Curb your Homes Winter Blues!

by : Anne And Eddie Mckechnie

While selling your home in winter has some very definite advantages, it also brings its own unique challenge.

As the prospective buyer drives up to your home, he or she will be assessing it, even before the engine has been turned off. This is why sellers are urged to take note of what is called the curb appeal of their home. At this stage, the most dominant feature for the buyer will be the windows and lighting, as well as the front yard and driveway.

It is a little more difficult to incorporate curb appeal into the front yard when it is all covered with snow. However, it is not an entirely lost cause, and a few simple pointers will make a huge difference.

With a lot of the flowers hidden under snow, you can only rely on the trees and shrubs that you already have planted. If this makes your yard look a little austere, then a couple of three foot high trees in pots make a nice splash of color. Go for a blue fir, or try a couple of berry bushes for added color. These can be moved to your new home, so are a sound investment.

If you have decorative pathways, i.e. crazy paving or colored cobblestones, ensure they are kept clean from snow, to enable the pattern to be seen. (A yard broom will sweep the last dregs of snow.) Be meticulous in ensuring that there are no slippery spots. You do not want to introduce a negative vibe to your prospective buyer.

When you shovel the snow from your walkways, do not pile it up on the side of the path. (I know this causes extra work, but it also makes your home look like a scene from a Christmas card, instead of a pile of grubby snow.)

Snow tends to eliminate many details in the front yard, and one way to define your house in the neighborhood may be garden lights. A row of garden lights along the path to the front door is attractive and useful. If you have no lights, they can be bought for a few dollars, and taken with you when you leave, if needs be. (The mushroom-shaped lights just push into the ground and are easily removed.)

If it is an evening viewing, the lighted windows will be one of the features that will be part of the first impression. Pay for a window cleaner to come to your house and clean the windows until they sparkle. You should discuss with your realtor whether the curtains look better open or closed, bearing in mind that you will have to think of the inside viewing as well. One of the tricks to make a home look more cozy when looking in from the outside, is to put an amber or pink bulb in one of your lamps, to take the edge off the bright whiteness of the lighting.

Of course, around Christmas time, many of us hang lights on our houses. A good tip is to minimize both the amount of lights and the colors and not to have Santa and his elves all lined up in the front yard this year! Too much decoration will detract from the natural charm of your house, and may even put some people off. It is probably a safe bet to keep the lights all one color and only trim around the roof gables, to pick out the shape of the building.

While on the subject of Christmas, the tradition of putting the Christmas tree in front of the window should probably be reviewed this year. Putting a tree in a room often requires a move around of furniture which is usually detrimental to the overall effect of the living area. In fact any fir tree other than a little twelve inch one will make your living room or den (wherever you have it) look smaller. Spaciousness is one of the key assets in a home, so can you bear to be unpopular and abandon your normal Christmas tree - just for this year?

A final reminder on optimizing curb appeal: make sure all re-cycle bins and garbage cans are hidden around the back of the house and give the front door handles, mailbox and any hand rails an extra polish.