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10 tips for winter home sales

Summertime isn't the only season to market your house. If you plan to sell during the winter months, consider these tips to help prospective buyers choose your house as their new home.

Tip 1 You can sell your house during the "off season."

"Keep in mind most buyers looking this time of year will have a genuine need to move," says Dee Copley, Realtor with Esquivel and Associates. She used to see a drop-off in the number of homes for sale during the winter months, but that trend is changing.

Tip 2 Have good and open communication with your real estate agent.

After 23 years in the real estate business, Dee Dirks with Tom Malot Real Estate and Construction LLC in Central Point knows the ups and downs of seasonal sales cycles. What she considers most important is a good relationship between sellers and their Realtor. "Sellers need to let their broker know the motivation behind selling their home, especially if an illness, divorce, foreclosure or bankruptcy is in the picture." She believes honesty about your motivation leads to the best strategy for presenting your home - no matter what the season.

Tip 3 Curb appeal.

Although winter yards may look a little bleak this time of year, a neat and clean yard adds curb appeal to your home. Clean up leaves and other leftover summer yard debris.

Winter pansies and mums are long-lasting flowers that add curb appeal to any property. Plant pansies in flowerbeds near your front door or place decorative containers of bright flowers at the entry to say, "Welcome!"

Tip 4 Take pictures!

If your landscaping or garden is the gem of the house but it's not presenting itself well during the winter months, Dee Dirks recommends you show off your accomplishment by displaying colorful garden photos taken during the flowering seasons. Those pictures can be worth more than a thousand words - and maybe, thousands of dollars toward your selling price!

Tip 5 De-clutter your home.

Your precious collection of dolls or dishes may be a prospective buyer's definition of clutter. "I recommend that the homeowner always stage the home, which means de-cluttering the home, and tidying up every day..." recommends Dee Copley. And agent Dirks suggests a short-term storage unit rental may be the best place to store excess furniture, accessories, clothing, bicycles and items cluttering your garage.

Tip 6 Get rid of those lingering odors!

Dirks strongly recommends sellers eliminate any type of bad odor from a home. While the house is on the market, litter boxes and pet food may need to be moved to the garage or a sheltered deck. She likes to have fresh scents permeate a house, especially the smell of fragrant, baked goods.

Tip 7 Welcome prospective buyers.

Prospective buyers appreciate a warm welcome to your home. Before buyers arrive, turn on all the lights in your home, set your thermostat at a comfortable temperature and check that all counter spaces in the kitchen and bathrooms are clutter-free. Dee Copley likes to leave a basket of shoe covers at the front door to allow guests to feel comfortable about entering your home on wet days.

Tip 8 Practice patience.

"It is a very inconvenient time of year to market a home, especially due to the holidays..." reminds Copley. However, you can celebrate the holidays and allow buyers to view your home. According to Copley, "...Most agents try very hard to be considerate of your scheduling needs. Communication is the key; I have seen some very interesting showing instructions posted to the agents...."

Tip 9 Give them some parking

Allow prospective buyers to easily park and enter your home. Move cars out of the driveway and down the street before potential homeowners visit. Remove clutter away from doorways and invest in new doormats at all entries.

Tip 10 Selling or buying a home is an emotional experience.

"When someone looks at a house, they want to feel their family will be comfortable in the new home," says Dee Dirks. Her best advice to sellers is: "Allow the prospective buyers to experience your whole house. Buyers want to feel like, 'This is a good thing'- just like Martha!"

10 tips for winter home sales