Winter Curb Appeal Tips for Selling Your Home
Curb appeal can be an intimidating aspect of selling a house, but it can be even more challenging when you add cold, snow, gray skies, wind, and minimal sunlight to the equation. After all, first impressions are everything when you’re the seller and it only takes a patch of ice or dimly lit porch to turn off potential homebuyers. Winter curb appeal is tricky; however, the experts at Amy Stockberger Real Estate (ASRE) are here to help with tips for selling your home during the winter months.
Clear a Path
This first one may seem like commonsense and probably should be done regardless of whether or not you’re selling your home. Clearing away all snow and ice from your driveway, sidewalks, and any other pathway to the house is not only safe, but it will also improve the outer appearance of your home.
Declutter Your Home, Inside and Out
Of course you should clean and declutter the inside of your home before it’s time to show, but tidying up the exterior of your property is just as important. How would you like to pull up to a house and see a shovel sticking out of a snowbank, kids’ toys strewn across the yard, lawn chairs covered in snow, and/or all of the above? A sloppy exterior could accidentally give prospective homebuyers the wrong impression about what the rest of your home is like.
Perform Any Necessary Maintenance
Chances are you will have a maintenance checklist already in place when it comes time to sell, and exterior items can be crucial. First, clear out all of your gutters and downspouts. In addition to looking nice, this task will also alert you to any leaking or damage. Next, while you have the latter out, remove any dead leaves or other unsightly debris from your roof. Lastly, make sure all windows and doors (and garage doors, if applicable) are functioning properly. Check for any loose handles, broken latches, unusual noises, or any other red flags for potential homebuyers.
Maintain Your Lawn
If you are selling your home in late fall or winter, try to maintain your lawn for as long as possible. The unpredictable weather of the Midwest can make this very difficult, but if there isn’t any snow on the ground and the first thing potential homebuyers see is brown, dead grass, that’s a first impression you don’t want to make. However, this scenario can be unavoidable at times so here are a few tips to draw attention away from a displeasing lawn:
- Remove any weeds or dead leaves
- Add a couple of artificial plants or faux topiary to your front porch
- Place colored gravel or mulch around plant, tree, and flower beds
- Use pine cones for the same effect, while also adding texture to the yard
Try to keep your lawn green for as long as possible by applying fertilizer and seed in late August or early September—before the cold temperatures hit.
Add Plant Life
When Old Man Winter has deadened your grass or covered your lawn with snow, add some plant life to spruce things up. You could opt for small evergreens and cold-weather plants with colorful berries or faux topiaries and potted plants with elegant lights draped over top. It could also be something as simple as a wreath on your front door. (It doesn’t have to be Christmas to hang a decorative wreath!) Adding plant life—or an artificial substitute—will bring a pop of color to the outside of your home while also creating a more inviting front porch.
Light the Way
The winter months tend to be gray and dreary with less sunlight. The last thing you want prospective homebuyers to see is a dark or poorly lit house. Besides enhancing your home’s appearance, brighter lights are more inviting and keep your property safer. That’s why it's important to walk around your entire house to ensure all lights are working properly and check for bulbs that need replacing. This is also a great opportunity to update/upgrade your sconces or fixtures and possibly hang a stylish lantern or two on your front porch. One more thing to consider is sidewalk lighting if you have a pathway that leads to your front door. If you're selling your home during the holidays it's a bonus opportunity for illumination. Just be sure to exercise caution and not over do it with the string lights and decorations.
Creating winter curb appeal is all about adding warmth and color to your home during a time of gray skies and freezing temperatures. Could your mailbox use a new coat of paint? When was the last time you updated your house numbers? Do you have a good spot for a brightly-colored birdhouse or bird feeder? Even renting a power-washer to knock the dirt off your brick and/or siding can add new life to your house. Remember, this is your home’s first impression and even the smallest accent could make a big difference.
Although it presents its fair share of challenges, winter can be a great time to sell your home. You probably have a checklist of things to take care of before you list your house and curb appeal should be a top priority. It’s like the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This may sound corny but it’s also true. Your winter curb appeal should be welcoming and draw in potential homebuyers.
- Laurie Tidemann