Real estate is a year-round proposition, so exterior staging and curb appeal are always important. When getting your home ready to sell, it’s a good idea to take some time to drive around the block, and then pull up in front as if you were seeing your house for the first time. This will allow you to pick out things that might turn off potential buyers and spruce up areas that need improvement.
Here are ten ways to make your winter listing look warmer, cozier, and more beautiful when buyers and their real estate agents come to call.
1. Create a cohesive accessory style.
Is your front elevation a conglomeration of styles from different eras: a formal brass door knocker, a craftsman-style rubbed bronze porch light, and an old, faded mailbox from who-knows-when?
Come up with a look you love, and purchase exterior accessories, such as a new mailbox, door hardware, lighting, and street numbers, in the same style and finish. Consider the architecture of your home when making your choice to create a pulled-together, unified look that complements the entire exterior. For winter, consider a warm bronze or copper finish to infuse an additional glow.
2. Keep things clean.
One of the most important things you can do to ensure your home looks polished over the winter months is to spend time in the fall on exterior maintenance. Clean out the gutters, power wash the hardscape, replace broken pavers, and repaint peeling trim work.
Don’t let fallen leaves or yard debris hang around all winter. Make sure every last twig has been raked up and hauled away. Walk around your property and look for gardening tools, sporting equipment, or outdoor toys that have been left around, and store them away as well. Put up garden hoses and clear out any other debris so that your home’s exterior looks neat and tidy.
3. Clear driveways and walkways.
Keep surfaces clear of snow, ice, or wet leaves, both for safety and to create an inviting environment for visitors to your home. If you’re unable to keep up with clearing your hardscape on your own, employ a service or talk to your lawn care professional to see if they offer snow removal. You can also look into heated mats to help keep surfaces clear in high-traffic outdoor areas.
4. Redecorate your front porch.
Cozy up the decor on your front porch with brightly colored, textured cushion covers, ottomans, throws, and pillows. Consider textiles like flannel, fleece, and knit to bring warmth to outdoor spaces. Colors to consider include white, silver, red, and navy while designs include tartan, Buffalo check, or Norwegian-inspired knitwear patterns.
5. Fill your planters with winter-friendly options.
If you’ve got planters standing empty, this is the time to fill them with evergreen branches, mini-trees, or other hearty plants and greenery. Winter-friendly potted plants options, such as boxwood, cypress, yew, and blue spruce, can breathe life into your outdoor setting and will look lovely all season long.
6. Light it up.
Add light to your outdoor spaces to brighten them up during the long winter evenings. Add outdoor lanterns and candles to your decor, and turn on porch lights earlier in the evening. Add additional solar-powered lights to your walkway and DIY luminaries along the path, stairs, and porch rail. Consider cafe lights strung beneath the eaves or along the porch roof to add even more glow.
7. Make over your front door.
This is an ideal time to give your front door a facelift with a bright, new paint color. Don’t limit yourself to red, black, or white. Consider a more sophisticated hue like Tiffany blue, pumpkin orange, kelly green, or taxicab yellow. Don’t forget a fresh welcome mat to tie everything together and a boot scraper if the weather is particularly rough. Combine this project with the replacement of your exterior accessories for maximum impact.
8. Clean out the garage.
Rather than using the garage for extra storage, why not use it for storing your cars? Choose a day in the fall to clean out, throw out, and give away unwanted items so that you can make room to park inside your garage. Do you need space for outdoor equipment and sporting goods? It may be time to pre-pack them and put them into storage until it’s time to move.
9. Employ tasteful holiday decorations.
Forgo the grass-killing inflatables in favor of a more restrained style of holiday decorating. Remember, you’re showing off your home, not your decorations, so taking a more subtle approach is the right call when you’re selling.
Start with the porch makeover you’ve already completed, and add rich velvet ribbons in holiday hues. Add white twinkle lights to your boxwood planters and garland at the doorway and railings. Leave off elaborate light displays or animated figures in favor of elegant simplicity.
10. Consider your planting zone.
Depending on where you are in the country, you may still be able to plant a new tree or annual plant beds throughout the colder months. Add color to your outdoor areas with camellias, cyclamen, holly, and juniper. Consider hearty ground cover or native grasses in flower beds and hibernating vegetable garden plots.
Your trusted real estate professional is the one to ask for tips on optimizing your property for today’s buyer. Agents know what sells in your area and they have an eye for little improvements that pay big dividends at the negotiating table. Ask your agent for a walk-through and a to-do list to help you update your outdoor space. You, and your future buyers, will be glad you did.