As a seller, you want to do everything your time and your budget will allow to maximize the price you will receive for your home, and to shorten the length of time it takes to make that happen. Just because it is winter does not make the rules change. So, just like the rest of the year, you want to make your home look as attractive as possible. Today I want to concentrate on the exterior.
First, all of the usual apply: the paint and roof need to be in good condition with no peeling, moss or damage. The lawn needs to be mowed and edged. Trees and shrubs need to be trimmed back to enhance the house and not hide it. Please, please, please rake up and dispose of leaves and tree needles. I have shown homes that are literally buried in leaves. Why would any seller allow that to happen? It is insane. The only correction, beyond getting busy and fixing the situation, is to drop the price. I am serious when I say that a yard that needs leaf removal can cost a seller $10,000. A hard weekend of work or $10,000….hmmmmmm…. it seems pretty obvious to me. Leaving the messy leaves and needles all over the yard makes buyers think that this house needs work. And the compensation they want when they are going to have to do work is money.
Second, there are things you can do, at very little expense, that can actually make that winter yard both inviting and attractive:
Add splashes of color
Consider planting winter kale or pansies in the planters and boarders of your garden. At the holidays, festive decorations are both inviting and attractive, but do not go over board. You don’t want your house to scream “yard sale” rather than Happy Holidays.
Give it seasonal sparkle
Consider using winter greens (which you can often get free from the Christmas tree lots), along with holly and cones in otherwise dormant planters and window boxes.
Show off your garden’s livability
Do set out your yard furniture and tables. Keep them clean and inviting. You may not be actually using them much, but your buyer will look at the back deck or patio and quickly see it is a place to be enjoyed. Do not cover the yard furniture with plastic to resemble large rocks or meteorites that randomly plopped into the yard. You want the deck and patio to look like an extension of the living space in the house.
Keep the pathways clear
On extreme days, beyond raking leaves and needles, this may involve shoveling snow. Realtors and their clients need to be able to get to the house!
Keep decks and patios in good repair
Treat the wood so that is fresh and clean. You may need to replace rotted wood or even the entire deck. In this market a rotted deck will quickly turn off picky buyers. Again, you’ll probably loose more in price than the cost of the work. And this is the time of year when moss is a problem on both decks and patios, making them slippery and dangerous. Clean them up.
Light it bright
With the shortened days, it may be dusk or dark when buyers visit your home. Turn on all outside lights and consider adding a few temporary spot lights to focus on the homes architecture and landscaping.
Yard statuary helps, a lot
I don’t want to suggest that you go out and buy a bunch of garden art. But if you have it, make it visible. Place it where it will draw the buyers eyes out into the yard to see the flower beds and the features of the yard. You don’t want to allow the yard art to be too much or messy (again, not a garage sale), but creatively placed, even simple and inexpensive pieces such as drift wood, river rock, and small statuary will add a lot.
Create a photo display of sunny days
Set this up inside where it can be easily found and enjoyed. If you have a prized rose garden, let your buyer know that by showing a photo of the garden in full bloom.
The percentage of sellers who take the time to make their garden look good in the winter is very small. So when you do it, you will stand out. And that is a big factor that will play in your favor. I think the trick in selling a home is to know the market and then know how to work it to your advantage.
Best of the season, in all of its winter glory, to you.
P.S. Thank you G.B. for sharing your beautiful garden with me. It was a total pleasure to meet you this morning. What wonderful ideas you have!
P.S.S. Further information can be found at www.Realtor.org/realtormag