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7 Winter Photo Shoot Secrets to Make Your Home Shine in the Gloomiest Season

February 13, 2020

Bob Steiner/iStock

Just because the weather right now makes us want to hibernate doesn’t mean the real estate market is sleeping. In fact, the waning months of the coldest season have become one of the most popular times for buyers to begin their home search.

That’s great news if you’re looking to sell your home this winter! But those buyers won’t give your place a second look if it appears sad and drab in listing photos. So how can you possibly pull off perfect pictures when Mother Nature is working against you?

We’ve got you covered! You can beat the winter blues and snap some seriously good photos of your home—you just have to know a few tricks of the trade. Read on for the secrets to showing your home in the best light this winter.

1. Wait as long as you have to for a sunny day

Let the sun shine!

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We know, there aren’t a lot of these in winter. But trust us when we say it’s worth waiting for the one day when the sun comes out. If you’re working with a photographer, then the pro probably has this whole blue sky thing on lockdown. But if you’re not, the best way to make people actually want to tour—and potentially buy—your house is to take photos on a day when the sun is shining.

“And preferably around noon,” says Benjamin Ross, a Realtor® with Mission Real Estate Group. “You don’t want dark spots overshadowing your beautiful home.”

Ross also recommends using a polarizing filter on your camera lens, since this will minimize any unwanted reflection or glare from the sun.

Planning on using your phone? Check out this polarizing filter for iPhone from Sandmarc.

2. Clean your windows

Unless you’re shooting for a Windex ad, you’ll want to be sure your windows don’t appear streaked with condensation or dirt.

Pro tip: We recommend cranking the heat up to its max, to keep the little condensation drips at bay.

As for the dirt, you know what to do. “Many people forget, but be sure to clean your windows prior to shooting,” Ross says.

3. Use all the indoor light

Counteract the gloom outside by turning on all the lights inside.

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Winter is a dark season in most climates, which is why you’ll want to combat that gloomy mood by using your home’s interior lighting to make outdoor pictures warm and inviting.

“Turn on all lights in the home when shooting,” says Ross. “Even in the daytime, turn on all the lights for more clarity in your images.”

Another tip for snagging buyer interest in winter? Putting those fireplaces to work.

“I like to highlight working fireplaces when at all possible,” says Daniele Kurzweil, real estate agent with the Compass Friedman Team. “Be it gas or wood-burning, a photo of a warm, inviting fire is sure to draw in a crowd during those cold and dark winter months. Highlight your strengths, and show buyers a warm, comfy nook where they can curl under a blanket by the fireplace.”

4. Shovel the snow, for goodness’ sake

Clearing a path to the house increases the likelihood of selling it.

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No one expects your house to look picture-perfect in the middle of winter, but there are a few basics you can do to make it look its cold-weather best.

For starters, clear any excess snow that’s piling up. No one wants to be reminded of chores (like shoveling snow) when they view your house, so be sure walkways, driveways, porches, and outdoor seating areas are all cleaned off.

5. Stash any and all holiday decor

The holidays are over! Deal with it. Once the snow piles are under control, be sure to cut any lingering holiday decor out of the picture as well.

“If you take a photo with seasonal items, come spring or summer if your place hasn’t yet sold, people will immediately assume your listing has been on the market since the holidays, and move right past it,” Kurzweil says.

6. Hire a gardener

It’s amazing what a few hearty winter plants can do for your curb appeal. But rather than attempting a botanical experiment, consider hiring a professional to spruce up your winter garden just in time for the big day.

“If your garden looks lush in the spring, speak with a plant specialist who can help pick out beautiful hearty plants that will make your garden pop in the winter months,” says Kurzweil.

She also suggests using winter-themed outdoor decor (like a fire pit) as a focal point.

“Instead of shying away from the outdoors in the winter, showcase how your outside space is indeed usable throughout all four seasons,” she advises.

7. Include photos from other seasons

Photos from other seasons remind buyers that someday winter will end.

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No matter how great your winter photos turn out, it’s important to allow buyers to visualize themselves in your home—and that means including pictures from other seasons. Be sure to focus on shots of your home’s best features, like that outdoor patio and the bench swing on the front porch.

“Show potential buyers how inviting your home is during the coldest of months,” says Kurzweil, “and they’ll be even more impressed come springtime.”

The post 7 Winter Photo Shoot Secrets to Make Your Home Shine in the Gloomiest Season appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Hark, the Buyers Sing! 4 Tips to Throw a Rockin’ Holiday-Themed Open House

December 14, 2019

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If you’ve decided to keep your home on the market this holiday season (and you totally should), you probably have a few questions. Like, how much should you decorate the house? Or, is it OK to leave presents under the tree?

We checked with several real estate agents to answer your most pressing questions, and help you throw the ultimate holiday-themed open house that’ll have buyers adding your home to their list for Santa.

1. Make it cozy and bright


Photo by Robin LaMonte/Rooms Revamped 
The first step to getting buyers in the door (and persuading them to stay awhile) is to transform your house into a warm haven of holiday cheer. Chances are, guests coming in from the cold will be feeling just as stressed as you about trying to balance the holidays with a big move. But you can soften them up with a few simple tricks—like blasting the heat.

“Keep your house very warm,” suggest Lane Shuler, real estate broker for LeConte Realty. “Don’t try to save a buck by keeping your house below 70. Make your house the most welcoming house a buyer sees on their tour.”

You might even want to use a real fire to upgrade the coziness of your home.

“This is a great time to showcase the house, and a festive theme makes the house a ‘home’ that potential buyers can see themselves in,” says real estate agent Nadia Anac. “If you live in colder climates, turn on the fireplace.”

You should also consider using small lights, candles, and even scented decor to make every room feel like one your buyer doesn’t want to leave.

“Make sure the home smells great,” says Michelle Sloan, a Realtor®. “I love the cinnamon-scented pine cones that can be found in hobby stores. They make a great holiday decoration and make the room smell warm and cozy.”

2. Bring out the figgy pudding

All right, it doesn’t have to be figgy pudding, but your holiday-themed open house should definitely have a few snacks to keep buyers sticking around. Baked goods and festive drinks will help your event feel more like a holiday party, and less like a chore.

“Offer some bubbly,” Sloan suggests. “Small glasses of white, bubbly grape juice or some other festive drink that won’t be too messy to clean up if there are spills.”

“Play upbeat holiday music, and bake some cookies to engage all the senses,” Anac suggests. “Offer hot cocoa so potential buyers will linger longer.”

3. Don’t store presents under the tree


Photo by Marks & Spencer
The only strange guy with access to your presents this year should be Santa Claus—so do your part in eliminating temptation for theft during the open house by keeping presents and valuables out of sight.

Ditto for the genuine crystal tree topper or the heirloom china you inherited from your great-grandmother. We know it comes out only once a year, but this year it’s better off staying in the attic. After all, it isn’t just theft you should be worried about; other accidents can easily happen as well, especially with a house full of people.

“Always put away valuables and breakable items that cannot be replaced,” Sloan says.

4. Be sensitive with your decor

2010 Christmas Decor eclectic
Photo by Mustard Seed Interiors.

See more eclectic spaces designs

The holidays mean different things for everyone. Since you never know who’s going to walk through the door, it’s important to keep your decor festive and fun—not heavy or religious. Translation? Christmas trees are great, but skip the nativity set this year.

“I recommend a pine wreath on the front door, and a few large, red velvet bows tied strategically along the front of the home,” says real estate broker Flavia Berys. “Inside the home, make it nondenominational, using things like snowmen, snowflakes, holly, and candles.”

Be sure that the key focal points in your home look holiday-ready, otherwise your home might seem gloomy.

“If you have a mantel, be sure it’s decorated,” says Benjamin Ross, a Realtor with Mission Real Estate Group. “If the mantel is left plain, it’ll look out of place this time of year—not good for prospective buyers.”

But that doesn’t mean you should go all-out, like the Griswold family.

“Buyers who go to open houses during the holidays are serious about buying,” Anac says. “For a seller who’s going to have an open house during the holidays, it’s important to make the home inviting, but not too distracting with holiday decor—don’t overdo it with lights or lawn decorations.”

The post Hark, the Buyers Sing! 4 Tips to Throw a Rockin’ Holiday-Themed Open House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

6 Reasons Why Winter Is Actually the Most Chill Time to Buy a Home

December 15, 2018

When the weather outside is frightful, trudging door to door to look at houses might seem like a fool’s errand. Everybody knows spring and summer are the home-buying seasons, and winter is the time when you—and sellers—cool it for a bit and take a break, right?

While it’s true that things do slow down in the winter, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, fewer homes are for sale. Yes, moving in a snowstorm is a pain no one should experience. But there are quite a few darned smart reasons to buy a home in the winter. In fact, we’d argue that this might even be the best time to buy a home—if you can. Here’s why.

1. There’s less competition

Not everyone’s willing to look at homes in single-digit temperatures. The months of May, June, July, and August make up 40% of existing-home sales, while January and February account for less than 6%.

For sellers, that’s not-so-hot news. But buyers should rejoice.

“Buying in the winter knocks out a large chunk of the buyer competition, allowing you to be a bit more selective with your home purchase,” says Cincinnati real estate agent Eric Sztanyo.

Sure, more summer inventory means there’s a better chance of finding your dream home. But your chances of successfully buying any home are higher when it’s chilly. Fewer buyers mean fewer all-cash, over-asking offers—making your traditionally financed offer more appealing.

2. Sellers are motivated—and willing to make a deal

Most likely, sellers listing their home in the depths of winter seriously want to sell. That gives buyers the upper hand.

“Many people place their homes on the market at this time of the year because they need to,” says Lauren McKinney, a Realtor® in Asheville, NC. “Many sellers are looking to get out fast and will be more willing to work with you.”

You’ll also want to keep an eye on each home’s “cumulative days on market,” which you’ll find on the home’s listing details page. It’s possible that the house has been lingering on the market—giving you more leverage to land a fantastic home for a fraction of the price you would have paid six months earlier.

“If you are buying in the winter, you may want to target houses that have been on the market for a few months, because you might just find a seller who is more motivated to accept a lower offer,” Sztanyo says.

But remember: Just because a seller’s eager doesn’t necessarily mean you should dramatically lowball or make unreasonable demands—you can sabotage yourself if you get cocky. Instead, work with your agent to determine an appropriate negotiation strategy.

3. You can put the house through its paces

In most climates, winter puts stress on the home. That gives you the perfect opportunity to evaluate the property under the worst conditions possible. A home that might seem perfect during the temperate spring could look wholly different in the winter.

“You’ll never know how drafty the windows may be or how weak the insulation is when previewing a house in the spring and the summer,” Sztanyo says. “Buying a house in the winter allows you to put the furnace’s ability to keep you warm to the test.”

Plus, you’ll get a better idea of what you’re in for on the home’s worst days: Is that driveway going to be a pain in the you-know-what to shovel? Do you spot ice dams on the roof? How does the home look with barren trees and shrubs? Just as you’d judge a first date who shows up wearing a track suit, this is your chance to be extra critical of a house you’re thinking of committing to.

4. Hiring movers is usually easier

No one can claim that it’s easier to move in the winter. If you’ve ever done it, you know it’s sheer misery to move all of your possessions in inclement weather. But the logistics are simplified when you aren’t competing with a hundred other moving households.

“Movers aren’t booked solid like in the spring and summer months,” McKinney says. “It’s not a bad time to move.”

You might even be able to negotiate a lower price because of the chilled demand. Just make sure to be flexible and allocate a few days’ window for moving—if your moving day falls during the next bomb cyclone, you might have to reschedule.

5. You can enjoy last-minute tax savings

If you’re purchasing your first home, buying in the winter gives you a few extra months of potential tax deductions.

‘The holidays are your last chance to buy that home and use it as a write-off for your 2018 taxes,” says mortgage banker Ralph DiBugnara.

Depending on your local laws, you can deduct mortgage interest, taxes, and points—although you should consider talking to a professional before getting too excited. The new tax law might affect your mortgage interest deduction.

6. Homes close faster

In the busy spring and summer months, your mortgage broker might be backed up days or even weeks—which is beyond frustrating when your closing is planned around your lender’s schedule. But during the holidays, DiBugnara says, things slow down by 25% to 30%.

“You will be able to close your loan much faster, as wait times are much shorter during the holiday season,” he says.

That means you’ll be cuddling up in front of that fireplace sooner than expected. Nothing wrong with that, right?

The post 6 Reasons Why Winter Is Actually the Most Chill Time to Buy a Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.