Nicole Solari is a top-producing broker-owner in Northern California whose regular bimonthly column, which covers real estate marketing, selling strategies and working with clients, publishes regularly on Tuesdays.
Plus, buyers who are out hunting between Halloween and President’s Day are often in a position where they need to buy.
So, make sure your listings are on buyers’ shortlists by pumping up their wintertime curb appeal.
Clean up the exterior
First of all, if the street-facing side of the property is looking tired, a quick tidying effort will instantly improve its appearance.
Power-wash the house, trim trees and shrubs, pick up the yard, have the windows washed ’til they sparkle, and shine up or replace the house numbers (and make sure those numbers are well lit).
If the mailbox is looking worn and wobbly, replace it and its post. Make sure sellers have arranged to keep gutters cleared out and snow removed promptly from sidewalks, driveways and curbside parking spaces.
Nothing ruins a first impression like stepping out of a nice, warm car into a puddle or a pile of filthy snow — or ice!
Once the property is at its cleaned up, use the elements of light, life and warmth to make it a head-turner from the street.
Liven up the entry
In selecting decorative elements, think winter rather than specific holidays to avoid the need for extensive updates. And employ a few bold touches rather than a bunch of little fussy details.
Use paint, elbow grease and green plants to transform the entry or entire front facade into a stunning focal point. Touch up the front door finish and hardware.
Hang evergreen wreaths on the door or in windows. Or wrap evergreen rope around columns or door frames. Add evergreen and/or seasonal plants (appropriate to your climate) in woven baskets at the entry.
Make sure necessities like umbrella stands and shoe scrapers are available but unobtrusive. And install a fresh doormat — with a backup in the garage in case it gets soiled.
Warm up the welcome
By December, even in “sunny California,” we’re totally over cold weather and gloomy skies. Our eyes crave color — bright, warm color. Like red!
So, if your seller has ever considered changing the front door color, now’s the moment to add that eye-catching pop of color to the entry. With a red front door, little else will be needed to ensure the entry is a dramatic focal point from the street.
If painting the door is not an option, however, red ribbons on wreaths and baskets, red faux cardinals or bright berries in accent plants, even a red throw tossed over a covered front porch swing can add the fiery warmth winter buyers seek.
Silver and gold metals also work as accent colors — your choice depends on the home and decorative style — because they sparkle and add warmth.
Let there be light
Light the front walk with solar- or battery-powered fixtures. Highlight a beautiful facade or noteworthy architectural features with floods, or outline them in white lights (arches look terrific picked out in this way).
Light the trunks and branches of bare trees with strings of white lights.
One makes a statement; multiples create magic. Dramatic at night, festive lighting brightens even an overcast day. And white lights can stay up late into spring without looking like forgotten holiday decor.
Finally, leave the porch light on day and night. It silently telegraphs “welcome home” and photographs great.
Once you’ve restaged the exterior and created a dramatic lighting scheme, have new photos taken so you can post them on the listing and elsewhere online.
This is where the majority of buyers now view prospective properties to tour, so why waste a wintertime opportunity to shine?
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.