As regular readers of The Million Dollar Mama might be aware, we are currently preparing to move from Tennessee to North Carolina. Tennessee has been my home for the past 5 and-a-half years (and the only state I’ve ever lived in here in the U.S.) and I’ll be sad to leave, although I am looking forward to exploring a part of the country I’ve never been to before.
When we first moved to Tennessee, we rented a 2-bedroom apartment. After a few months, we decided to purchase our first house, which we’ve enjoyed making a home. When we first found out we were moving to North Carolina, we started weighing up the pros and cons of renting out the house or trying to sell it. We ultimately decided to list our house for sale.
Selling a house in winter can be difficult. Living in a town where there are TONS of houses on the market (so lots of competition) can make the process even more challenging. Despite these factors playing against us, we managed to receive a full price offer on our home, which we’re obviously ecstatic about.
There are numerous houses in our subdivision that have been sitting on the market for months, without even receiving an offer. I’ve been through most of these houses, and I’ve noticed some common themes (which I’ve outlined below.) I think these explain a lot of why they haven’t sold, and our house has.
Utilizing these winter home selling tips will help you embrace a notoriously difficult time to sell a house.
Tips For Selling Your House in Winter (And In A Down Market)
1. Choose an Experienced Realtor
This might sound like a given, but during winter (when it’s notoriously difficult to sell a house) and during a down market, it’s even more important that you choose an experienced realtor. Often, realtors with a lot of experience might charge a slightly higher commission. You will need to weigh up whether this slightly higher fee is worth it or not but think of it this way. Your mortgage is $1000 a month and you choose an inexperienced realtor who is unable to sell your house.
Your house sits on the market for 5 months – you’ve just spent $5000.
A more experienced realtor might charge a slightly higher commission, but if they can sell your house in a month or 2, they might actually end up saving you money (and they’ll definitely save you stress!)
2. Outprice Your Competition (Even Slightly)
The house directly opposite ours was listed for sale a few months before we listed ours. It was built in the same year as ours and has the exact same floor plan. The differences between the two houses are:
- Ours has been a lot better maintained
- Our backyard is about 5 times bigger
- We have no back neighbors (our house backs onto a lake – the house opposite ours backs onto another house)
You would think that we would’ve listed our house for more than the house opposite us, right?
We actually listed our house for slightly less. Because the houses are opposite each other and have the same floor plan, it was a given that anyone who came to view one house was going to want to view the other. Because our house was listed for slightly less money, it made buyers feel like they were getting a bargain.
The house opposite ours is still lingering on the market and ours is sold (and in case you’re wondering, we made a profit. I wasn’t interested in selling at a loss.)
3. Keep The Wall Colors Neutral
One of the biggest things I noticed when looking at our competition was the lack of neutrality.
I saw a lot of rooms painted bright blue, fire engine red, fuschia, etc.
It’s best to keep your decor (especially the paint colors) neutral when your house is on the market. Although paint is an easy thing to fix, buyers can find it very off-putting when they walk into a room with one green wall, one blue wall, one red wall, and one orange wall (I actually saw a room painted like this!)
Our color scheme was already neutral (we used Behr’s Muslin White in eggshell on the main living area walls, and a light gray on the bedroom and bathroom walls) but if yours isn’t then consider repainting to more mutually pleasing color.
4. Make Sure Your House is Spotless
When we were in the market to buy, we toured quite a few houses and I was shocked at the uncleanliness of many of them. Dust bunnies in the corners of every room, dirty kitchen countertops, a sink piled high with dishes, underwear on the bathroom floor…
Keeping your house spotless can be difficult, I know. (Especially when you have a 7-month-old baby and your husband is away for 2 months for work, like mine was!) But I think it’s imperative when you’re trying to sell your house.
Nobody likes to be greeted with dirty underwear when they look at your bathroom.
(Freshly vacuumed carpets always look nice, but it can be difficult to find the time to vacuum every day. This is my secret weapon for making the carpets look plush and clean on the days I don’t have time to vacuum – it works a charm on slight higher pile carpet!)
5. Embrace The Season
While winter can be notoriously difficult to sell a house, there are some pros to selling your house during the holidays.
Try to embrace the holiday season. A tastefully decorated Christmas tree with some pretty lights, a big welcoming wreath on the front door, beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, a scented candle (I love these wood wick ones that create the soothing sound of a crackling fire) and the heat turned up nice and high helps to create an inviting atmosphere where potential buyers can imagine themselves celebrating the holidays in years to come.
Just make sure you don’t overdo it with seasonal decor. Try to keep it tasteful and uncluttered. My rule is for every Christmas item I put out, I remove something else. For example, I usually have a faux flower arrangement on my mantel. At Christmas, I take that down and I put up a nutcracker. Likewise, I usually have a large floor lamp in the corner where I put our Christmas tree. During the Christmas season, the floor lamp goes into storage to make space for the Christmas tree.
Too much clutter makes a house look and feel much smaller.
Wrapping Things Up
Selling your house in winter can feel like a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. Make sure you choose an experienced realtor, price your house aggressively, keep it clean, neutral and uncluttered, and embrace the holiday season!