Tips on Selling a Home in the Dead of Winter

As all of us know, especially those of us on the east coast, it’s been a pretty cold winter. In fact, it hasn’t just been a pretty cold winter, it’s been one of the coldest, snowiest winters in decades. And, as is typical in the season, we’ve seen the weather affect economic activity. We’ve seen schools and businesses experience their typical snow days; we’ve seen the level of trade and commerce slow; and we’ve seen the Canadian real estate market, which was in a frenzy with activity in the latter half of 2013, experience its wintry lull.

It’s this last point – the winter lull that’s common in the real estate sector – which I’d like to discuss, specifically as it relates to real estate agents. I work at AccessEasyFunds, Canada’s leading commission advance company. (A commission advance is a service whereby AccessEasyFunds purchases a portion of a real estate agent’s sales commission, at an affordable discount, so that the agent can advance the date upon which he or she receives payment of his or her commission). As a Client Service Representative who’s been with AccessEasyFunds since its very beginning, I’ve worked directly with Canadian real estate agents for many years and have seen firsthand how difficult the winter season can be for them.

It’s not easy selling a home, and it’s certainly not easy selling a home in the dead of a cold winter. Frustration can build just as cash flow ebbs. For this reason, I thought it would be timely and fitting to offer a few tips that may help agents in this challenging time of year.

Make sure the home and the front pathway to the home is clear of ice and snow.

This should be real estate lesson 101 in selling a home in winter. No one, and especially potential buyers, wants to be struggling through ice and snow just to reach the front door of a for-sale house. So, if you’re inviting any prospective buyers to a home you’re selling, or more critically, if you’re hosting an open house, make sure the property’s walkway and driveway are clear of snow and ice and is a safe walk way! And for added measure, make sure that the sidewalk in front of the home is also clear.

Use the winter weather to your advantage – make the seller’s home as cozy as possible.

Like the smell and taste of hot chocolate or warm chocolate chip cookies on a cold winter day? I’m sure you do, and there’s a very good chance that potential buyers of the home you are representing also do.

A key to successfully selling a home in the winter is to make it as comfortable as possible, so that when prospective buyers enter the seller’s house, they immediately feel a sense of welcome and coziness.

There are some of things you can do to create that cozy environment: you can try the well-known strategy of baking cookies during either an open house or when prospective buyers are planning to visit; if the home includes a fireplace, have it lit and burning; and finally, adjust the home’s temperature to a comfortable and warm setting.

Regarding this last point, many sellers are hesitant about keeping a home’s temperature at a warm level out of fear of the potential spike in energy costs it may cause. Sellers who have already vacated their home are particularly wary about warming a home because of their concern that the thermostat may be left at a high temperature after all the prospective buyers have finished viewing the property.

To a seller is should be very important their home be warm and inviting when buyers come and visit. After coming in from the cold and snow, no prospective buyer wants to feel just as cold in the home they are thinking of purchasing.

A good thermostat can be time controlled to heat up and cool down after showings.

Light is everything, especially in the wintertime.

What’s one other thing that’s typical of the winter season besides the season’s cold weather? Well, it’s the season’s gray, short days. Unfortunately, this is another aspect of the season that can put selling a home and attracting a buyer in the squeeze.

As many of us know, no one wants to enter a home that’s dark or gray.

Therefore, if you’re showing a home to a potential buyer on a cold, gray day, make sure the home is well lit. Take advantage of what natural light the day offers by opening all the home’s curtains. Furthermore, turn on all the home’s lights, or at least a fair majority of them. Finally, attention to detail is always an ingredient to success, so beyond the last two points, make sure to clean or dust the lamps in each room in the house and replace all the bulbs in the home with ones of the highest wattage that can safely be accommodated.


The above content is strictly for general information purposes. The author is a not a licensed real estate agent. You should contact and hire a suitably qualified licensed real estate agent with respect to obtaining any advice and making any decisions pertaining to selling and buying real estate.