging, reduced competition and seasonable opportunities to their advantage.

“Contrary to what some people might think, the winter is a fabulous time to sell a home,’’ said Lori Dahl, broker/sales associate at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Summit. “Any buyer who is out looking for a home over the winter typically is one who is serious with more urgency to find a home.  It’s a fact that people move 12 months out of the year.  As a seller, over the winter you are really going to be getting quality showings and motivated buyers; no one in the middle of their holiday shopping is going to be casually looking at homes.  During the holidays especially, homes look wonderful. It’s a great time for a seller to get a house on the market.’’

Curb appeal is an important element of selling a home regardless of the season.  Flowers may not be blooming in the winter, but that doesn’t mean a yard can’t have the necessary appeal for selling a home.

“Wash all the windows, clean the lamp posts and outdoor lighting fixtures, and blow or rake all the fallen leaves. Stand at the street and look towards the house. If branches are blocking the view or are hanging onto the sidewalk, trim them back now,’’ said Dahl. “And don’t neglect the back yard, because buyers will be looking there too. In empty planters, place some evergreen branches and holly; don’t leave planters bare just because you can’t put seasonal flowers in them. Sweep out the garage, and clean up the patio and deck. Buyers today are taking a good look at everything they are getting, so you want to make a home as neat and presentable as possible.’’

Walkways and steps also should be kept clear, especially of snow and ice, according to Susan Hunter, vice president of Lois Schneider Realtor in Summit. “From a safety standpoint, it’s important to keep walkways clear. Similar to lawn maintenance, a home owner need to keep up with snow and ice removal so it’s always safe for prospective buyers. If an agent shows up and the walk or driveway looks dangerous, he or she may not even show the property. Aside from aesthetics, it also presents a liability issue.’’

Inside the home, proper staging is equally important in creating the warm feeling sellers want associated with a house, and agents suggest use the winter to one’s advantage. “Light a fire in the fireplace or burn a scented candle.  If it is close to the holidays, play up the season by using winter wreaths and other seasonally appropriate décor,’’ said Hunter. Have the curtains and blinds cleaned and open them as wide as possible during daytime showings. And don’t forget to turn up the thermostat so buyers are comfortable from the moment they step through the door.

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