Winter need not be a difficult time to sell your home. With an organised and well-executed marketing plan, you can tempt prospective buyers away from their festive preparations, and dark nights and poor weather can be overcome to present your home in the best possible light. Daniel Killick, Manager of the Kew branch of London lettings and estate agency Chestertons, shares his tips on making your home attractive to buyers in winter, and how to get ahead of the competition to get your property in front of the widest possible audience:
Timing is everything
It's a great strategy when clients come to us seeking to bring their home to market just before the festive break. For one thing there's next to no competition in the market place, while web activity of people beginning their property search can be up to ten times higher than the average over the two-week break. People are at home with their families and starting to think about making that big move – so why wait until the New Year?
Daylight savings time
As soon as the clocks go back in late October, many people think the house-hunting merry-go-round grinds to a halt. That's not the case, but you do have to maximise the daytime viewings if you can. Keep weekends clear and make sure your agent is available for daytime viewings in the week. Don't forget the week between Christmas and New Year; many people are just beginning the online property search process at this time of year, so make it clear you're available to take viewings and get those festive first-footers around.
Let there be light
If you're taking viewings after work, natural daylight is not on your side, but prospective buyers will still want to get a good look at the condition of the internal features and décor. Create the warm, cosy and subtly lit feel that everyone loves to come home to by introducing extra sources of light into each room. Low-level table lamps and large floor lamps will create the feeling of space, while spotlights will highlight key features. Fairy lights can accentuate features such as beams or fireplaces, or twinkle enticingly in windows, doorways or porches.
Baby it's cool outside
While a buyer might not have big plans for any garden or outdoor space right now, overlook it at your peril. Anywhere with the potential for summer barbecues offering extra outdoor storage shouldn't be forgotten about just because it's a bit parky out. A set of solar garden lamps can illuminate paths, shrubs or rockeries, while spotlights tilted upwards or a row of simple fairy lights can make more of trees. Roof gardens or balconies should also be part of the tour – London vistas can be even more jaw-dropping at night as they are in daylight!
Ensure a warm welcome
Enveloping them in warmth as soon as you open the front door to viewers helps draw them in as prospective buyers – this could be their new front door, and doesn't everyone want to return from work on a cold, damp day to a lovely cosy home? Make sure the heating is on, and highlight features such as real-flame gas fires, Agas or log burners by keeping them lit.
Don't leave off the gardening
Layers of leaves, overgrown lawns or weeds can easily detract from a great outdoor space. A quick sweep, mow or rake at the weekend should ensure viewers see the best bits, and demonstrates your outdoor space is well maintained. Don't forget paths or drives either, and try to keep your front step(s) and/or porch free of leaves to create the right first impression.
Drive home your advantage
Safe, convenient and free parking is a huge bonus in London, so consider leaving your space or driveway empty for your viewer to use. If you have on or off-street parking right outside your property, make sure the agent passes the message on so your viewers know they can drive directly to you; if the agent is handling the viewings then ask if they are able to chauffeur them right up to your front door for that extra personal touch.
Strike the right mood
Small details can send subtle signals that influence the outcome of a house viewing. Light season-appropriate scented candles, or hang subtle decorations and lights. If you have an open-fire or log burner you could even throw some pinecones on the fire for that unique scent of Nordic forests in winter. You could even serve hot chocolate or mulled wine, to really get everyone in the mood.
Keep clear of clutter
Prospective buyers always want to visualise their own furnishings, so keep everything tidy and clutter to a minimum to maintain the "blank canvas" effect as best you can. A range of props such as textured scatter cushions, table lamps, rugs and throws will help everything seem warm and inviting, and can even be used to disguise tired carpets or soft furnishings without having to "dress" rooms or buy a whole new suite for a house you're trying to sell.
Don't be Scrooge
If it's time for the Christmas decorations to go up, keep things subtle and simple, but bear in mind not putting any up at all isn't very cheery and can make the space look a bit miserly!