Selling your home in the winter brings more challenges than in other seasons. It gets dark early, it’s cold, snowy and icy, and it creates extra work for sellers to create a positive experience for buyers viewing the home so they can envision living there.

  Start with your driveway. I had an appointment to show a home last week with a steep driveway and the sellers hadn’t plowed. It was to slippery to drive up to the house even with all wheel drive, so the buyer’s decided they didn’t want to own a home with a problem driveway, and we skipped the showing.

   Salt the walkways so the snow and ice melts, especially if you have stairs. One of my clients was on crutches and had to maneuver upstairs that had 4” of snow. Many sellers don’t realize they could be liable if someone falls on their property.

  Turn on the exterior light. Not only will your home show better and feel more inviting, but it will make it easier for agents to see the lockbox to get the keys, especially if a combination needs to be entered.

  Have a large rug in the foyer. Often 3 or 4 people are entering the house with wet or snowy shoes or boots and there is no rug. This makes it slippery, can damage floors, and guests are stepping in water when they put their shoes back on to leave. If you have room, place a bench or chair for guests to sit on while putting on their shoes.

  Check your light bulbs and make sure you are using the highest wattage allowed and none are burned out. Turn on all the lights in the house before a showing. With the sun lower this time of year, rooms can feel dark and less inviting. Sometimes switches aren’t located in a spot that is easy find or lamps are used, and agents can’t find the right switch or don’t bother turning on a lamp. You want each room to show its best.

  Because there is very little fresh air inside your home in the winter, it is important to check for unwanted smells. Clean the bathroom and kitchen well, take out the trash, remove dirty laundry, and check for pet smells. Some sellers simmer lemons, cinnamon, or other spices on the stove before the showing.

  Make sure you have clear wide walk ways through your home. Remove as much clutter from your home as possible and pack it out of sight. We are still seeing Christmas trees and decorations in some homes that should also be packed away.  

  An experienced Real Estate Agent can provide specific tips to help you get top dollar for your home.

 Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.