Make sure your home is warm and inviting when selling this time of year

It’s something that you didn’t see coming.

Out of the blue, you received a promotion at work. While that’s a good thing — it comes with a hefty pay raise and more job-related perks — the downside is that you’ll have to move to another city two provinces over in a month’s time to assume the new position.

As a consequence, you’re scrambling. Not only do you have to move yourself, your family and all your chattels to a new, unfamiliar city, but you have to sell your home with little preparation time and in a highly competitive market.

And the kicker is that you’re going to have to sell your home in late fall/early winter, which is a time when its appeal is (supposedly) at its lowest ebb.

Well, take heart. There’s a number of simple ways you can spruce up your home to make it attractive to prospective home buyers at a time when the grass is brown, trees are leafless and the weather is chilly.

The first thing to remember is that most buyers are looking for a home that’s well-kept and orderly. That perception — that a home is well-maintained both inside and out — creates a feeling of confidence that literally puts the welcome mat out for people, said REALTOR® Renee Dewar.

“Make sure your home is kept up by doing seasonal maintenance,” she advised. “Do normal seasonal jobs such as cleaning out gutters, washing windows, covering the air conditioner and raking leaves.

“Things you would always do before the snow arrives.”

Then — heaven forbid that it would snow in early November (but it has, and might) — be prepared to wield a shovel. “If it snows, shovel the driveway and walkways. Even shovel the back yard patio, as it allows potential buyers to still be able to easily move around the yard when looking at the home’s exterior,” added Dewar. “Buyers notice when everything looks and feels good.”

Realtor Alan Reiss said that one of the keys to selling a home during the fall and winter is warmth. “Make sure your home is warm and inviting for showings. If you have a fireplace, keep it running. If you don’t have a fireplace, light a few candles and place them in strategic spots where they can add warmth.”

He added that festive decor can also add appeal. “During the holiday season, it is a good idea to decorate, but don’t go over the top. You want people to visualize the home being theirs, so make sure the decorations are tasteful. Something as simple as a nicely-decorated tree with some presents under it and a few stockings hung on the mantel over the fireplace can work wonders.”

Dewar concurred with the concept of creating a warm environment for prospective buyers to walk into.

“Do what you can to give your home a feeling of cosiness and a welcoming ambience,” she said. “Do some Christmas baking, brew some hot apple cider, or if you even just have an electric fireplace in the family room that has a warm glow, put it on. If you get a warm, welcoming feeling walking in, chances are a potential buyer will, too.”

It also pays to remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression, added Realtor Charlene Urbanski. “Impressions right at your front door can speak volumes,” she said. “So make sure to rake the lawn or shovel the walk if it snows. If weather permits, make sure the home’s exterior is painted and that any outside fix-ups are done.”

Reiss said snowy surroundings can also create an opportunity to showcase what your home looks like during the summer months when everything is in full bloom.

“Have summer photos available to show key areas around your home if you have them — the big in-ground pool, huge deck, beautifully-landscaped yard, your amazing garden. They may be snow covered, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell those features to potential buyers.”

Urbanski said there’s one more thing to do when selling your home in the fall, or at any time of year, for that matter. “Listen to your Realtor when pricing your home. There’s plenty of inventory now, which means buyers have a lot of homes to choose from. If a Realtor does a market analysis that shows your home should be priced at certain figure, go with that price. If your home is priced right, and you do the work required to get it ready and stand out, then your home should sell in a reasonable amount of time.”