Putting your home up for sale in winter may seem counter-intuitive, but there can be benefits to selling now. Plus, it’s a perfect time to get ahead of the busy spring market.

As the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported earlier this month, inventory levels of homes on the market in January were unusually low. That means there isn’t much for buyers to choose from. And where supply is low, demand will be higher.

Here are four other reasons to list your home now, plus some things to keep in mind.

  • Buyers are serious. You can expect fewer showings now (that can also be a bonus!), but those who do come to see your home will be serious buyers.
  • Having less to choose from means your home will stand out more, particularly if you’ve done your best to make it appealing.
  • Having fewer homes to choose from can also increase prices. While it’s not a guarantee, it’s certainly a possibility.
  • Buyers who are looking now are typically not as restricted by school districts or neighbourhoods (families with school-aged children tend to buy and move in summer). That can mean less hurdles in getting a sale.

Overcoming the challenges of winter selling

There’s no doubt, it’s messier in winter and the cold or a snowstorm can put a damper on your plans. But there are things you can do to overcome those challenges.

Clear a path: It’s a definite must to keep your laneway, walkways, steps, porch and deck clear of snow. This is partly for safety and partly so that potential buyers can see what these spaces have to offer. Plus, it shows that you take care of the home. If your patio furniture can withstand the elements, have it set up on your deck to help buyers visualize the space.

Contain the mess: Have mats inside and outside to keep down the snow and dirt tracked inside and so there’s a place for wet boots. A nice touch: Having a few pairs of one-size-fits-all slippers for visitors to wear and a seat for those who need one when removing boots.

Light it up: Make as much use of the natural light available as you can. Pull up blinds and open shutters and drapes on all windows. If you have insect screens on your windows, remove them – it lets in more light and it’s better for keeping down moisture buildup from condensation (make sure the windows are clean though).

Make sure all lights are on for a showing, even during the day. Experiment with your lightbulbs to find the most flattering hues for your space. A bathroom looks great with daylight bulbs, while bedrooms and living rooms look best with soft white bulbs. For rooms that tend to be dark, add a spotlight on the floor behind furniture or extra floor lamps.

Make it cosy: Have your heat turned up. You want the temperature to be comfortable and give a buyer more reason to linger. Consider raising the temperature a degree or two more than usual, then reset to normal in time for a viewing to minimize the furnace coming on, particularly if your system is loud. Add a fire for extra appeal, but if it’s a wood fire, make sure the damper is open, there’s a grate in front of it and don’t leave it unattended.

Create atmosphere: Yes, you want to stage your home, but add an extra touch with a romantic living room setting that includes a pair of wine glasses, a bottle of wine and a throw. In the bathroom, hang plush bathrobes, stock a basket with rolled cloths or towels, and add unlit candles for a spa-like feel. Set your dining table for a dinner for two. But go easy on strong scents: Many people are sensitive and if you over-scent, buyers may wonder whether you’re covering up an unpleasant smell.

Sweet treats: It’s sometimes suggested to simmer spices like cinnamon on the stove or bake goodies. If you’re going to do this, have treats out for visitors so they won’t be disappointed upon smelling the enticing aroma.

Summer sizzle: Buyers may not be able to see your beautiful landscaping, so display photos of your property in spring, summer and fall to showcase flower gardens, lawns and shrubbery.

Winter tune-up: Winter buyers are more aware of issues related to your heating system. Make sure your mechanical systems have been checked and are running smoothly.