Selling Your Kitchener-Waterloo Home over the Winter

Home Stager with Beyond the Stage Homes

Selling your home is always stressful and inconvenient however selling during the winter presents its own unique set of challenges. Not only is the market typically slower during colder, winter months but the holidays can make it difficult to juggle the need to decorate with the importance to properly showcase your home. As there are less buyers looking for a home its vital to make sure your property shows beautifully so buyers will willingly – and eagerly – face winter’s cold wrath to preview your home.

Keep your driveway and walkways shoveled and accessible. The last thing a seller wants is for a potential buyer to decide not to preview the interior because the exterior is treacherous or difficult to get access to due to snow and ice. Make the exterior too much of a challenge and your buyers will simply move onto the next property on their list. By keeping all access points clear, you will welcome visitors inside and showcase the fact that your home is well maintained and taken care of.

Be wary of heavy or potent smells. Winter makes it almost impossible to open windows so a home’s smells are important to be aware of. While your house is on the market, do your best to refrain from using incense, heavy perfumes or pot pourri and doing a lot of cooking with heavy spices. These things not only linger in the air for days, they also permeate the soft decor in your home – your carpets, draperies, pillows and these smells can stay trapped in these items for long time. This means even if you air out the house, when you close it back up, your soft decor items will still release the same heavy smells back into the home. Keep on top of pet smells and ensure that their litter or bedding is changed daily – sometimes twice daily. To keep the air light and fresh, keep the house clean, keep the air purifier working and use natural citrus scents to add a warm welcome to the air.

Make sure every room is well-lit. This sounds logical however there are a staggering number of people who do not have adequate lighting in their home. In order for buyers to buy a home they need to not only be able to see each room but they also need to be romanced – especially in the key selling areas such as the living room, family room, bedroom and kitchen. This means having levels of lighting, not just a harsh overhead light, so that you set the mood and ambiance for your visitors. In the winter when sunny days are at a premium and it gets dark very quickly, these levels of lighting are vital to proper showcasing. From table lamps to modern floor lamps and kitchen fixtures – these items play an important part in a home’s overall presentation. Another way to ensure rooms are well-lit is to keep blinds and window treatments open as natural light is one of the best ways to make sure a space appears bright and welcoming.

Keep holiday decorating minimal and tasteful. As we discussed during our postStaging to Sell over the Holidays, while decorating for festivities is important, it’s also vital to keep the decorating tasteful and in balance with the space. It’s very easy to overwhelm a room with too many decorations, too many ornaments and too much cheer. Your buyers will appreciate simple decorating touches so don’t feel you can’t celebrate. Once the holidays are over however, make sure decorations get taken down quickly and if any photos online showcase holiday decor, have them refreshed so your listing doesn’t seem stale in January.

Create simple winter curb appeal. Regardless of the time of year, your home needs to have welcoming appeal. Shoveling is a first step but one of our top suggestions is to add some urns with seasonal greenery, hazel twigs, berries and even soft white lights flanking your front door which will add pops of color against the snow as well as warmth and welcome to your porch. Ensuring bushes and small trees are trimmed back, house numbers are visible from the curb, all lights work are all elements of strong curb appeal.

Clean out closets and storage areas to make room for winter clothing. From heavy winter coats and snowpants to heavy boots and skis – winter comes with a lot of extra things to store. Pare down the contents of hall or mudroom closets, taking the opportunity to pack away lighter clothing to make room for all these winter must haves. As a general rule, all winter clothing and boots should be stored neatly in these closets so buyers don’t think the house has storage issues. Skis, snowshoes etc should have a home in a closet or in the garage however it may mean packing away other items to make room for these winter essentials.

Be aware of your home’s temperature. You don’t want your house to be overly warm so your buyers are too hot to enjoy previewing the home. At the same time, we have been in a lot of homes which are freezing – either because they are vacant or because that is how the current home owners like the temperature. Keep the temperature comfortable so your buyers feel welcome and then want to stay.

Warmth and welcome are key aspects to luring buyers out to see your home during colder months. By following these tips and consulting with a professional stager to ensure all areas of your home are properly showcased, sellers will reap the benefits of impressing the buyers who are shopping for properties even when the market typically slows. Regardless of the time of year, a home which has been properly prepared and staged will stand out against its competition, making it the house to see!

Posted by

Heather Cook  is Co-Owner and Principal Staging Designer of the award winning Rooms in Bloom Home Staging & Design Inc. based out of Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.


Contact us today so we can help you create the WOW Factor in your home.


Comments (14)

Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker

these are all good points. I never thought about the difficulty of airing the house out.

Dec 03, 2011 12:51 PM
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

First Heather, congratulations on your RESA honor again!  Second, what a beautifully presented and well stated blog post.  Suggested! 

Dec 03, 2011 12:57 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Brian - You aren't alone - not many people realize just how difficult it is to air a house out during the winter and keeping it smelling great. Because the windows are closed all the time, its very important to be aware of smells as they can quickly become overwhelming and long lasting.

Ginger - Thank you!! Alana and I are both thrilled and humbled at being selected as finalists - its wonderful. Glad you loved the post and thanks so much for suggesting!!

Dec 03, 2011 01:10 PM
Janet Jones
Just Your Style Interiors, LLC - Kihei, HI
Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Hi Heather--great post.  These are great reminders for sellers (in those cold climates) to seriously consider while their homes are on the market.  It does take extra effort to look at homes when it's cold and snowy and winter light creates a whole difference atmosphere inside of a home. 

Dec 03, 2011 05:44 PM
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

Another great post, Heather. For me, the temperature has to be on the warm side. I'm not suggesting it be hot, by any means. However, if it's freezing cold, and if I were a potential buyer, I'd want nothing more than to run through the house and get out as soon as possible. That's NOT what would help sell a home.


P.S. Congrats on being a finalist in RESA for Staging Company of the Year, Canada.

Dec 03, 2011 10:56 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Janet - Winter isn't the optimal time to sell a house for so many reasons so sellers need to be more aware of the obstacles buyers face when previewing homes and do their best to remove these obstacles with their own home. I did a consult a few days ago and the seller said that normally the pet smell wasn't so bad but because they couldn't open windows anymore, now it was overwhelming. That got me thinking about everything else .. hence the post :)

Kathy - I agree, for me as well the temperature needs to be warm enough that it makes me feel at home in the house. I was in a vacant house on Friday and the heat had been turned off - it made me speed through that property because I literally didn't feel welcome. Turning on the heat will be one of my recommendations when I submit my quote this week otherwise it won't matter if its staged or not - people won't stick around long enough to care. 

Dec 04, 2011 02:49 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Heather- I'm beginning to feel like we're missing out on something here in South Florida!  LOL... I am glad that we don't have to worry about snow but it's so beautiful when it's fresh!

Dec 04, 2011 05:34 AM
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

Heather.......GREAT post but I'm not clear on #1.  Is snow that kinda white stuff that sometimes falls from the sky....well in some places other than San Francisco?  Sorry.....was just out to lunch today and had to share....this is what December brings in the Bay Area:

Lunch in December - California Style

Dec 04, 2011 12:59 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Kathy - You aren't missing out hon! Winter snow is lovely - until just after the holidays and then I'm ready for it to be over! We typically get most of our snow between January and the end of March and sometimes the snowbanks are higher than my head. Makes staging especially challenging and treacherous.

Kathy - Okay, you've made me jealous lady! My sister who moved to Texas is shooting me equally jealous worthy pics and updates on their gorgeous weather. We could trade :) Why don't you come up and we can trek through some snow together? LOL! Or enjoy a glass of wine by a roaring fire while the snow falls merrily outside ... 

Dec 04, 2011 01:47 PM
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

Heather.....Hey I've got my wine out tonight (no fire....makes the house tooooo!  Glad you enjoyed!  We had such a great day today it just struck me when I saw your post.  I really would have zero idea how to work, walk or do anything in snow...having spent my first 28 years in Los Angeles, and the last 33 years in San Franciso (ok....go ahead do the math....61).  Snow looks pretty but....also looks like WORK!!!

Have a GREAT week!!!!

Dec 04, 2011 02:52 PM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Hi Heather ~  Your post has excellent tips for sellers this time of year.  How I hate to see online photos including Christmas trees when it's March or April!!   Brrrr I remember those cold snowy winters in Montreal!!!  I have no idea how you manage to work in that frigid climate, but you should have a special bonus for doing it!! 

(And tell my pal Kathy above to cool it on bragging about that warm weather in CA!!)

Dec 04, 2011 05:35 PM
Heather Cook
Beyond the Stage Homes - Kitchener, ON
Delivering beautifully staged spaces

Kathy - I am so glad you had a great day and even gladder that you shared it with me :) As for adding things all I am getting from those numbers is white noise .. blah blah blah .. you are great and look gorgeous! And you're right, snow looks pretty but try hauling bins of decor while navigating icy pathways and driveways - not fun!

Maureen - I hear you hon! We see so many in February through April with xmas trees and stockings in the livng rooms shots and the poor house is literally crying out for fresh pictures. Very sad! I am going to mention the bonus thing to our wintertime clients and see what they think lol! Its the driving through snow, especially at night, that makes me nervous. Or doing inventory counts at our storage units which aren't heated - fun times!! As to Kathy, we may have to organize a wee trip out to see her just so we can stop her bragging. Of course we may need to enjoy the warm weather too. Which then may necessitate us bragging. LOL! It's a vicious circle :)

Dec 05, 2011 07:01 AM
Kristine Ginsberg
Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC - Short Hills, NJ
NJ Home Stager

All great advice Heather, especially keeping holiday decorating to a minimal - no plastic snowmans or giant snow globes out on the front lawn. I do love your idea of using fresh greens and berries with white lights - very tasteful!

Dec 12, 2011 05:44 AM