The winter season makes staging — the concept of showing your house at its best — even more important. Be prepared to put a little effort into it, if you do this right, you can really make your house stand out...
1. Warm it up.
If you're showing during the winter, think "warm and cosy". Before a buyer comes through, adjust the thermostat to a warmer temperature to make it welcoming. If you have a gas fireplace, turning it on right before the inspection can give the house even more ambiance. On many occasions, sellers leave right before the agent and prospective buyers arrive. In that case, adjust the heat to a comfortable temperature and have the hearth set for a fire. Buyers feel the warmth and see the potential, and you don't have to worry about safety concerns.
2. Take advantage of natural light.
Try to ensure most of your inspection times are in the daylight hours and make the most of the light you do have. Make sure the curtains and blinds are cleaned and open them as wide as possible during daytime inspection. Clean all the lamps and built-in fixtures and replace the bulbs with the highest wattage that they will safely accommodate. Before you show the house, turn on all the lights (just for the inspection).
3. Get the windows cleaned.
Sunlight or bright lights from inside the house can reveal grime and make it look like the home hasn't been well-maintained, for this reason sparkling clean windows can help to make a great impression.
4. Play music softly in the background.
To create a little atmosphere, tune the radio to the local classical station. Turn it down so that you barely hear it in the background (like a hotel lobby). This can be soothing for buyers and can make them hang around a little longer for a better look.
5. Make it comfortable and cosy.
Set the scene and help the buyers see themselves living happily in this house in the winter months. Consider things like fresh flowers, putting a warm throw on the sofa, or switching on outside entertaining area heaters.
6. Set up timers.
You want your home to look warm and welcoming whenever prospective buyers drive past. But you're not home all the time, so put indoor and outdoor lights on timers. Look at the outside lighting around the door. Is there enough illumination to make it inviting?
7. Make it welcoming.
Even if you're not actually going to be present at the open for inspection, greet your buyers as if they were going to be guests at a party. Set the dinner table, have a plate of cookies out for your guests and even chilled bottles of water. First impressions are powerful and a little extra effort goes a long way.
8. Give the home a nice aroma.
Bake some cookies or a cake before the inspection, other popular scents: cinnamon rolls, freshly baked bread, apple pie, vanilla, coffee and cinnamon. If you’re not living at the property you can use an essential oil diffuser, plug-in air fresheners or scented candles, but be careful not to overdo it - too much scent can make buyers wonder what smell you’re trying to mask. Watch out for bad smells, too - pet smells, smoke and musty odours can cling to curtains and carpets. Ask your agent or a friend to give it a sniff test.
9. Protect your property.
Some sellers (or their agents) will ask buyers to either remove shoes or slip on paper "booties" over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers like this, as it indicates pride of ownership and meticulousness that resonates with some buyers.
10. Use the season to your advantage.
In the winter, with the leaves off the trees, you might also have a nice view that isn't as apparent in the spring and summer months - it's a great time to sell waterfront properties where the view is usually obscured by trees.