Baby It’s Cold Outside!
How to ensure your potential buyers are comfortable seeing your home.
Winter makes doing most anything more difficult. The simple act of going to see a home on the market is harder when there is snow, rain, freezing temperatures, and wind.
During the summer you might just grab your keys and go, arrive at the house, walk right in the front door, maybe kick off your flip-flops and start the tour. That same viewing experience during winter may involve you getting bundled up in your winter’s best coat, scarf, hat, gloves and boots. It could involve a harrowing drive through snow and a walk through un-shoveled sidewalks. Once you reach the front door you might have to deal with frozen RMLS boxes, nowhere to wipe your feet, and no place to take off your boots.
When showing a house during the winter months, we must take extra steps to insure our potential buyers have a lovely experience, thus leading them to buy the house they felt comfortable in rather the one than the one they struggled to even get a look at. Here is a list of things to take into consideration when showing a house in winter.
Set the thermostat temperature to 68 degrees. Human beings have a four degree comfort zone of 68-72 degrees. Your potential buyer will be entering your house from a much colder outdoor temperature and will have on heavy coats, hats, boots, etc. While we want them to be comfortable, we do not want them to be boiling in comparison to the outside. Remember, they are only going to be there for 7-9 minutes. We want a small, comfortable transition to 68 degrees, not a overheating of 72 degrees.
Provide a place to sit down at the entrance. If the space allows for a small bench or chair near the front door, place one there. Many of your buyers will automatically remove their boots if they are wet, whether asked to or not. Giving your buyer a place to sit down and remove them will make their viewing experience easier.
Provide a place to wipe feet. We tend to use large 4’x5’ black industrial walk-off mats both inside and outside the front door. This solves two problems, both helping to keep the home’s floors clean as well as allowing your potential buyer to be comfortable, keeping their shoes on if they so choose.
Shovel your driveway and sidewalks. Folks that are looking for houses in the dead of winter are serious. They are oftentimes traveling from distant locations to look at a number of homes in a limited amount of time. No amount of weather is going to stop them from taking a look at your home as time is their greatest concern. Make sure your house looks like it is easy to maintain with freshly shoveled sidewalks, driveways and clear, easy paths to your front door.
Leave a light on. Daylight hours are limited during the winter months. Entering a darkened home in the pitch black brings feelings of fear and discomfort. We place all of our lamps on timers which turn on around 8am and turn off around 8pm. This insures the house will be fully lit whenever a potential buyer enters. We tend to stay away from incandescent bulbs due to energy consumption and fire hazard.
Is selling a house in the dead of winter ideal? No, it’s not, but it is necessary sometimes. It’s also not the end of world. Just keep in mind what your buyers are going through to see your house and try to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
Justin M. Riordan, LEED AP is founder of , a with offices in Portland, Seattle and Palm Springs. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients.