Wed 08 Jan 2020
If you’re looking to move by Easter, you’re going to be looking for a buyer in Winter. While it’s traditionally the low season – and also the darkest – there are some advantages to selling a property at this time of year, from the ‘Boxing Day Bounce’ on Rightmove, to committed buyers, to fewer competing homes.
New corporate jobs often start in January, while the September baby boom means lots of new parents looking to upsize. These are people with purpose and motivation to move, who will brave the cold through necessity with a deadline to find their next home. There are far fewer day-trippers or toe-dippers in Winter, so you’re likely to find good prospects among the searchers.
There’s also the opportunity to present your property as a haven of warmth and cosiness; a sanctuary from the cold outside where buyers will want to linger. So let’s take a look at how to make the most of selling your home in Winter 2020.
The Boxing Day Bounce
We’ve written a whole separate blog about this but in short, from Boxing Day to around January 10th, daily visits to Rightmove increase around 500% from their usual 4.5million to over 25million. It’s now as much of a British tradition as roast turkey and zero public transport, with many owners launching their property on Boxing Day itself to give them two weeks of valuable NEW LISTING status at what is now the busiest time of year for online property searches. Even if you don’t want viewings over the festive period, it’s a unique time to be on the market because of the reduced competition and increased activity, so make sure to use Rightmove’s price bands to your advantage. £499,995 will miss people searching between £500,000 and £550,000, while £1,999,995 is fooling no-one and excludes people with £2-2.5million. At the other end of the scale, asking £252,500 is a clear indication that you’re looking for £250,000, but excludes anyone searching up that amount.
Give thanks for the holidays
There is a slew of winter celebrations: Thanksgiving; Kwanza; Chanukah and Christmas all happen in the cold season – as well as Diwali if it's late that year – which means many people off work and available to view. If you are celebrating any of these then it’s wise to keep your decorations under control, but you can also use them to add a sense of welcoming occasion. Be mindful of your photographs looking too seasonal by having manageable objects that you can move out of the way for the photographer to give your pictures a longer shelf life.
Be a guiding light
Winter is the dark, dark, darkest time of year, so check that all your lights are working, inside and out: a welcoming glow outside the front door beats a dark pathway every time. Inside, warm- or soft-toned bulbs can make a huge difference and are often the missing element in a cold-feeling room. And if you have dark corners that are not yet lit, consider a contemporary standard or table lamp to bring some glamour to that space. In terms of natural light, if trees – even bare ones – are overshadowing windows, have them pruned (with permission if they’re not yours!) to allow in as much light as possible.
Radiate an atmosphere
If viewings are taking place while you’re out, make sure to pre-set the heating (or send your Hive the ‘on’ command). It is important for people to feel cosy and comfortable, otherwise their concern can drift to “does the boiler work?”; to “is this house impossible to heat?”; to a hasty “can we leave?”, when what you’re aiming for is “can we stay?” with your viewers picturing their own desk in that space where you’ve got yours.
Make heavenly scents
Never neglect the olfactory senses! We use our sense of smell far more than we recognise, and it can trigger feelings of both 'like' and ‘dislike’, so it's worth making sure your home smells – naturally and seasonally – pleasant. A few scented reeds with cinnamon, mandarin and vanilla; good quality scented candles; or real cinnamon buns in the oven for extra bonus points will make a relaxing and warmly-wintery atmosphere. A bowl of dried citrus fruits can waft that special Christmas scent – and look supremely charming – while bringing to mind being curling up on that cosy couch.
Spruce it up
Even if you weren't selling, the holidays are a great time to spruce up your house. If your home is mostly neutrals, layering textures will imbue them with contemporary luxury. The inviting softness of fluffy sheepskins, natural wool throws that anyone would want to wrap themselves in say “look how cosy and elegant you'd be in this house, even when it's cold and harsh outside”. If you're looking to give splashes of colour, the easiest way is with cushions, throws and linens, either in mid-century geometrics, or with the latest sombre purples and forest green velvets for a new take on an Art Nouveau palette: a sophisticated, dark and mysterious welcome home for a long evening in with a book, or a game of chess and a single malt.
Go in deep
If you’re in the mood a more comprehensive colour update, paint a feature wall. Peacock blue, toned down with a Millennial Pink (a sort of old-fashioned raw plaster shade) is among the latest colour trends, or go for a textured high-pigment paint that gives a sumptuous and velvety matt. These tones and textures whisper intimate, safe, luxurious and stylish; an excellent combination when it comes to selling your home. For any old but lovely wooden furniture that's looking a bit worn, upcycle it with a matt finish paint: black is very on-trend and really pops with neutrals, naturals or a stronger statement colour.
Be artful in your ways
Take a look at your pictures. If they've faded, or no longer match your newly opulent scheme, be ruthless and swap them out. Instead of a portrait, try framing a luxury fabric (think Pierre Frey; Zoffany; Clarke & Clarke; or House of Hackney: bargain hunters will find remnants on eBay at a fraction of the full price) or procure a fine art print at a Winter art fair for original works to suit all styles and budgets. Fine art prints have a particular quality that both you and your viewers will enjoy, printed on acid-free, heavy-weight paper with longer-lasting artists’ inks that avoid the yellowing of giclee or other digital prints.
Houseplants add life and colour to any home and they never bark at guests! Pots are as important as the foliage, so swap out any that look dated for an instant lift. With a neutral scheme, you could paint existing terracotta pots with a pale neutral stripe or design to create a stunning, and expensive-looking piece (just make sure the saucer is fully glazed and not raw terracotta as it will sweat water onto your furniture or floors). If you're more daring, copper or gold pots give off a real 'zing' and metallics are on thoroughly on trend right now, especially when used with natural materials and matt painted surfaces. If you're lacking in the green thumb, buy in some specimens and group them in threes – two smaller, one larger – or go a for a bigger, single statement to fill a corner in larger rooms.
Keep outdoors under control
Gardens are never at their best at this time of year. Low light levels and perennials snoozing below ground mean gardens end up both bare, and covered in soggy leaves. To make the best of it, cover the garden furniture or put it in storage (unless it's a gorgeous wrought iron piece that still looks tremendous – in which case keep it clear of mulch to show it off). Regularly sweep or rake up all the leaves to give a sense of uninterrupted care, and tidy up any scraggy plants. If you have a front garden, treat it to a couple of evergreens like box cones or balls by the front door, or poinsettias in the porch. As a bonus, a feeding station encourages garden visitors: perhaps you’ll get a robin red-breast visitor for pure winter allure.
If you have a property in Surbiton or Long Ditton that you’d like to sell this winter, please get in touch with our sales team: we’d love to talk to you.