How to Host a Winter Open House

Selling your home in the winter can pose unique challenges. Poor driving conditions and low light can keep potential buyers away, and the lost curb appeal of your home could result in a lower offer than you would receive in the peak of the real estate season.

That said, there are several tricks you can apply use to ensure your home is both safe and appealing to open house attendees. We’ve outlined the top methods below.

Avoid Slipping and Sliding

In winter, homebuyers are struggling through inclement weather to view homes. They’ve been traipsing around in all manner of weather, usually in the dark, trying to find a home they love, and that’s a tough job. Your goal is to make their journey easier, and that starts as soon as they step onto your property.

If showing a detached house or townhouse, make sure to shovel your walkway and front step to keep it clear of any snow and ice. Not only should you shovel, but make sure to de-ice by spreading salt. You don’t want even a trace of poor traction to put your potential buyers off. Ensure the handrails on any steps you have are robust and provide a firm handhold for more unsteady buyers.

Maintaining your home’s walkway and front step is also good practice to insulate yourself from any potential liability should an open house attendee slip and fall in your walkway. In many cases, you are only liable if you fail to maintain the safety of your home adequately.

Prep Your Landing Zone

With snow comes ice and salt, and with salt comes those annoying white footprints that will tarnish your gleaming floors. To avoid messy floors, make sure you’ve got a landing zone set up for new arrivals. Set up a large mat in the entryway, and an extra coat rack for jackets and winter coats. If you are especially crafty, you could even make a sign inviting buyers to leave their winter gear in the entryway. These accouterments will encourage your guests to remove their heavy winter gear and make themselves at home while keeping the viewing area clean and clear of debris.

Maximize Limited Light

It is customary to hold open houses in the afternoon, but the winter light can already be waning after this time – even in the early afternoon. To ensure your home is bright and inviting, you’ll need to maximize your lighting more than ever before.

That doesn’t mean just throwing on the glaring overhead light. There are tasteful tactics you can employ to maximize your home’s natural light. Try throwing open your curtains and blinds, or even removing them entirely if they are constructed of dark fabric or are black out blinds.

If you have a fireplace, be sure to have a warm blaze crackling for ambiance. Fireplaces traditionally throw off a warm, yellow light, which will make your home feel cozy. If you do have fire burning, ensure it is adequately screened to protect the curious fingers of younger home viewers – a hot panel touched by a potential buyer’s toddler could be enough to turn them off your home for good.

Decorate for the Holidays, Within Reason

If you are holding an open house around the holidays, feel free to decorate, which will make your home seem warm and inviting. But, just like any personal effects in your home, you must keep decorations minimal. Avoid Christmas trees. They take up space and cause the house to seem smaller. You should also avoid overt religious symbols. Finally, make sure that any decorations you put up don’t detract from the selling features of your home.

Keep the Temperature Toasty

With so many viewers coming in and going, the door to your home will be opening and closing and let heat out of the home. It’s important to keep the house warm, so check the thermostat frequently to ensure the indoor temperature isn’t dropping too much. You want your home to be warm and inviting, not cold and drafty.

Selling a home in the winter is not as easy as during the warmer months, but you can do it, with a little ingenuity, skill, and the tips and tricks above.

About Jordann Brown

Jordann Brown is a freelance content marketer and owner of the popular personal finance blog My Alternate Life. She has been featured in major publications and by news outlets including CTV News, the Globe and Mail, Moneysense and the Huffington Post. You can follow Jordann on Twitter at @myalternateblog.

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