Secrets for selling your home in the winter

By Geoff Kirbyson

If the opinion of visiting NHL players is any indication, it’ll be tougher to sell your house during the winter than it is in the spring or summer.

According to a new poll of professional hockey players from ESPN, Winnipeg is the least desirable road trip on the NHL schedule with 42 per cent
of players placing it at the top. Or maybe that’s the bottom.

Buffalo was next at 34 per cent followed by Edmonton at 10 per cent and Calgary and Ottawa at four per cent each.

“Winnipeg. It’s always cold,” one player said. “Tough rink to play in. It’s just dirty — you walk around the city and feel like you need to wash your face after you go outside. So nothing about it is very exciting.”

With all due respect to this anonymous player, we know it’s cold in the winter here and the sand we put on the roads can make it dirty at times. When snowplows pile up dirty snow in front of our houses, we realize it doesn’t make would-be buyers speed-dial their mortgage brokers.

That’s why it’s important to prepare your house properly if you plan to sell it before the playoffs start. The top priority, according to Catherine Schellenberg, president-elect of WinnipegREALTORS®, is making sure it’s accessible to all visitors to walk around.

“Put salt down on the walk way, keep it clear. (Would-be buyers) aren’t going to be able to walk around the whole back yard but they need to be able to access the garage,” she said.

“You don’t know who your buyer is going to be. They might have accessibility issues. Having unkept walkways is not only a hazard but it could cause the agent to cancel the appointment and move on to the next property.”

So, if you’re not able to do the shovelling yourself, hire somebody.

Once people have successfully navigated your
immaculate sidewalk, they’ll want to walk into a cozy house so make sure to man the thermostat appropriately.

“There’s nothing worse for a potential buyer than to walk in and it’s freezing,” Schellenberg said.

You can’t do anything about the dwindling sunlight that comes through your windows during the shorter days but you can make sure that your house is well-lit. You might also want to do your best to have your house available for showings early on a weekday or during the day on the weekend.

If you have a fireplace, put it on because it presents a nice ambiance. Make sure you have plenty of outdoor mats just inside the front and back doors for boots as well as places for visitors to hang their jackets — unless you don’t want visitors to be there very long. (Hint: you want them there for as long as possible.)

And just because it’s winter outside doesn’t mean you can’t tantalize your visitors with what your house looks like in July. So, sprinkle summertime pictures of your yard and special features, such as a vine-covered gazebo or a rose garden, around the house. The same principle applies if you’ve got tulips blooming in the spring or beautiful fall colours on your trees.

Sellers should’t feel any pressure to list their homes in the spring. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. put together a report recently noting that the traditional family has changed and so has the traditional time to put your home on the market.

“There are a lot of single people and couples without kids buying homes. If they find their dream home in November, (they’ll buy it). If you’re transitioning from a home to a condo, I find people are more open to year-round shopping. If you’re moving into multi-family buildings, you don’t have to worry about the outdoor space because that’s done for you.
You can’t always gauge when you have to sell, the reasons could be health-related or an estate sale
or a job. So many things could force the sale of a property,” she said.