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Seal the deal this winter

by: Vern Uyetake, Sell your home this winter with the help of local real estate agents.

Local real estate agents from Windermere Cronin and Caplan, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties and Advanced Real Estate Services dish the goods on how to sell a home in the middle of winter.

'It is good to remember that while there are fewer buyers out looking (for a new house) in the winter, those that do are serious prospects. People don't go out into the rain and brave the elements at this time of the year for fun,' said Dianne Gregoire, Advanced Real Estate Services.

'They also only move in the winter if they really have to. So the buyers who are out looking at this time of year are serious people who are motivated by other circumstances that make a winter move necessary.'

Call a snow plow and moving truck.

With some quick approach strategies you may be handing over your house keys sooner than you thought.

Warm Guests up to your home:

Potential buyers enter your home they should feel relaxed.

'Keep the home warm and at a comfortable temperature so when agents show buyers (the home) it will feel cozy,' said Terri Milholm, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties.

A comfortable air temperature should keep visitors to your home thinking about how cozy they might feel living in it as opposed to worrying if the home heater works.

'A fire in the fireplace gives the perception of a warm, cozy home,' said Beth Gelfand, Windermere Cronin and Caplan. 'Sellers want the prospective buyers to depart with a feeling of, 'I would love to live in that home.''

Clean and remove clutter:

When someone is touring your home for sale they want to visualize themselves living there. Photos splashed upon the refrigerator of grandma, your dog Fido at the beach and a newborn baby make them envision your family living there, not theirs.

These items also add clutter.

'Remove all small objects, clear off counters, reduce content in cupboards, minimize furniture to create visual space, remove fallen leaves and weeds,' said Patti Beckham, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties.

Surfaces should be clean, de-personalized and immaculate. The yard should also be in order.

'Wash all of the windows, inside and out. Clean window tracks, interior of ovens and dishwashers - every surface,' said Gregoire.

Flowers add color and fragrance:

Winter rain, snow and ice may have the garden looking a bit sparse - and that's understandable. So pretty up what you can around the front porch and inside using plants and flowers.

'Flowers in the kitchen or on the dining table can help to convey a home's well-being and friendliness,' said Jean Ashby, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties. 'Window flower boxes give dimension and texture to the exterior; think about homes in Europe. Those fabulous window flower boxes captivate our attention and make us feel good.'

Use a professional team to make sale:

Local agents suggest using a local real estate agent to take care of the dirty work - phone calls, paperwork, marketing, networking, knowledge or local market trends and attracting buyers interested in your type of home.

'Sellers in our transitioning market need an agent who not only creates a plan but has the knowledge, experience and resources to implement the system and make it work,' said Alby Heredia, Heredia Realty Group, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties. 'A good stager can work with individual spaces or entire homes to organize, design or create comfortable areas that will be appealing to the broadest pool of potential buyers.'

A staging professional uses techniques to showcase the finer parts of your home. Staging is the process of preparing any home for sale, regardless of price or location.

Provide easy access:

Showing your home to potential buyers should not be an unsolved mystery. Make sure a key is available to real estate agents with easy access.

'Allow a lockbox to be placed on the property and provide shoe covers if you're worried about muddy footprints. Allow agents access with or without their clients,' said Heredia. 'If an agent brings clients to your home while you're there, allow them access and privacy. A professional agent knows their client's wants and has the necessary skills to sell your beautiful home.'

Price the home right:

'Price it for the current market trend,' said Barbara Sue Seal, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties.

And have realistic expectations when home pricing.

'In order to sell your home in the winter - especially in January and February - the home must be priced right,' said Janet Brown, Advanced Real Estate Services.

Heredia said that homes that start closest to the true market value tend to sell quicker and for more money than homes that start too high and (require) price drops before they are competitive with other homes for sale.

Repair everything:

Home buying in the winter is hassle enough - rain, icy roads, cold days.

Don't allow your home for sale to be another hassle.

'Make sure everything is in top repair with no dripping faucets, clogged gutters or areas of the home that red-flag a buyer that the house is going to need a lot of work,' said Gregoire.

Simple projects such as un-clogging drains, repairing fallen gutters, replacing light bulbs and fixing address numbers can leave a lasting impression.

Creating an accent wall could also be effective.

'Paint is the best way to dress up a home. Check out model homes to see what is new and popular,' said Kathryn Rosendahl and Michele Tumpane, Windermere Cronin and Caplan.

Appetizers and cider:

'Set out an appetizer with warm apple cider for the buyers' agent and the buyer,' said Suzie Capuzzi, Coldwell Banker Barbara Sue Seal Properties.

A snack could provide extra time for buyers to chat with their real estate agent at your home.

Light and Bright:

Showcase the home's lighting schemes.

'The minute you open the front door you should see lots of light - shades up, lamps on, overhead lights on too,' said Sally Knauss, Windermere Cronin and Caplan. 'People will feel at home and won't notice it's not summer outside.'

Purchase some lamps for dark corners. Potential buyers can see different aspects to the home easily.

'Turn on as many lights as possible and leave them on,' said Robin Weisgerber, Windermere Cronin and Caplan. 'Especially those lights under counters, above the sinks, dark closets and even the garage and front porch.'

Appealing photos:

'Potential buyers will likely see your home online before they drive by or have an agent show it to them so appealing photos are critical,' said Ron Ares, Advanced Real Estate Services.

After a day of house hunting give the buyer something to take home and remember the house by - some photos or a flyer with pertinent information is helpful.

A tangible item - such as a photo or list of amenities - ensures the buyer will glance at the home again after leaving.