Planning to list your home for sale this winter? Don't be discouraged by the general opinion that home buying's prime seasons are spring and summer. Selling in winter has benefits to you as a seller. Let's make sure you take advantage of them.

You're ahead of the game

Buyers looking for a new home in winter tend to be more serious buyers. They might want to get a jump on the springtime buying push, or they might want to make a purchase before the end of the year for tax purposes. As a seller, you'll have fewer properties to compete with. 

Real estate agents can be less busy and able to give your listing more personal attention and marketing. People like appraisers, inspectors, and real estate photographers are less busy as well.

Large corporations tend to relocate executives in January and February. Often these moves are financially subsidized by the company. These relocation packages can make it easy for buyers to make a decision and pay more.  

If you need minor repairs, it will be less difficult in slow months to find tradespeople and laborers. With 13.9% of moves occurring in the month of June in 2016 and just 3.3% in December, you're likely to have an easier time hiring a moving company.

Staging techniques for winter

Now's a good time to stage your home to remind buyers what it looks like in all seasons. If you have a photo or two of your home or parts of your landscape in different seasons, get them to your listing agent so they can be part of your online photos. This is especially effective if your home gets lots of snow in winter but there are many blooming trees and flowers in your landscape in the other seasons. 

Collect your documents and warrantees for any energy-efficient upgrades your home has, such as solar heating features, improved insulation, programmable thermostats, new windows or exterior doors, and ductwork in good condition. Any impressive specifications you can pass along to your listing agent can become part of her promotional material. Many buyers will want to see a history of energy bills, so be prepared to supply those and check that they are accurate.  

Buyers will respond well to images of what your
property looks like in other seasons, especially to people
relocating from other climates. Photo:

If you want to make your life easier, plan your wintertime staging in the fall. Plan it so that the basics are in place and can be tweaked as you move through November and December. Remove obvious signs of summer. Get rid of  Halloween decor on November 1. Add touches of winter-themed props to carry you through the last two months of the year and into the early months of next year. 

Stage it cozy. Keep your house warm when you expect a showing. Winter's shorter days mean you can't count on natural lighting to make your interior look bright and clean, so keep the wattage high in overhead lights, sconces, and table lamps. I discourage the use of candles, but battery-operated flameless candles are very convincing and add a homey touch to any room.

An assortment of white, flameless candles makes even
a non-working fireplace an asset. Photo: Shelterness

Winterize your curb appeal

Unless you live in a mild climate, you won't have the advantage of the colorful annuals of spring, summer and fall. Now is the time for greenery that will withstand lower temperatures. You can also fill flower boxes and planters near your door with real foliage trimmings and branches or with small, living shrubs acclimatized to your temperatures. Sprays of cut evergreens and pruning from common shrubs like boxwoods will last for weeks in most climates when their stems are stuck into pots of soil or sand. 

As an alternative, there's always artificial greens. Yes, they will fade in time outdoors, but will look fine through the winter, so go ahead and invest in some silks for your outdoor staging. You can even mix real plants and prunings with artificial greenery. I've blogged about how to create professional outdoor decor in five easy steps.  

Also, be sure to check my post about my five favorite 15-minute holiday decorations for winter.  

It's easy to find ready-made arrangements like these.
Or you can purchase the faux greenery and other essentials 
and use almost any kind of container to create
your own outdoor decor. Photo: Ballard Designs

With all the lights and seasonal decorations dressing up houses in December, neighborhoods look especially friendly and safe. Don't be that one guy on the street who doesn't string up some lights out front. Most Realtors recommend that sellers keep winter decorations secular, since buyers prefer dealing with people they like and who share their values. Be sure to remove all Christmas decor by the first of the new year. 

Keep your landscape looking tidy. By now, you should have removed leaves and branches that fell during the fall. Trim the trees and shrubbery, especially those near the entrance. Pressure wash your siding, sidewalk, and driveway. If you have barren areas or an informal pathway, add a top dressing of river rock for a clean, non-messy look. Keep cobwebs and debris away from the front door. Be sure the entrance is not dangerously slippery. 

I've already blogged about more ways to improve your winter curb appeal.   

All homes need a facelift    

Seasons come and go, no matter where you live. It's a simple task to make your home reflect the time of year indoors and out. Replace flower-patterned throw pillows and bedding with fabrics that have some texture and warmth. Choose pillows, bedding, and throws that are quilted, or that feature wintery designs like plaids, paisleys, and buffalo checks. Stage your mantel and hearth if you have a fireplace. Scent the air with a diffuser using winter fragrances such as pine, cinnamon, and nutmeg essential oils. 

Natural woods, a cozy layout, a faux bear skin rug, and 
oversized gingham bedding make this room feel warm and snug.

To keep your decorating chores and cleanup work to a minimum, choose winter embellishments that last beyond the December holidays. Look for natural elements of the season like evergreens, pine comes, dried berries, and spice potpourris or pomanders. Combine those fuzzy, knobby, and textured fabrics with some animal skins that are stylish year-round as pillows and rugs, but look especially suitable in winter.  

Textured fabrics and faux furs can be placed over chairs,
beds, or sofas. They can be folded into stacks on
the hearth.They can be used to cover seats or pillows.
And they can cover the floor or be layered over other
rugs or carpets. Photo: unknown source

If you live where winters are snowy and muddy, and you expect buyers touring your home to take shoes and boots off, provide disposable booties and have a place to sit near your entrance. Any coat hooks or cubbies that are part of your mudroom or foyer should look uncluttered and attractive. It's a tall order in a household that includes children, but it's still doable if you stick to what's essential for outerwear.   

Your hallway bench can be primitive or fancy, 
simple or ornate, small or roomy. It's just a sign
of courtesy to people visiting. Photo: Love Grows Wild.

A wintery wreath is a must on your front door or near your entrance, and possibly in the kitchen or entry or a bedroom as well. Buy a finished one, or buy a basic one and personalize it yourself, or DIY your own greenery wreath from a basic form, as I show you here. 

This mostly artificial wreath from The Wreath Depot will last for many years if stored properly after winter is over. 

Get the look, get the book

No matter what time of year you plan to list your home for sale, it's never too soon to plan your staging and other prepping ahead of schedule. Download my home staging eBooks for nuts and bolts advice as well as can-do inspiration for DIY projects that increase the perceived value of your home. 

Top photo: