Some simple steps from the National Association of Estate Agents to ensure you don't miss out on a buyer this winter.
During the winter, when the days are shorter, the house market is renowned for being quieter, as many sellers postpone putting their house on the market until the spring.
However, this doesn’t mean buyers stop searching, so sellers should do everything they can to market their property in the best possible light.
By following a few simple steps, sellers can ensure their property looks and feels attractive to capture a buyer this winter.
Don’t forget about the exterior
Make sure the property looks well maintained and cared for from the outside, with windows and walls freshly washed to remove any dirt. Clear the path of leaves and make sure there isn’t any ice on the paths that could cause potential buyers to slip. The first seconds upon arriving at the property are the most important in terms of impacting the buyer’s decision.
Keep entryways clutter-free and clean
As rain is falling outside, keep your home clean and tidy inside. Make sure there is a door mat present for visitors to wipe their shoes and remove any wellington boots from the front door mat, so potential buyers won’t trip over them.
Let there be light
With shorter days during the winter months, it is crucial to maintain a good level of lighting in your home to make it inviting for visitors, especially during evening viewings to create a warm and cosy ambience – and that includes outdoor lighting too. Make sure you should check all bulbs are working prior to a viewing.
A warm welcome
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and decorating your home may encourage potential buyers to stay longer – and having a roaring fire going can create a warming feel. Don’t go too overboard with the tinsel though, as you don’t want your property to look over-cluttered. Buyers should be able to envisage themselves living in your home, so it pays to make it as inviting as possible. Smell is also important, so putting out a diffuser or some freshly cut flowers works really well.
A messy garden can detract buyers, as it looks like lots of work needs to be done. The winter weather can also tire garden furniture, and make it look unsightly. If possible, clear patio furniture away, if not, ensure they are securely covered. It’s worth spending a few hours trimming bushes, mowing the lawn, removing fallen leaves and dead plants to make a tidy outdoor space. It is also a good idea to trim back overhanging branches, particularly those blocking the windows in order to encourage as much light into the property as possible. Increased rainfall over the winter months take its toll on guttering too, so check the gutters and drain covers are properly cleared of dead leaves and other debris, as leaky gutters and down pipes cause damage and are unappealing.
Tackle the DIY jobs you have been putting off
Make sure all small maintenance jobs have been made prior to putting your house on the market – such as fixing leaky taps or painting over cracks on the walls. Despite the fact you might not notice it, potential buyers will and fresh internal décor and paintwork goes a long way.
If you are planning to get some winter sun and have a holiday booked, don’t forget the heating in your home should be left on at a low temperature (minimum of 15°c), in order to prevent the pipes from freezing. If you are away for a long period and don’t want to keep the heating on 24/7, make sure it is set on a timer. Longer spells at a lower temperature can be more economical than shorter blasts at a higher temperature. This will ensure there are no problems upon your return to be dealt with before showing your home to prospective buyers.
David Mackie is president of National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)