Even if you’re in balmy temperatures, remember that winter is traditionally a busy season followed by a period of calm that some people consider dull. It’s also a time for family get-togethers which can interrupt your showing schedules unless you know about them in advance. Ask your seller’s what’s coming up for them in the next few weeks so you’re prepared. Ask your buyers the same question. It can pay to put their events in your calendar.
Lights make homes look cozy and warm on cold and cloud shrouded days, even in warm climes. Adding greenery and even flowers brightens up a home so it shows at it’s very best even in a snowstorm or when it’s pouring rain outside. Additional lighting, or leaving some of the holiday lights in place can be great – just be sure it isn’t garish.
Is there anything less appealing than a cold house on a gloomy day? And there’s really no reason a home you show should ever be chilly.
If your seller is living at home the house probably will be warm enough but it never hurts to call ahead and ask.
If the house is vacant either you or the seller will have to go raise the thermostat well in advance of the showing. If the home is kept at about 50° you want need an hour or so to get it to a reasonable 68 to 72°.
When you’re listing the home ask if any of the bedrooms are particularly chilly when it’s cold. If you find cold spots you may want to add a small space heater or failing that at least warn your client in advance. In a letter warm houses properly priced outsole cold ones without a doubt.
You can show the outside looking great even in the dead of winter by having some photos of the property available. Some good size pictures showing how the garden looks in spring summer and fall can help buyers visualize how much they will enjoy using the outdoors during those times.
If you are in snow country it’s okay to point at lumps and say “that’s the barbecue” or gesture toward a bare tree saying “…in summer you’ve got all the shade you need.” It’s your opportunity to describe the property at its best.
Making sure your buyers prequalify is extra important in winter because although the market slows down, an offer from a pre-qualified buyer is much more likely to be accepted than one who has to delay the deal to get financing. This is even more important if you’re working in an area where real estate is particularly hot regardless of season. Although the market has generally improved were still a long way from truly easy financing which is probably a good thing.
Because the real estate market is and what it was a couple of years ago you can move things along by making sure you’re up to date on both VA (http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/realtors.asp) and FHA (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/buying/loans) loans. Your local trade magazine or checking the websites of both can get you the information you need with minimal time investment on your part. When you’ve got the answers about financing the deal is much more likely to actually close.
Winter can be a great time to be a real estate agent, truly.
What winter selling tips would you add?
Before Anne Wayman became a writer she sold real estate in Southern California. She worked with her father who learned the business from his father. Not surprisingly she learned a few things along the way. Since then, she has been freelance writing for over 30 years – she is a grandmother, loves cats and writes about a wide variety of topics including real estate.