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13 tips for selling your home in winter

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5. Play music softly in the background. To create a little atmosphere, tune the radio to the local classical station. Turn it down so that you just hear it quietly in the background. "It's soothing," says Libby, who finds that soft classical music tends to have the most appeal to buyers. "I think people tend to stay around a little longer and look a little longer."

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6. Make it comfortable and cozy. Set the scene and help the buyers see themselves living happily in this house. Consider things such as putting a warm throw on the sofa or folding back the thick comforter on the bed. Tap into "the simple things this time of year that make you feel like you're home," says Phipps.

7. Emphasize winter positives. Is your home on a bus route or some other vital service that means it's plowed or de-iced regularly in bad weather? Be sure to mention that to the buyers.

8. Set up timers. You want your home to look warm and welcoming whenever prospective buyers drive past. But you're not home all the time, so put indoor and outdoor lights on timers, says Phipps.

Look at the outside lighting around the door. Is there enough illumination to make it inviting? If not, either get the fixtures changed or have new ones added.

9. Make it festive. Even if you're not actually going to be present, greet your buyers as if they were going to be guests at a party, says Phipps.

Set up the dinner table with the good china and silver. Have a plate of cookies for your guests, some warm cider or even chilled bottles of water.

"First impressions are so powerful," says Phipps. "If it looks like you're expecting me and greeting me as company, that's a powerful impact."

10. Give the home a nice aroma. The No. 1 favorite? "Chocolate chip cookies," says Libby. "Just about everybody likes that smell."

Other popular scents: cinnamon rolls, freshly baked bread, apple pie, apple cider or anything with vanilla, cinnamon or yeast.

"But don't overdo it, either," says Ledebuhr. Scented candles in every room or those plug-in air fresheners can leave buyers wondering what you're trying to mask.

Watch the bad smells, too. Pet smells, smoke and musty odors can cling to curtains and carpets. Ask your real estate agent or a friend to give it a sniff test. Then clean the house, air it out and replace drapes, carpets or rugs before you show it.

11. Protect your investment. Some sellers (or their agents) will ask buyers to either remove shoes or slip on paper "booties" over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers like that, says Phipps. It indicates a "pride of ownership and meticulousness that resonates with buyers," he says. 

12. Use the season to your advantage. While the holidays are over (and the Christmas and Hanukkah stuff should come down), you can still use winter wreaths and dried arrangements around the door to give interest. "Anything seasonally appropriate is fun," says Phipps.

In the winter, with the leaves off the trees, you might also have a nice view that isn't as apparent in the spring and summer months. It's a great time to sell waterfront properties, says Phipps. "You can see the views better this time of year."

13. Consider the area. In some parts of the country, such as ski areas or warmer regions where the snow birds flock, winter weather can actually be a selling point. "We're right in the middle of our selling season," says Libby. "It's not always spring and summer."

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Jan. 11, 2007
 
 
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