Many people believe it’s harder to sell your home in winter than summer. But there are a number of real advantages to selling during the cooler months, says Kathy Monahan, an agent with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. in Toronto.
For one thing, removed from the sometimes frenzied action of the spring market, sellers can take a little more time to consider offers, and with fewer homes on the market, there’s less competition. And don’t worry, says Kathy: the things that lead people to make new home purchases -- a new job, a growing family, up- or downsizing -- happen all year round, and there are still plenty of buyers out there. In fact, winter is a great time for playing up your home’s cosy, family-friendly charm.
Start with the exterior
As with any time of year, make sure that the house looks well maintained and cared for, with eavestroughs clean and minor repairs taken care of. While you can’t paint in winter, washing paintwork and siding with warm soapy water on a mild day can make a big difference. Make sure the windows are freshly washed as well; winter light has a way of highlighting grime.
Tend to foliage
Make sure that shrubs and tree-branches bent down with snow don’t obstruct walkways or entrances; brush the snow off or prune if necessary. (It won’t hurt them.) Ensure that the walkway is shovelled and ice-free before every showing; not only is this a courtesy and crucial to making the home look well maintained, but if a visitor slips and is hurt, you could be liable for damages.
Adorn the entryway
A wreath on the front door, Christmas lights and a garland hung on the doorframe or front porch present a welcoming entry. Plant urns with festive greenery, the fuller the better: along with cedar or pine boughs, tuck in sprigs of holy, dried berries, magnolia leaves, corkscrew hazel or red osier branches, with silver ball ornaments and perhaps gold wire ribbon woven through the arrangement.
Make a good first impression
Once a prospective buyer comes inside, remember that you may have only 10 to 15 minutes to make a lasting impression. (A small but crucial point for unoccupied homes: make sure the heat is turned on several hours before the showing. All the window-dressing and staging in the world won’t entice buyers to linger inside a home that’s freezing.)
Romance visitors’ sense of smell by lighting fragrant candles or placing bowls of potpourri in main rooms. A time-honoured but still effective trick, especially on a cold winter’s day, is to have a pot of cider simmering on the stove, or cookies or fresh bread baking.
Protect the floors
To protect your floors, put down rubber mats by the door for snowy boots; buy a few pairs of comfy one-size-fits-all slippers from a department or discount store for visitors to wear while they view your home.
Light a fire
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, light a fire and let it glow during the showing. Put big, colourful poinsettias in each main room, including the kitchen; consider more modest winter flower arrangements or amaryllis blooms in other rooms, such as the bath and master bedroom. Decorate banisters and mantels with pine garlands (natural ones impart a delicious, nostalgic fragrance); a decorated and lit Christmas tree or menorah enhances an image of home and family.
After the holidays, seasonal decorations can be taken down, but urn arrangements and even the front door wreath can stay up for the rest of the winter, if it isn’t too Christmasy in design. Make sure you continue to maintain walkways clear of ice and snow, and think warm thoughts!
The children on your holiday shopping list are sure to love these unique and interactive gift ideas.
Shopping for kids can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially during the holidays. To keep the little ones on your holiday shopping list happy, we've rounded up some of our favourite fun and interactive gift ideas. Perfect for children of all ages, these items are sure to bring joy and excitement over the holidays.
Colouring books will always be a popular gift. This year, gift your little Picasso with a unique spin on the classic colouring book - a puzzle they can colour themselves! Colour Your Own Puzzle, Winners, $12.99.
A toothbrush that gets kids excited about brushing is a win-win for parents and children. Featuring an interactive app you can sync to your smart device and customizable stickers - what's not to love! Philips Sonicare for Kids, Walmart, $59.99.
Perfect for the creative kid on your shopping list. This DIY marble maze allows players to design their own experience, challenge opponents and even features a fun virtual reality viewer. Seedling Marble Maze, Indigo, $74.95.
When it's just too cold to play outside, this fun caravan-style tent is the perfect for letting creativity and imagination flourish indoors. HEMMAHOS Children's tent, IKEA, $39.99.
How adorable are these wooden kitchen appliances? With realistic rotating pieces and turning clicks, your kids will enjoy hours of fun. Wooden Appliances, Pottery Bark Kids, prices vary.
This cookie cutter set is a great way to combine a young Jedi masters love for baking holiday treats and their obsession with all things Star Wars. Star Wars™ 8-Piece Cookie Cutter Set, Williams-Sonoma, $29.95.
Kids will love this fun, interactive, and imaginative way to learn math, language and shapes. Designed for use with your tablet, each subject has its own games and interactive toys. Tiggly Learner Kit, Best Buy, $99.99.
Add a new addition to family game night with a classic like Scrabble. Fun for the whole family, this vintage edition comes in a stylish, linen-wrapped book. Scrabble Vintage Bookshelf Edition, Indigo, $49.95.
Build-A-Bear Workshop's newest reindeer collection means from start to finish your children can put their own unique spin on creating the seasonal stuffed toy of their dreams. Glisten, Twinkle and Tinsel Reindeer, Build-A-Bear Workshop, prices vary.
A dreamy, hand-painted watercolour print featuring the words "inhale, exhale".
Impress the wellness devotee in your life with these covetable products.
There’s no denying that the holiday season is a time of indulgence (our chocolate Advents have been known to run dry well before December 24th), but that’s not to say we should black list all things health-related until the new year. In honour of finding balance, we’ve rounded up this year’s most lust-worthy wellness products that make perfect gifts – from a display-worthy yoga mat to a healthy snack subscription service.
Sip your way to wellness with this combo pack of organic loose-leaf teas. The blends are carefully crafted in Toronto to help restore the mind and body, focusing on everything from detoxification to sleep and stress. Tea sampler set, The Honest Leaf, $30.
It’s no secret that winter takes a toll on our skin. Treat a loved one to this all-natural body care set designed to cleanse, exfoliate and nourish skin from head to toe. Kahina Giving Beauty Glow Box, The Detox Market, $75.
The sought-after S’well is the ideal gift for that friend who still carries a plastic water bottle. The reusable stainless steel product is crafted from non-toxic materials and even keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. S’well stainless steel Marble Water Bottle in Opal, Hudson’s Bay, $45.
Angela Liddon of the fabulous vegan recipe blog Oh She Glows recently released her second cookbook. In it you’ll find more than 100 simple and satisfying plant-based recipes, from loaded sweet potatoes to the ultimate flourless brownies. Oh She Glows Every Day Cookbook by Angela Liddon, Indigo, $32.
Few things are better than receiving an assortment of goodies out of the blue. This healthy service allows you to send a friend a gift box packed with natural products (think organic snack bars and lip balm), with offerings switched up each month. Classic Gift Box, Little Life Box, $33.
Practiced yogi or not, most health enthusiasts will appreciate this pretty turquoise watercolour print, which has the words “inhale, exhale” delicately hand-painted onto it. Handmade Inhale Exhale Print, 8” x 10”, The Happy Yogi on Etsy, $13 US.
An aromatherapy diffuser is the ultimate fail-safe gift idea for the wellness minded (it’s that thing everyone wants but won’t buy for themselves). This heat-free model purifies the air while filling a home with beneficial essential oils. Aromaom Ultrasonic Diffuser, Saje Wellness, $90.
Crafted from little more than virgin coconut oil, rose absolute and raw sugar, this all-natural body exfoliant moisturizes and nourishes skin the right way. Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Body Polish, Sephora, $38.
Since it wouldn’t be the holidays without chocolate, gift your friends treats they’ll feel good about eating. These Canadian-made vegan dark chocolate salted caramel bars are crafted from six organic ingredients and taste like heaven. Vegan Artisan Bars, Fitzys Chocolate, $19 per pack of 6.
Forget standard fitness gear – treat the runner in your life to this fashion-forward floral backpack designed by Stella McCartney for Adidas, which features a hidden water pocket, reflective finishes and a strap for added support. Adidas by Stella McCartney Floral Print Backpack, Adidas, $160.
Encourage that friend who buys organic cold-pressed juice a little too often to make his or her own with this fancy device. The sleek and smart appliance will fit on any counter (we’re talking to you, condo dwellers!) and extracts juice in five seconds flat. Juice Fountain Compact Juicer, Breville, $170.
Wrap the prettiest presents under the tree with these 10 essentials
Instead of traditional red, white and green, add a pop of pink to your holiday packages this year! This pretty paper features a repeat candy cane pattern that’s sweet and whimsical. Illustrated by Canadian artist Lindsay Stephenson, this paper is sure to charm this Christmas. There are three sheets per roll and rolls are shrink wrapped to protect the paper. Candy Cane Wrapping Paper, The Penny Paper Co., $12.
This red and white wrapping twine will instantly add a festive look to all your gifts. It’s also perfect for securing cellophane if you’re preparing plates of baked goods to give. Red and White Twisted Rope Ribbon, Minor Thread on Etsy, starting at $3.25.
Dress up your gifts with pretty ornaments affixed atop with twine or ribbon. These 100% wool snowflake ornaments will not only make every present look special, but they’re also an extra little gift for someone to hang on their tree and think of you for Christmases to come. Felt Snowflake Ornaments, West Elm, $6 for set of 4.
Printed on luxe paper and featuring an adorable winter-inspired illustration, this gift tag will make a wonderful first impression! Choose from four different paper types to personalize your gift tags just as you like them. Winter Snow Friends Gift Tags, Minted, starting at $30.
Recreating a vintage-looking holiday scene, this gift wrap from Rifle Paper Co is perfect for dressing up your presents. If you can’t get enough of this pattern, greeting and ornament cards are also available. Holiday Snow Scene Gift Wrap, Rifle Paper Co., $8.50.
Washi tape is perfect for decorating everything from gifts and cards to envelopes before you pop them into the mail. Add your own personal touch to all of your holiday gifts and cards with this variety pack of Washi tape, which features six rolls in different patterns. Christmas Washi Tape, Hobby Hoppers on Etsy, $11.
This two-pack gift wrap set comes with a festive plaid pattern and a fun, printed pattern expressing the cheerful sentiments of the season. Printed on premium paper with a satin finish, these co-ordinating papers will add a decidedly chic look to all your gifts this Christmas. Holiday Wrapping Paper Gift Set, Ashley Brooke Designs, $30.
This cheeky Christmas card paints an all too familiar scene for many of us (guilty as charged!). Make friends and family chuckle when you send out these less traditional but highly entertaining holiday cards this season. Everyone Was on Their Phone Card, Indigo, $15.95.
We have two words for these bunny Christmas gift tags: Simply adorable. This pack of 10 gift tags is professionally printed on white card stock and comes with white and gold metallic twine for an added touch of chic. Bunny Christmas Gift Tags, Paula and Waffle on Etsy, $8.
You probably won’t get through the holiday season without needing a gift bag or two so stock up on bags of all sizes to fit those awkwardly shaped gifts or ones you just don’t have time to wrap. This premium bag has sturdy handles so it can bear the weight of a heavy(ish) gift, yet looks stylish all the same. Oh What Fun Plaid Bag, Indigo, $6.