Welcome to No. 2 in our series on Christmas lights and leaf guards. (Well, if it’s the second article in a week, I guess that qualifies it as a series!)
Last week I blogged about that ever-popular question: can I hang Christmas lights if I have a gutter protection. The weekend after Thanksgiving is when a lot of people put up their lights. As I walked around the neighborhood last night looking at the festive displays, I talked to one homeowner who was completing a very creative arrangement. The house beside his, unlike most of those on the block, was not decorated and I joked about his neighbor being a Scrooge. “Oh, their house is up for sale,” the man explained, “and they were busy sprucing up the interior to make it look nice. They really want a quick sale, but it’s so hard to sell a house over the holidays.”
Having family in the real estate business, I know that’s true. People try to move when it has least impact on their children, so late in the school year and summer are peak times. With people focusing on the holidays, the housing market slows down from November through January. And that’s in a good year, which in most parts of the country this isn’t. But if you have to sell your house in the depths of winter, there are some positives. Smart buyers may decide that a biting cold winter is actually a good time to go out looking for their dream house, when there is less competition. Here are a few tips:
Put the Christmas lights up! Spend a few more dollars and buy some extra lights, look online for clever display ideas. A beautifully decorated house, hopefully with a powdering of snow on the roof – and your home is already making a great first impression. But don’t let the snow pile up. In Monday’s blog post we talked about how even a premier gutter guard like MasterShield isn’t designed to prevent icicles forming around your gutters. A snow rake may well solve the problem.
Get the shovels out. If it does snow, make sure that your sidewalks, paths and entranceway are swept clear and gritted. As they walk in the door, your open-house visitors will already have the impression that your house is easy to maintain in bad weather.
Do decorate inside the house. Don’t overdo it–you want your buyers to be able to imagine themselves putting up their own treasured decorations in your living room. Light a fire–a welcoming fire on the hearth is not a buying point that a summertime stager can use, so go ahead! And it sounds hokey, but bake cookies and have some spicy cider on the stove–those festive, familiar scents are far more attractive than the most expensive air fresheners. Buyers will take away the memory of your home as a welcoming and warm place.
Make sure the house is actually warm! Smart wintertime buyers will be evaluating your house for how well the heating system works and if there are areas in the house that seem cold or damp. These are issues that might not even occur to summertime buyers, but are hard to conceal when the temperatures are dropping. Sparkling snow on tree branches may turn your yard into a winter wonderland, but don’t let old Jack Frost into the house.
A needling problem? Speaking of the trees in your yard, if they are pine trees, you’re lucky–your house will look fit for a Christmas card. But we’ve mentioned on this blog that pine needles can cling to a roof and are more likely than other fall debris to end up in your gutters. And it only takes a few pine needles building up over a gutter downspout to cause a clog. Installing micro mesh leaf guards like MasterShield with its patented HydroVortex technology could be a great selling point. Buyers will be impressed not only with your standards of home maintenance but also with how MasterShield prevents gutter clogs and removes the need for gutter cleaning–so the only time the new owners will ever have to get up on a ladder will be to hang those Christmas lights!
One final thing. Has anyone seen the 2011 Home Depot Holiday commercial where the guy goes up a ladder stuck in the snow to put up his Christmas lights? NOT what we want to see you doing. Yes, it makes for a nice looking commercial, but that has to be the unsafest ladder climb we’ve ever seen on TV. Don’t think that guy is doing it right and copy climbing a ladder (with all the lights on, to boot) in the snow.
Do you have any other tips to share about selling houses, in good weather or bad? We’d love to hear them – post a comment on the blog. Good luck selling the house, and happy holidays!