How to Maximize Your Selling Potential During Winter

Some say winter is the worst time to sell a home. Given the cold and stormy weather we have been experiencing, there are definitely challenges, but don’t be discouraged. First impressions and lasting impressions are key to progress potential buyers into active buyers. Be very wary as the slightest discomfort or issue can sour this experience and turn a buyer away from your home, but by addressing a few key areas, any winter woes can be easily avoided.

Here are five simple tips to maximize the showing potential of your home during the winter months.

1. Don’t Let Winter be an Obstacle

It’s storming or just post-storm, but you have showings booked for your home. (You must have motivated buyers to go out in that weather!) Don’t make it even more of a chore for them, be sure to shovel your drive or walkway so that the first impression is a clean and accessible entry. Buyers have been known to turn away, rather than hike to the doorway in knee deep snow and risk snow in their shoes, wet pants, and wet socks.

2. Consider Your Home’s Temperature

Remember, buyers are usually viewing more than one home at a time, and thus traveling around and running in and out of cars or up and down elevators in condos. Typically they will be dressed for the great outdoors, so although having the heat way up is great for lounging on the couch, it can be oppressive for visiting buyers. Be sure to monitor the temperature of the entire house and set it appropriately.

3. Get Buyers Out of the Dark and Into the Light

The winter months also mean shorter days and less natural light. Be sure to have adequate lighting in every room. Dark rooms are depressing when coming in from the cold. Keep it bright in the winter. Some may object for energy saving reasons, but it is best to leave all the lights on before showings or use timers. This allows you to set the mood lighting, and saves the buyers fumbling for light switches.  Remember first impressions.  Is your home a sanctuary or an oasis from the cold?

4. Preparation is Key

Be sure to prepare for those wet and snowy shoes and boots. No one likes having snow and dirt tracked around there home by shoes or wet socks, just as no one enjoys having wet socks and dodging puddles in the doorway.  Be sure to have a “Shoes Off” sign. Place an absorbent mat protecting your stone or wood flooring. Be sure to have a shoe tray or appropriate storage area for shoes, not only to avoid the puddles but to show off the organization of your home.  Apply this also to winter jackets, hats and scarves. Show functioning and organization by thoughtfully arranged set ups, don’t just have outerwear exploding out of closets or haphazardly hanging on hooks or coat racks.
5. Pet-Friendly—and Groomed!

If you do own pets, be sure to have the appearance of clean pets…especially dogs. We love our furry friends, but it’s best not to leave those dirty slush-soaked towels and doggy outfits laying around. The last thing you want is the smell of wet dog greeting your buyers at the front door.

How to Make a Smart Real Estate Purchase

We’ve all heard the horror stories – people paying way too much for a house, not getting an inspection and then finding a million (expensive) problems with the place. I’ve seen it countless time with homeowners on Income Property and from talking to eager real estate investors.

Here are my top five tips for making a smart real estate purchase so you don’t get burned!

  1. Stick to Your Budget
    It’s easy to get carried away here, especially if you make the mistake of looking at houses outside your price range. The important part is to have a plan. Don’t just think about your mortgage payments every month; also think about your monthly carrying cost and be honest about your lifestyle. Consider how much you spend every month on eating out, clothing, etc. There’s nothing worse than being house poor because you weren’t honest about your spending habits.
  2. Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
    A house is an emotional purchase, since it’s where you’ll be living, raising your children and making a home for yourself. But it’s crucial to keep emotions out of the equation as much as possible. You should love your house, but you should love it because it’s in good condition and because the numbers work. Always get a home inspection and if you can’t afford it (or the work it requires), walk away!
  3. Give Every House a Chance
    I do most of my real estate browsing online, as do most people now, but you can’t always judge a house by the virtual tour – good or bad. If you see something online and it has bad pictures (or no pictures) but it’s in the right neighbourhood or in your price range, go look at it! Chances are you can get a good deal because so many people will skip it without photos online.
  4. Think Long-Term
    Before you jump into a real estate purchase, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of this property for the next 5-10 years?” Depending on your mortgage, you may have to lock in for a certain number of years, and if you think you’ll be moving in less than 5 years, I’d suggest looking at alternatives. You never want to be forced into selling your house.
  5. Have a Support System
    Having a real estate agent who understands your financial and personal situation is key, and great advice from a mortgage specialist and lawyer can be invaluable to the home-buying process. But what many people forget is to have a personal support system in place when they go house hunting. Advice from those close to you – family members, a partner, friends – is just as important to help keep you on track and avoid getting carried away. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a house, so having the personal support will keep you grounded.