Looking to put your home on the market this winter? Make your home stand out to potential buyers with these expert tips and tricks.
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Late spring is the best time to sell your home: There's a good chance you'll make top dollar on your place and sell it more quickly since summer is the most popular time to move, according to research from the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, prices on homes sold in spring 2021 soared to $370,000 on average, up 17.2 percent from the previous year, according to data from Realtor.com. However, competition is slowing down, with RedFin reporting that only 58 percent of the offers written by their agents in August faced a bidding-war (a record low for the year), compared to 74 percent in April 2021. While the market is likely to stay hot things are starting to slow down for the season. But if you need to put your place on the market during another time of year—say, winter, because of a job transfer—how can you still sell your house for what it's worth (and maybe even a bit more), even when the market isn't as hot? Keep reading for five secrets for selling your home during the slow season.

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Credit: Getty Images

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1 Style your home for the season.

Start with the outdoors by planting popular seasonal flowers (such as chrysanthemums and pansies in the fall) in your front yard. In the fall or winter, hang a festive wreath on your front door, or place pumpkins on your porch.

To bring seasonal cheer indoors when staging your home, consider adding accessories like pillows or blankets (in bright red or orange for fall and winter or cooler colors for summer) or sprucing up your kitchen by placing a tray of cinnamon sticks or a bowl of lemons on the counter. Scents and fragrances, like apple and pumpkin in fall and winter or fresh cotton and linen in summer, can also entice home buyers during open houses.

2 Make sure there's plenty of natural light.

As winter approaches and days get shorter, homes get less natural light. The good news is you can counteract these effects by replacing heavy window treatments with lightweight curtains and installing high-wattage light bulbs. Another way to banish gloom is by hanging mirrors, which help reflect natural light.

3 Maximize your home's curb appeal.

Dead leaves, tree branches, and other debris on your lawn can kill your home's curb appeal, so rake on a daily basis. Also, trim hedges and trees—and give special attention to overgrown vegetation that could block the windows or path to the entrance. "Small, simple projects can go a long way in boosting curb appeal to draw in buyers the second they see your home," says Bailey Carson, home care expert at Angi. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint to help it pop amongst all that well-groomed foliage and re-stain, paint, or pressure wash your patio or front porch.

Related: The Essential Upgrades That Will Help You Make More Money When You Sell Your Home

4 Build a fire pit in your backyard.

A cozy fireplace certainly creates a pleasant atmosphere, but don't stop there. Online home improvement guide Fixr found fire pits to be the second most popular outdoor feature (behind outdoor kitchens) in their 2021 Outdoor Trends Survey.

In what could be an effect of the pandemic, people are looking to spend more time in their outdoor spaces, and during the winter, too. "Experts claimed that roughly 48% of homes would have outdoor spaces adapted to use in the colder months and a fire pit is a great addition to create an outside area usable during winter months," says Adam Graham, construction industry analyst at Fixr. The outdoor trends survey also reports that 85 percent of experts say their clients are more willing to invest in outdoor spaces now, compared to before the pandemic. 

They're also relatively cheap to install: The average cost to build a fire pit is $850, but the project can run as low as $200, Fixr reports

In general, exterior home upgrades seem to have much better returns, says Graham. "In the Cost vs Value 2021 Report by Remodeling, out of the 22 projects presented, the top half with the highest ROI are exterior projects," he says. 

5 Insulate the attic.

Fall and winter home buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating, especially when drafts are noticeable during showings.

"Insulation is a good way to keep your home warmer throughout the winter so you can keep prospective buyers comfortable without doing too much damage to your energy bills," says Carson. "It will also come up during the inspection that your insulation is up to code and was recently replaced, which will set the buyers' minds at ease," she adds. 

As a result, insulating your attic can make your home more appealing. It can also boost your home's value, since loose-fill attic insulation yields a 107.7 percent return on investment, according to 2017 data (most recent numbers  available) from Remodeling.

Plus, insulating your home can help you save money on energy bills. "The EIA is predicting higher residential energy prices this coming winter compared to the previous several winters, with some households potentially paying up to 50% more than last year," explains Graham. Because of this, Graham suggests prioritizing weatherstripping and insulating your whole home this fall to make your home stand out even more to potential buyers.

Related: 4 Paint Colors That Add Value to Your Home