January 22 2016, Calgary AB, Pam Fieber of Edit Home Staging poses with a accent pillow in a Bow Crescent home represented by Perry Lagler-Remax (Wil Andruschak/CREB NOW)

The winter sell

How to stage your home during the ‘off-season’

Your home has been on the market. You want an offer. You want it fast.

Problem is, nothing kills your property’s curb appeal than winter – piles of snow, leafless trees, mud and ice.

So how do you make your home stand out in a buyer’s market during the “off-season?”

Calgary-based home stager Pam Fieber suggests you start by keeping all walkways — front and back — safe, clean, hazard-free and easy to access.

“Step number one is snow and ice removal,” said Fieber, a proprietor of Edit Home Staging (edithomestaging.ca). “Don’t let the snow pile up on your sidewalks. If people have trouble getting to your front door, that’s a turn-off right away.”

Second, sweep away spider webs and leaves, and clear away dead flowers poking out of flowerbeds. If you have flowerpots out front, fill them with wintery arrangements.

“Birch sticks, curly willow, pussy willows, spruce boughs – that sort of thing. It’s not Christmassy, but winter seasonal,” said Fieber, who also recommends a similar wreath on the front door. “It gives that welcoming effect.”

Time to step inside?

“That first impression is so important,” said Fieber. “Have your entry clear, clean and decluttered.”

Remove all extra footwear, backpacks, coats — all the stuff that piles up at the front door, especially in winter, she says. “You want people to walk into a pristine, open space.”

Then, if possible, create a spot for potential buyers to hang their own coats and place their footwear.

Calgary-based home stager Pam Fieber says creating an inviting entranceway into the home can help when it comes time to sell.
Calgary-based home stager Pam Fieber says creating an inviting entranceway into the home can help when it comes time to sell.

“If you have space, create a spot for them to sit down and remove their boots,” added Fieber. “You want to create that welcoming feeling, so they can’t wait to get in and see everything else.”

Next, open all the curtains and blinds. Clean the windows and turn on all the lights, inside and out, including porch lights, backyard lights and bedside lamps.

“Bleak winter light is so depressing,” said Fieber. “You may not need the lights to see, but you need the lights on to create that feeling of warmth.”

Of course, ensure burned-out light bulbs have been replaced. “Even one burned-out bulb gives people the feeling that this home may not have been well-maintained.”

If you are not currently living in your house, you may have turned down the heat. Turn it up. A cold house just scares people away, said Fieber.

Think texture when it comes to rooms: faux fur, modern knitted pillows, a thick blanket atop a bed or an attractive rug on hardwood.

“In summer, a bare floor might look crisp and clean, but in the winter, a nice area rug really adds to the warmth of a room,” said Fieber.

Do you have a gas fireplace? Turn it on, and arrange furniture to create a cosy place in front of the flames. “You want to create the effect that you’re coming in from the cold, and it’s all welcoming and warm inside.”

Then there’s the backyard. If you have a pet, remove waste. Stash pet toys, and pick up debris.

Do you have a firepit outside? Stage it with a bench, maybe a blanket or coffee cups — even when there’s snow on the ground, said Fieber.

Same rules apply to your patio. Pack up your furniture so the deck feels spacious and open.

“Or if you have an outdoor patio of any sort, stage that area in winter,” said Fieber. “If you have an outdoor fireplace, light it if it’s safe. Pull some chairs up to it. Have a little table with some hot chocolate, or a tea pot and two mugs, with cosy blankets over the chairs.”

Outdoor living is a big part of summer, “but we can make it happen in the winter here, too,” added Fieber. “You want that emotional connection point, so someone looks at the space and says, ‘Oh, I can see myself here.’

“In today’s market, you need every advantage you can get. When your house is staged properly, it will stand out from the other places on
your street.”

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