It’s cold outside. And, when I went to show a house a few days ago, it was also cold INSIDE. The seller had moved out, and left the thermostat set at 50 degrees. So the pipes wouldn’t freeze. The buyers, however, did freeze. The home was undeniably beautiful, but what the buyers noticed most clearly was… “IT’S COLD IN HERE!!” Sigh. I’m sure the seller would have preferred their attention to be on the amazing new bathroom and fabulous backyard view. But the buyers spent most of their time at the house attending to how uncomfortably cold they felt, and noting that getting back into their heated car would feel better. That would be a seller “oops.”
This “oops” breaks my cardinal rule of cold-weather home selling: In Winter, sell a ski lodge.
Even if you are not a skier, I am sure you can conjure up a mental image of the warm coziness of a ski lodge. All warm golden light, and warm crackling fireplace, and warm fuzzy blankets thrown over the backs of warm, comfy couches. Did I mention “warm”??? 🙂 The whole setting is designed to help you thaw, so that you walk in the door and say, “Ooh! It feels so good in here!” That’s the same reaction you can aim for as a winter home seller.
In our minds, wintertime houses (at their best) are the scene of all sorts of seasonal and holiday coziness. “The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.” It’s the place where mugs of hot cocoa warm up children just back from playing in the snow. Or it’s the place where folks cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie together. It’s the place where a turkey is roasting or cookies are baking, or (if you are lucky) both are happening at once. Obviously, when you are selling your house you can’t have all these images actually playing out before the buyers’ eyes, but you can arrange the experience so that they can readily imagine how your home would be the setting in which all this cozy delight would occur. Warm colors, fuzzy blankets, space to snuggle in front of the fireplace…and a thermostat set to a gently toasty level.
Holiday décor also can add a certain charm to your home, but have an *honest* friend or your agent double check the rooms for you to make sure that the holiday add-ons have not overfilled the spaces and made your home feel smaller than it is. Be sure there is still a nice wide walkway through your rooms, and if you can manage it (without crushing your spirit or your children’s) you might think about holiday decorating with a light touch while your house is on the market. A little goes a long way, but still allows the house to show off its own intrinsic charm. (“Look at those built-in bookcases!”) Buyers might spend a lot of time ooh-ing and aah-ing over your cute plush elves and the adorable penguin groupings…but too many of these displays also might distract them from the important analysis that will actually sell your home. (Would the bunk beds fit in that bedroom? Is there a good space for the piano? Is the fence in the yard high enough to contain Fido the Ferocious?)
When selling your house in the winter, try going outside for a little while, stay out long enough to get good and cold, and then step back in your front door. Does it feel warm? Warm…as in the thermostat. And warm…as in cozy and welcoming. Are you getting the ski lodge vibe? If so, your buyers are apt to feel it, too, and should feel comfy enough to relax and notice that your lovely stainless steel double oven would be ideal for cooking all the richly-imagined holiday meals of their future.
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors