Adapt Your Home to Its Selling Season

Play up your home's amenities for the season in which you choose to sell.

There's a selling myth that you should wait till springtime to sell your home. While spring is the busiest season for real estate sales, people buy homes 365 days a year. If you decide you need to sell your home in the off-peak season, emphasize its seasonal amenities.

Choose Your Selling Season

Because many buyers prefer to move in the spring or summer, the market starts to heat up as early as February. Families with children are eager to buy so they can move during summer vacation, before the new school year begins.

The market slows down in late summer before picking up again briefly in the fall. November and December are traditionally slow months, although some astute buyers look for bargains during this period.

Despite these trends, not everyone's situation will be the same. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • How quickly do I need to move? If you need to relocate quickly for a new job or family emergency, you'll need to sell as quickly as possible. If your moving dates are more flexible, you may be able to get a higher sale price in the spring or summer.
  • What season will your home be most desirable? If you're selling a lake or beach home, for sale homes will be most in-demand in the early spring and summer months. A ski chalet in Aspen would make more buyers bite during wintertime.

Once you've chosen your selling season, play up its perks!

Master these tips for a successful home sale no matter what season it is:

Winter Selling Tips

  • Clear snow and ice away from walkways and stairs. If you live in an area with lots of snow and ice, keep walking areas salted and shoveled. Buyers and agents want to see that your home is well maintained, and, of course, you're not likely to wow a house hunter if they fall on the way in and break a leg. Learn more about boosting your winter curb appeal.
  • Stage it outside. Even if the grass is brown and the patio is snow-covered, you can still do some outdoor staging. Tasteful winter wreaths and garlands can make your home seem welcoming. Just like inside the house, pick decorations that will appeal to a wide variety of buyers -- blow-up snow globes and giant plastic Santas are probably no-nos. Learn more about staging for the holidays.
  • Make it cozy.
  • When it's cold outside, a toasty, warm interior is sure to appeal to buyers. If you have a wood or gas stove or fireplace, a showing or open house is the perfect time to light it up and show it off. Burn some scented candles and place warm, fuzzy throws on the furniture to make your house seem even homier.
  • Clean up your windows.
  • In the winter, dull, dusty windows can go unnoticed. Making them sparkling clean will let much-needed light in. You can have a gorgeous room, but if the windows are dirty, it won't look as beautiful or as bright. Pull back dark window treatments and adding a shade or valance for a touch of color. Or, you can also replace window treatments with ecru or white sheers for an elegant look.

Fall Selling Tips

  • Keep your lawn in shape. Just because summer is over doesn't mean you should abandon your lawn. Patch up any brown spots in the grass, and keep falling leaves at bay with frequent raking.
  • Get a fall garden. As your summer plants start to fade, replace them with vibrant mums or other colorful plants. Tasteful fall decorations, like pumpkins or tri-colored corn, can also add to your home's curb appeal.
  • Get indoor fall decorations, too. Without breaking the bank, get a few fall-colored decorations, like inexpensive window treatments or seasonal dinnerware. Fresh decor will make your space seem current and well-maintained.
  • Repair outside lights. As the days get shorter, you may end up showing your home in the dark. Make sure your outdoor lights are clean and working -- if they're dirty or broken, buyers will get a bad feeling before they even come inside.
  • Keep exterior photos of your home up-to-date. If you listed your home in the summer, update your online photos with brand new fall shots. Pictures from the previous season make your listing seem dated.

Spring Staging Tips

  • Whip your yard into shape. When you're selling in the spring, you need to get your yard in shape as quickly as possible. Clear winter yard debris, and get frost-resistant plants that won't be affected if a late cold spell hits. Or, invest in silk flowers for a touch of color that you don't have to worry about watering.
  • Do some spring cleaning. It's natural to want to spruce up your space in the spring, so scrub away! A sparkling home will impress buyers and make your home seem even more appealing.
  • Box up your winter wardrobe. Bulky winter clothes take up lots of space, so move them out as you de-clutter your closets. You'll impress buyers with all that space.
  • Spruce up the entryway. If your welcome mat is covered with winter dirt, pick up a new one. A clean, pretty doorway will help set the tone for the entire showing.
  • Bring spring aromas indoors. Spring is not only a colorful season, but a fragrant one, too. Bring the aroma indoors. Scents have a profound effect on mood, so infusing scent into your decor with diffusers, candles, fresh cut plants/flowers, or incense can change the overall feeling of a space.
  • Bring out the bright colors. Tuck away the heavy, winter flannel comforter and pull out crisp linens with coverlets for color. Bring in the spring with floral-designed spreads or colorful solids. Don't forget accent pillows for added style and comfort.

Summer Staging Tips

  • Highlight your outdoor areas. This is your outdoor space's chance to shine. Clean your deck, porch, patio or outdoor kitchen, and repaint or make repairs if necessary. No deck? Arrange chairs or outdoor furniture in your yard to create the illusion of an outdoor room. Make necessary repairs to your home's exterior, including your siding and windows.
  • Play up the pool. A pool is a huge selling point during the sweltering days of summer. Keep yours clean and debris-free, and create a seating area near the pool where buyers can imagine themselves floating through the cool water.
  • Spruce up your landscaping. Make sure your lawn and flower beds aren't languishing in the summer heat. Add pops of color to your entryway with potted plants.
  • Add value and security with lighting. Frame your walkways and driveways with lights for a stylish touch.
  • Don't skimp on the air conditioning. House hunters will want to escape the heat so make sure your home is nice and cool. Set the thermostat at a comfortable level, so it doesn't feel like an ice box either.
  • Provide refreshments. Even though you likely won't be home for a showing, greet buyers like you would party guests. During the dog days of summer, set out a cool pitcher of lemonade for buyers. Anything you can do to make them linger a little longer can only help you sell.
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