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!
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.
12 stylish gift wrapping ideas you can do yourself
Create your very own stylish faux bois-inspired holiday gift wrap. For the full look and all the details click here.
A cheery colour scheme uses sky blue to temper the ubiquitous holiday red. The shades play off each other to create a happy holiday palette, while the traditional use of bows and ribbons is perfectly at home in the mix. For the full look and all the details click here.
True to her happy-go-lucky style, design assistant Morgan Lindsay created a colourful array of wrapped presents that are guaranteed to put a smile on any recipients’ face. For the full look and all the details click here.
The natural look has never appeared as good as on these subtle, sophisticated gifts. Whether it’s brown-paper packages tied up with string or gift wrap crafted from a page or two of a vintage book, understated elegance is the name of the game. For the full look and all the details click here.
Drawing inspiration from our favourite of-the-moment wallpapers, we designed our very own gift wrap, and you can too! For the full look and all the details click here.
Green never gets old during the holidays, especially when it comes in all kinds of lovely variations of shade and texture. For the full look and all the details click here.
A little old-fashioned, a little modern and a lot of style. Lace-like details give style and food editor Tara Ballantyne’s packages a handmade feel, while hits of neon keep the look contemporary and fun – perfect for a season that both embraces tradition and celebrates new endeavours. For the full look and all the details click here.
Create your own pretty snowflake wrapping paper inspired by one of our favourite of-the-moment wallpaper designs. For the full look and all the details click here.
Indulge in a spate of whimsy this season by choosing a colour palette that’s out of the holiday ordinary. This combination of white and bubble-gum pink brings new life to the tried-and-true basics we’re – maybe – too used to seeing. For the full look and all the details click here.
The combination of dusty rose and dove grey brings a sense of youthfulness to these Christmas presents that’s sweet but not saccharine. Senior style editor Ann Marie Favot skilfully combined patterned papers, string and stickers to create a fun, fresh take on holiday gift wrapping. For the full look and all the details click here.
Always one to bring on the glamour, Jessica Waks gave her gifts a decorator’s touch. Her signature graphic palette of black and white with hits of gold is sophisticated and a perfect match for the dazzle of the holidays. For the full look and all the details click here.
We've put together our list of gift ideas to make holiday shopping a breeze.
It's time to start putting together your holiday gift list. Not sure where to start? We've rounded up some great gifts we love that will help make shopping during the holidays quick and easy. Take a look at our long list of chic and stylish items for everyone on your list.
Rosanna Jazz Age porcelain lidded Pardon My French BOX, 3" x 2", Inter-Continental Mercantile, $28.
Bower turned brass and maple Tipsy Writer pen holders (pens included), Brika, $39 each.
Assorted Symbol # marquee sign in White, 6" x 8", Canadian Tire, $20.
Medium stoneware Indigo Illustration trinket dish, Anthropologie, $14 US.
Ommo plastic tiered tray in Suede, Drake General Store, $62.
Glass Milk Bottle Sipper bottles, Anthropologie, $12 US each.
Smudge Design Prickly Paired personalized notecard with straight edge in Leaf, Minted, $71 per pack of 25 (includes kraft envelopes).
Unleashed Life reclaimed steel Easton dog bowl, O.co, from $43.
Bang & Olufsen portable Bluetooth Beoplay A1 speaker in Natural, Amazon.ca, $299.
Wild & Wolf 746 telephone in Copper, Hudson's Bay, $120.
Handmade glass Mixology cocktail glasses with 20-karat gold lettering. Vital Industries on Etsy, $60 US per set of 4.
Felted Corriedale wool faux succulent in Mint Green with terracotta pot in Copper, Contrabotanic on Etsy, $40.
Regenerated cotton blend Rockin’ Moroccan throw, Mood Design Studio on Etsy, $185 US.
Lacquered wood Turner picture frame with brass appliqués, 4" x 4", Jonathan Adler, $128 US.
Crystal Mini perfume bottles, 3", HomeSense, $8 each.
Personalized linen Love toss cushions with feather and down insert in Natural & Navy, 12" x 16", Yun & Yoonie on Etsy, $42 US.
Brass-plated stainless steel Pineapple measuring cups, Anthropologie, $48 US per 4-piece set.
Fresh Zodiac Oval Cancer bar soaps, Sephora, $18 each.
Lucky Charm Hamsa objet, 4" x 3", Indigo, $20.
Plastic Unicorn pencil holder, Kikkerland, $25.
Marble and acacia wood dip bowl (with 2 polished brass spoons), 5", Indigo, $35.
Porcelain Stay Fancy dessert plate, HomeSense, $5.
Greg Voisin ceramic Drake’s Hotline Bling mug in Pink, One of a Kind Online Shop, $25.