1) Clear a Path
- Continually shovel a path through the snow, especially if it's still falling.
- Footprints on freshly fallen snow will turn to ice if the temperature is low enough, so scrape the walk.
- Sprinkle a layer of sand over the sidewalk and steps to ensure your buyers' stable footing.
- Remember to open a path from the street to the sidewalk so visitors aren't forced to crawl over snowdrifts.
- If it's raining, put a rubber mat by the front door or a container to hold wet umbrellas.
2) Let in the Light
- Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.
- Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights.
- Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
- Turn off TV.
3) Turn on the Heat
- Pump up that thermostat. It's better to heat the house a degree or two warmer than usual and then set the temperature at normal. This prevents the heat from kicking on when the buyer is present, because some HVAC systems are loud.
- You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on a cold day.
- Light the fireplace, but open the damper, place a grate in front of it and don't leave it unattended for very long. You don't want your house to catch fire!
- Make your living room appear romantic by placing two champagne glasses near a champagne bucket on the coffee table.
- Toss afghans or throws across the arms of your sofa.
- Turn your bathroom into a spa:
- Hang plush robes.
- Roll up wash cloths, tie with a ribbon and place in a basket on the counter.
- Set up a grouping of soaps, lotions and shampoo.
- Place vases filled with winter flowers around the house.
- Set a breakfast tray on the bed containing a coffee cup, saucer, napkin, rolled-up newspaper.
- Dress your dining room table for a dinner for two.
5) Turn on the Music
- Turn on soft music. I used to play Enya until one day I heard it piped in at a mortuary.
- Jazz or classical is soothing.
- Don't turn on a commercial radio station - fill the CD changer so your music will be continuous.
6) Ease Up on the Scents
- Many people are allergic to certain scents and deodorizers, so don't spray the air or plug-in air fresheners.
- Don't burn candles or spray perfume in the bedroom for the same reason.
- If you're going to bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove, put out munchies so buyers aren't disappointed. More than one sad buyer has said, "Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!"
7) Make it Visually Pleasing
- Display photographs showcasing your summer flower gardens and lush green lawns.
- Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.
- Make Your House Sparkle:
- Wash windows
- Clean out cobwebs.
- If necessary, re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
- Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
- Clean out the refrigerator.
- Vacuum daily. If your carpeting is plush, vacuum in one direction.
- Wash and wax floors.
- Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
- Bleach dingy grout.
- Empty trash and recycling bins.
8) Serve Winter Foods
- Don't serve muffins or any other kind of food that can be popped into the mouth because you want buyers to stay for a while and notice elements they might otherwise miss.
- Hot soups such as tortilla, potato or squash are delicious on a cold day.
- Chili or stew is a great alternative to soup, but leave a receptacle for disposal of the paper bowls and spoons.
- Hot apple cider or cups of cocoa make great beverage choices.
9) Provide Specific Information
- Attach printed cards to items and in rooms that provide further information the buyer might miss or might not know. You have so little time to make an impression.
- If you have an antique chandelier in your dining room, put a card on it that discloses its age and other important details.
- If you have removed the washer and dryer from the laundry room, attach a card to the wall describing the room.
- If your basement stairs are steep, attach a card to the railing that cautions buyers to watch their step.
- Take care when placing a card that says: "Not included in the sale." That will make a buyer want it, but you can play that later to your advantage.
10) Use Timers and Technology to Your Advantage
- Plug indoor lamps into a timer to automatically turn on at times buyers will be present.
- Consider using motion sensors that will light up in the evening when a buyer approaches your doorstep.
- Set your crock-pot on a timer to warm up soup at designated time.
- If you use an answering machine, turn it off or mute messages.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.