Charles Rutenberg Realty’s Joe Moshé Offers Advice on How to Stage a Perfect Open House during the Winter Season

December 20, 2016

Wintertime is usually the most difficult time of the year to sell a house. The snow, cold weather and icy road conditions keep prospective homebuyers indoors while many houses remain unsold. Joe Moshé, Broker/Owner, Charles Rutenberg Realty, Inc., says the winter weather should not be used as an excuse for a lack of interested buyers and, if sellers can follow his advice on how to properly stage a home, then they could be receiving multiple offers by the end of the day.

On Long Island, residents saw their fair share of blizzards during the last three winters. This provided a challenge to the residential real estate market. While home sales improved year over year, month-over-month sales declined each of those three years. The winter of 2013-2014 saw completed home sales fall from 2,025 in December 2013 to 1,507 in January 2014 to 1,299 in February 2014, according to data from Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. The following winter, there were 2,064 home sales that were completed in December 2014; that number dropped to 1,583 the next month and 1,439 the month after that. Last winter, 2,439 home sales were completed in December 2015; over the next two months, that figure fell to 1,855 and then 1,831 in January 2016 and February 2016, respectively.

“Here on Long Island, the recent winters have been brutal, especially for those used to more moderate conditions,” says Mr. Moshé. “The weather kept those who were looking to buy a house from venturing out into the freezing cold, resulting in more homes being kept on the market longer.”

Mr. Moshé says that, despite the nasty weather, people can still sell their homes if they pull off a successful open house. He offers the following tips:

  • If it starts to snow that day, be sure to shovel out the walkway and/or driveway so that the prospective homebuyers are able to get inside the house. Be sure to apply rock salt or ice melt on those pathways; it will keep the snow and ice from freezing and prevent slip-and-fall accidents.

  • Shovel the sidewalk and the part of the street in front of the house so that the visiting buyers do not have to walk down the block in the snow.

  • Stage the inside of the house as if it were any other season in the year. This means getting rid of any clutter, cleaning the windows, mopping the floors, vacuuming the rugs and dusting the furniture.

  • Make the inside a little cozier by lighting a fire in the fireplace and rearranging the furniture to give the rooms a more spacious look. Younger homebuyers are attracted to homes with open spaces because they want a place of their own where they can entertain their friends.

  • Draw back the curtains to let the light in. The sunlight will shine onto the snow and into the house, making the inside much brighter.

  • If it is too cold inside the house, turn up the thermostat, but be sure to keep it at a reasonable temperature. If it gets too hot inside, the prospective buyers will feel uncomfortable and that will leave an impression on them, possibly hindering chance of a sale.

“While some wait until springtime — when the weather is warmer — to buy a house, others are willing to take advantage of the slow winter months to find the home they’ve always wanted,” adds Mr. Moshé. “While it is not impossible to sell a home during the winter, it definitely has its challenges. The seller must bear in mind that the key to selling a home is usually proper pricing. However, in the winter, when most houses do not show well, it is essential to amp up presentation. With fewer homes on the market during the winter, your house can stand out from the competition, giving the right buyer motivation to move in before the first daffodils bloom.”

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