How smart vendors embrace the cold, dark days to fire up interest from buyers.
Winter: the days are colder and darker, the nights are longer and it’s a time of year when activity in the housing market typically takes a bit of a breather. But it’s no contradiction to say that it can also be a great time to sell your property.
If you embrace the season and get it working for you as you present your property as a warm and homely haven, you stand to reap the benefits of some powerful seasonal advantages.
Winter home seekers tend to be more motivated to buy; a seasonal drop in listings means you’ll potentially face less competition from other vendors; and cold, dark and wet conditions present an opportunity to warm up buyers with a statement in cosiness.
Many experienced real estate agents will tell you that your typical buyer – whether they’re conscious of it or not – will shop with all their senses when they’re at an open home. A warm, dry, well-lit and well-presented home will make an instant impression when they walk in from the cold.
Would-be buyers who are prepared to brave wintery conditions to house-hunt are already more committed than those who go out in other seasons.
If you can draw them in and present your home as a stand-out haven that radiates cosiness, warmth and light you will go a long way towards securing a great sale.
Industry data confirms that, despite perceptions to the contrary, properties do sell in winter and, amid fewer competing listings, can fetch good prices.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data shows it took a median of 37 days to sell a property in August last year, only slightly longer than the 35 day median across 2018 as a whole.
Despite the seasonal dip in sales volumes, national median prices last August lifted in 14 out of 16 regions and were up nationally by 3.6 percent year-on-year. The month saw Auckland post its first year-on-year median price rise in six months (up 1.4 percent, to $852,000). In Northland – often referred to as the ‘winterless north’ – the August warm-up was more pronounced, with prices up 7.1 percent.
As with any other season, the key to a successful sale in winter is to present your property at its best and make it stand out from the pack. Given that the colder months put a particular focus on the interior, this is a season where an investment in professional staging can be particularly profitable.
To help vendors exploit the hidden advantages of the cooler months, Bayleys salespeople have pooled their experience to offer some expert tips for a successful winter sale.
Help buyers see the light
Natural light is in relatively short supply, given the season. Vendors should make the most of what there is by ensuring all windows are clean and unimpeded, with curtains and blinds fully open. Prune back any trees or plants outside that throw unwanted shade. Hold open homes in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and brightest.
Supplement the available natural light with plenty of warm, bright internal lighting, plus mirrors which can multiply the impression of brightness and space. If fixed lighting is not enough, adding lamps can help to liven up any rooms or corners that are particularly dark. A strategically placed vase of fresh flowers will add colour and cheer, while potted plants can provide a season-defying flourish of greenery and life.
Warm and dry
Any hint of dampness or visible mould will be an instant turn-off to potential buyers. Address any dampness issues in advance, including dealing with signs of mould in bathrooms, on ceilings or around window frames. Check all of your soft furnishings; if you don’t spot those black marks on the back of curtains, an inquisitive would-be buyer will.
Open up doors and windows to give your home a good airing in the lead-up to viewings, then turn on heating throughout the property to make sure it’s warm and inviting when potential buyers come through. If you have one, nothing says cosy like the glowing embers and dancing flames of a wood burner or fireplace. You might consider lighting a scented candle to add to the atmosphere and mask any vestige of dampness.
You can build further on the impression of homeliness and winter comfort by deploying warm-looking quilts, duvets and blankets on beds, couches and shelving throughout the home. Add luxuriant rugs to rooms with large wooden floors. Interesting coffee table books and magazines will further invite home viewers to imagine this as a place they could curl up in comfort on a frosty morning.
A similar principle applies to outdoor areas, where you will also want to eliminate anything that looks damp, dull or dead. Get to work with a water blaster or suitable cleaning product to eliminate any build-up of lichen, moss or mould on the building’s exterior, decking, driveway, paths and fences. Keep an eye on these areas as your sales campaign progresses, as the unwanted green sheen can quickly return if conditions are right.
Garden areas can tend to look a bit lifeless in winter. Remove any dead and fallen leaves, prune back trees, hedges or any other plants that are untidy or putting areas in unnecessary shade. You can also add a splash of colour by planting pots or prominent garden areas with eye-catching winter bloomers such as polyanthus, pansies or lobelias.
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