By Tyler Campbell

The housing market is sizzling hot in the summer. The kids are out of school, so it’s usually the best time to make a move. But that doesn’t mean home sales are frozen in the winter. You just may have to work a little harder to get top dollar. Create a showplace to convince buyers to say “yes” …. maybe they’ll even start a bidding war!

Here are six tips to get your home ready for the winter sales market.


1. Take Center Stage

Home prices in Austin and Houston vary depending on the neighborhood, but sales are on the upswing. Staging the property to showcase its best features is a must. Get rid of the clutter to make the rooms picture-perfect. Would-be buyers head to the internet to see photos before taking a physical tour. Expert photographers shoot pictures of each room in your home, highlighting the most-used areas like the family room and kitchen.

Physical staging for in-person house tours is the best way to charm your visitors. But you can do that online, too. Virtual staging is easy (and more cost-efficient) when it comes to helping home buyers envision their own furniture and belongings in place. Consider some aerial shots that showcase the entire neighborhood.


2. Landscaping

Don’t forget about the three Ls—landscaping, landscaping, landscaping. After viewing the professional photos online, the first thing people see when visiting the property are the lawn, landscaping, and flower beds. Most yards in the southern U.S. are planted with warm-season grasses like Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermudagrass — the lawn won’t need much in the way of mowing and watering in winter. But cultivating the beds for native plants and colorful flowers (like prairie verbena, American Holly, and primrose) keeps them healthy for spring.

Plenty of native southern flowers are winter bloomers. While cleaning up the garden, consider replacing the dead plants with Texas Honeysuckle, American Holly, and winterberry. Pansies bloom in winter from Houston to New Orleans to Mexico and Arizona. These plants will add color to your yard and last well into the summer.

The temperate winter weather in Houston and Southern Texas means many plants don’t go dormant. Fall is a great time for planting trees and shrubs. Sculpt the yard’s landscaping with palm trees, cedar elms, crape myrtles, magnolias, and Eve’s necklace.


3. Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts

Deciduous trees make fall messes — evergreens do too, albeit on a lesser scale. AND clogged gutters and a damaged roof don’t make good impressions, especially when buyers think they’ll have to do a lot of work to get the house up to speed. Flush out the gutters and downspouts with high-pressure garden hoses and powerful leaf blowers.

Hire a licensed professional to inspect the roof. If flashing or shingles are damaged, you may be eligible for reimbursement through home insurance. (Check with your insurance agent).

Note the new roof (or repairs) in the sales listing. Buyers will appreciate knowing the roof is sound, and that you are honest.


4. Repair or Upgrade Glass Windows

Drafts and moisture lead to chilly rooms, mold, and humid air. While we don’t typically get snow in the southern regions, we can get about seven or eight inches of rain during the winter.

Cool air seeps into homes with single-paned windows. A simple fix is to apply weather stripping or a new layer of calk around the frames. Installing double-pane windows is another option. Show off your new windows in the sales pitch. Not only do well-crafted windows insulate the home, but they’ll help to cut down on utility bills — another selling point.


5. Highlight the Seasons

Brighten up your home with decor for all seasons! Light up the interior and open window shades and shutters.

  • Display photos of spring and summer, when flowers are blooming and the garden is full. Add a few pictures of feathery friends at a birdfeeder.
  • Fall decorations like woody wreaths and scented candles are a cozy reminder of nature.
  • Light the fireplace in winter. Show off the living room or family room as a place where people like to gather to stay cozy when it’s a bit chilly outside.

Try to appeal to all five senses, and even the 6th sense, common sense. Have your real estate agent remind them that by buying a home before the end of the year, (especially if they’re new homeowners), they’ll be able to deduct the mortgage interest and reduce their federal income taxes this year.

Don’t forget smell and taste. Bake cookies just before a showing and then offer your visitors cookies, coffee, tea, and warm cider. Tantalizing aromas are hard to ignore — your house will be hard to forget.


6. Inside and Outside Technology


Enticing today’s homebuyers to sign on the dotted line partly depends on how tech-savvy the house is. Technology is everything these days, as we’re able to control everyday life with a tap of an app or voice request. Contact a tech expert to upgrade the house with smart light fixtures, garden monitors, doorbells, and other items with smart home automation. Have your photographer snap a photo of the automatic thermostats and sprinkler systems.


Tyler Campbell started mowing lawns in Aurora as a teenager to put himself through college. After getting his degree in landscape architecture, he now designs landscapes, but his favorite part is getting down to grass tacks, and mowing the grass